J.K. Rowling Announces Plans to Publish a Free Fairy Tale Online -- and She Wants Fans to Illustrate It

jk rowling
John Phillips/Getty Images

The author was adamant that this story will not be a 'Harry Potter' spin-off.

J.K. Rowling is delving back into another magical world for a good cause! The Harry Potter scribe took to Twitter on Tuesday to make an exciting announcement about a new fairy tale she's planning to release. 

From the get-go, Rowling was very clear, writing in all caps, "THIS IS NOT A HARRY POTTER SPIN-OFF."

"Over 10 years ago, I wrote a stand-alone fairy tale called The Ickabog," Rowling began, linking to more details on the piece. "I always meant to publish it, but after the last Potter was released I wrote two novels for adults and, after some dithering, decided to put those out next. Until very recently, the only people who’d heard the story of The Ickabog were my two younger children."

Rowling went on to note that she ended up feeling that the story was "just for family" and put the manuscript in the attic, showing a photo of the box. 

"Opening the box was like opening a time capsule. Most of the story was handwritten, but bits had been typed up. When I put it into some kind of order (I'm not renowned for my filing skills) I had a patchwork first draft," the British author explained. "Over the last few weeks I’ve done a bit of rewriting and I’ve decided to publish the Ickabog for free online, so children on lock down, or even those back at school during these strange, unsettling times, can read it or have it read to them."

As for the premise of the fairy tale, Rowling described, "The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power. 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. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country."

Rowling will be publishing a chapter, or perhaps multiple chapters, every weekday from May 26 through July 10 on a new website that will be launching shortly. In addition, she wants her young fans to help her with the illustrations. 

"I’d like children to illustrate the book for me! I’ll be suggesting ideas for pictures as we go, but nobody should feel constrained by my ideas. Let your imaginations run wild!" Rowling wrote. "The best pictures in each publishing territory will be included in the books we intend to publish in November 2020. As individual publishers will know best which illustrations work in their editions, I won’t be personally judging this competition."

She added that though she won't be selecting the winners, she will be posting and commenting on some of the entries on social media. 

"Lastly, I intend to donate my author royalties from the published books to projects and organizations helping the groups most impacted by COVID-19," Rowling said. "The first two chapters of The Ickabog will be going live in a couple of hours time. Whether you read it yourself, or have it read to you, I hope you enjoy it." 

Rowling published the final Potter book in 2007. She's gone on to publish The Casual Vacancy as well as four mystery novels under the pen name, Robert Galbraith. The fifth in the series of Cormoran Strike novels will be released September 15.