Belfast Telegraph

J.K. Rowling scribbled story idea on Halloween dress

The Harry Potter creator was encouraged to use a pen name at the start of her career so readers wouldn't know her gender.

J.K. Rowling has locked a new story away in a closet, because it's scrawled on an old dress.

The Harry Potter author decided to write the text outline for a new drama on a party dress she wore to a Halloween party that doubled as her 50th birthday bash in 2015.

In a new interview with news channel CNN, she reveals, "The theme of my 50th birthday, which I held at Halloween, even though that’s not really my birthday, was come as your own private nightmare. I went as a lost manuscript.

"I wrote over a dress most of that book... I don't know whether it will ever be published, but it’s actually hanging in a wardrobe currently."

The writer also tells CNN she was encouraged to adopt a pen name when her Harry Potter story first got picked up, because publishers wanted to disguise the fact she was a woman.

She adopted the initials J.K. for her first name from her real name Joanne and her grandmother Kathleen.

"My publisher... said to me, 'We think this is a book that will appeal to boys and girls..., so could we use your initials?'" she recalls.

"Basically they were trying to disguise my gender. And obviously, that lasted about three seconds, because... the book won an award and I got a big advance from America and I got a lot of publicity. So I was outed as a woman.

"But I quite like J.K. I think I wouldn't have chosen it... but I was so grateful to be published, if they told me to call myself Rupert, I probably would have done to be honest with you."

And now she's very fond of her moniker: "I actually quite like having a pen name, because I feel that to an extent, that feels like an identity and then in private life, I'm Jo Murray. And it feels like quite a nice separation."

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