J.K. Rowling Asks Fans to Submit Illustrations for New Book ‘The Ickabog’

While she’s most known for the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling has written books in multiple genres. In the past few years, she’s primarily stayed away from writing fantasy literature, instead writing mystery novels and the screenplays for the Fantastic Beasts movies. Now, with her upcoming book The Ickabog, Rowling is returning to her fantasy roots.

Interestingly, The Ickabog is not a new book. Rowling’s children played an integral role in its publication. In addition, Rowling wants to see if some of her fans can create illustrations for the book.

J.K. Rowling | Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

Why J.K. Rowling is now publishing a book she wrote years ago

Many authors have written what they call a “trunk novel.” A trunk novel is a book an author writes and decides to shelve. The Ickabog is a trunk novel that’s actually getting released years after Rowling wrote it.

According to The Independent, Rowling wrote The Ickabog over ten years ago. She initially planned to publish it in 2007. However, she decided to focus on writing books for adults instead.

Rowling says her children were instrumental in getting her to publish the book. According to Variety, she said “A few weeks ago at dinner, I tentatively mooted the idea of getting ‘The Ickabog’ down from the attic and publishing it for free, for children in lockdown. My now teenagers were touchingly enthusiastic, so downstairs came the very dusty box, and for the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in a fictional world I thought I’d never enter again.” The fictional world in question is not the world of the Harry Potter franchise, but rather a new fantasyland.

The themes of ‘The Ickabog’

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Some authors prefer to let fans interpret their work for themselves. Rowling, on the other hand, is well-known for letting fans know everything they could want to know about her authorial intent. Rowling has discussed the themes of The Ickabog, calling it a “political fairytale.”

However, Rowling stressed the book has themes that matter in all political contexts and wasn’t designed as a response to current events.According to USA Today, she said “The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country. To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn’t intended to be read as a response to anything that’s happening in the world right now.”

How fans can read ‘The Ickabog’ – and help illustrate it – right now

J.K. Rowling | Bruce Glikas/Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic

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Fans don’t have to wait to begin reading the book. Rowling published the first few chapters of it on the book’s website. She will continue more chapters of the book on the internet daily for the next several weeks.

Rowling is letting fans have some control over the finished book. Specifically, she is looking for younger fans to create illustrations for The Ickabog. “Having decided to publish, I thought how wonderful it would be if children in lockdown, or otherwise needing distraction during the strange and difficult time we’re passing through, illustrated the story for me.”

Also see: ‘Harry Potter’: Why J.K. Rowling Gave Hermione Granger Her Name