If found James Runcie's intervew with J K Rowling on BBC 2 last night strange viewing. I am sure the BBC was thrilled to have face time with Rowling just before the publication of her "first adult novel" Casual Vacancy.
While Rowling talked a good game around responsibility and hypocracy, she does come across as rather cold subject. There was a touch of empathy implying personal pain just below the surface. This was offset/undermind by a steely manner that brought to mind Margaret Thatcher. A tetchiness of somebody who is used to people agreeing with her. This rather chilly tone was enhanced by the grand setting, and Runcie's often unctious questioning.
Rowling is a novelist, and is not claiming to have written Das Kapital. Therefore I did not expect her to get a Paxo style roasting. However much is being made of the gritty nature of the new book, and she is seldom slow to mention her own experience of living on benefits. Therefore when truisms like 'everything is political' are trotted out I did expect the Runcie to do a bit more than make approving noises.
The most interesting part of the interview came towards the end when reflecting on how the book would be recieved. Early in the interview she had talked of the freedom that the success of Potter had given her. How liberating it had been to write the book that she wanted to write. Thinking about how it would now be recieved was clearly much less liberating. We are all free to write what we want to write in the privacy of our own laptops. It is when it gets published that it gets more complicated.
It is right at the end, that Runcie who had to that point behaved like a Palace correspondant in the presence of the Queen slipped in a little blade. Words to the effect that 'I think you are in for a bumpy ride.' The interview closed to a mirthless laugh and a wan smile.