J.K. Rowling on 'The Casual Vacancy,' Using a Disguise, What She Learned from Michael Jackson


"I desperately needed to write this book," Rowling said. "Not because I wanted to prove anything, not because I felt I had to write a novel for adults. None of that. You know, people ask me that sort of question a lot. I've never sat down to write anything, thinking, 'What am I proving today?' Never. It's just not how I would write.... That was just a story I really wanted to tell."

Although "The Causal Vacancy" is already a bestseller online -- No. 1 on Amazon's top 100 bestselling book list, as of this writing, after being featured for 82 weeks -- Rowling is at peace with the likely reality that her second act won't repeat Harry Potter's global success.

"['The Casual Vacancy'] won't sell as many books as Harry Potter because I think lightning doesn't strike twice," she said. "But I accepted that a long time ago, I think back in 2000. I remember thinking this won't happen again. It will never happen again… I'm not complaining about that, but 'Harry' is done."

Knowing when to let go and move forward is a lesson Rowling said she learned from Michael Jackson, the king of pop who grew up to light the world on fire with his own "Thriller."

"He wanted to do 'Thriller' again and again and again and instead of accepting that he had produced one of the best albums of all time, and he would always have that, and freeing him to do, I don't know, to do something maybe a little more offbeat or explore, and risk failure, I mean, it's tragic, actually. It's very, very sad that someone with that amount of talent would be chasing that," she said.

Rowling said all those years she spent being broke and forcing herself to keep rebuilding from the ground up when publishers wouldn't read her manuscripts taught her to face failure and helped liberate her to be even more creative.

"I do feel free to write what I want to write," she said. "Having been at rock-bottom, it truly does give you a certain insulation from then on, because whatever happens, and clearly I'd rather the book went well than it didn't. I mean I'm human. But, but I do have a sense of perspective."

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