ITS citizens are usually ridiculed for their stand-offishness, but now apparently it is an attribute. Writer JK Rowling has said that Edinburgh is a great city in which to be a celebrity because the good burgers tend not to bother her and just let her “mooch around”.
The author said the remarkable success she had enjoyed since renting the property in South Lorne Place seemed “unreal”, but admitted she did not miss the “sheer insanity” which greeted each new instalment in the story of her most famous creation.
Speaking ahead of the launch of her first novel aimed at adults, due out tomorrow, the 47-year-old conceded that not everyone would enjoy the work, and revealed she was already working on three new books.
In a series of American interviews to promote The Casual Vacancy, which she describes as a “comic tragedy”, the Edinburgh-based writer said she felt she could live a normal life in the city “within certain limits”.
She explained: “I do get recognised, but I must say Edinburgh is a fantastic city to live if you’re well known. There is an innate respect for privacy in Edinburgh people, and I also think they’re used to seeing me walking around, so I don’t think I’m a very big deal.
“The average Edinburgh person is very respectful of a person’s right to mooch around and get on with things and go to the supermarket.”
Reflecting on her time living in the Leith flat, which proved so cold that she was famously forced to write about her boy wizard creation in the capital’s cafés, she added: “I sometimes feel that everything that happened since I left that flat is a little bit unreal. And that’s where I’d go back to if it all vanished.”
Rowling’s debut novel for an adult readership has already attracted around a million orders from her avid fanbase. Having become one of the world’s best-known authors through the Harry Potter series – the last book in the series sold 2.5 million copies within 24 hours of going on sale in the UK alone – she said she was happy with the change of direction.
She said: “I don’t think everyone will like the book. But I’m proud of this book. I like this book. It is what it’s meant to be. As an author, you really can’t say more than that.
“I don’t mean this arrogantly, but if people don’t like it, well, that’s how it should be, isn’t it? That’s art. It’s all subjective, and I can live with that.
“As much as is possible, I wanted this to be a normal book publication. Some of the furore that surrounded a Harry Potter publication was fun. I always loved meeting readers. I always loved doing events where I got to speak to readers, but some of it, candidly, wasn’t fun at all.
“The thing took on a life of its own. Some of it was just sheer insanity, and I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t rein it in. Incredible as it is to look back on it, I’m never going to be chasing that again. It was an amazing time, but it was also often stressful. This is a very different kind of book, and I’m very happy that we’re just doing it differently.”
Speaking about the opportunities of addressing a grown-up readership, compared with the constraints imposed by the Harry Potter novels, she added: “The thing about fantasy – there are certain things you just don’t do in fantasy. You don’t have sex near unicorns. It’s an ironclad rule. It’s tacky.”
Rowling said she had “no plans” to write again for young adults, conceding that it would be “difficult” after her acclaimed tales of the young boy wizard. However, she intended to return to writing for children aged around seven or eight in the future, as well as penning another book for adults.
The mother of three is close to completing the first of two books aimed at children and has written a “couple of chapters” of another novel, but said nothing was set in stone when it came to publication dates.
“I think the next thing I publish will be for children, but I don’t really want to be held to that, because I also know what my next book for adults will be and I really like that, too,” she said. “I’ve always had more than one thing going.”
The writer also revealed that she had to give careful thought before deciding to give evidence to the Leveson inquiry.
She said: “I had to think quite hard about doing that. You’re in a paradoxical situation. You’re sitting in there trying to explain why you’d like privacy, and you’re sort of invading your own privacy to explain it. ”