LONDON, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- J. K. Rowling's first novel for grown-ups, the Casual Vacancy, received warm welcome from fans when it was launched Thursday.
According to Rowling, there is no Hogwarts school or cloaked wizards in her first adult novel, but an idyllic fictional village named Pagford, and people from different classes in conflict with one another.
"This novel for adults is filled with a variety of people like Harry's aunt and uncle, Petunia and Vernon Dursley: self-absorbed, small-minded, snobbish and judgmental folks, whose stories neither engage nor transport us."
"I have got this idea on the plane to America," she told more than 1,000 audiences at London's Southbank Center Thursday evening. She then put aside another book which was half written, and started to work on the Casual Vacancy.
The book tells a black comedy of village life, about how an empty seat in local council left by a dead incumbent suddenly led to the biggest war the town has yet seen.
Describing the story as "panoramic," Rowling, 47, told fans that she made it up at the idea that "local election sabotaged by teenagers" several years ago and took five years to complete. The novel thus has teenagers at the center, like in the Harry Potter series.
"But these teenagers are not Harry, Ron and Hermione," she said. "They are different teenagers, contemporary teenagers."
Readers could also see sex and drug addiction scenes in the gritty story, which is widely expected to be Britain's best-selling fiction this year.
There are several deaths in the story as well, like in the Harry Potter series. "I hate killing people," Rowling claimed jokingly.
Rowling admitted to have been obsessed by death. But after contemplating on death in her writing, she said she is now "less frightened of death," although it still remains "a huge mystery."
However, language in this new book is definitely more "adult." Rowling read some paragraphs of the book to audiences, while curses were frequently heard, suggesting that this is a book totally different from her previous series, in which a bespectacled boy grew up along with his fans.
In fact, most of the attendants to the event, clutching a book with them, are fans of Rowling's seven-book Harry Potter series.
A young man from Spain told Rowling with trembling voice that he had prepared a gift for her. Rowling later gave him a hug, and the boy wept in excitement.
Another lady said she had wrote to Rowling, and she still remembered that letter.
The questions from readers are also concerned with Harry Potter, and the writer revealed that the character she liked most was Professor Dumbledore, and if possible, she would like to make many changes in the plot, since the characters in the blockbuster are all "too good looking."
"I feel great pressure after the Potter series," Rowling said. "People want to know what's next." As for her new book, she said, "It is a challenge, but I love writing it."
The book, published by Little, Brown Book Group, hit the shops at 8 a.m. Thursday and has already sold 1 million advance copies.