Although J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was rooted in fantasy and make-believe, the author seems to be drawing inspiration from something a little more realistic for her latest book: her own life.
Rowling’s new novel, The Ink Black Heart — part of her crime-thriller series Cormoran Strike and penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith — involves a storyline that appears to mirror Rowling’s public downfall after she continually made statements that have been widely condemned as transphobic.
Rowling liked tweets that described trans women as “men in dresses,” mocked an opinion piece that used the term “people who menstruate,” backed activist Maya Forstater after she was fired for her transphobic tweets, and penned a lengthy statement in June 2020 about the reasons she was “worried about the new trans activism.”
Even as backlash grew and Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint condemned her comments, Rowling has continued to double down on her stance, most recently protesting Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill that would help simplify the process for people legally changing their genders.
In her new book, Rowling introduces readers to Edie Ledwell, a creator of a popular YouTube cartoon who sees internet trolls and her own fandom turn on her after the cartoon was criticized as being racist and ableist, as well as transphobic for a bit about a hermaphrodite worm.
The creator is doxxed with photos of her home plastered on the internet, subjected to death and rape threats for having an opinion, and was ultimately found stabbed to death in a cemetery. The book takes a clear aim at “social justice warriors” and suggests that Ledwell was a victim of a masterfully plotted, politically fueled hate campaign against her.
But despite the clear similarities to her own life, Rowling claimed to Graham Norton that it’s all just a big coincidence. “I should make it really clear after some of the things that have happened the last year that this is not depicting [that],” she said.
“I had written the book before certain things happened to me online,” she continued. “I said to my husband, ‘I think everyone is going to see this as a response to what happened to me,’ but it genuinely wasn’t. The first draft of the book was finished at the point certain things happened.”