JKR Tweets Strike News: “Ink Black Heart” as Title for Strike 6 Confirmed.

JKR dropped a fascinating tweet today regarding the sixth Strike book. The graphic makes it almost certain that The Ink Black Heart, as Strike Sleuths here had already guessed in April, is the title.

Update:  Another tweet confirmed that The Ink Black Heart is it!

Let the eager anticipation and predictions begin!



  1. Kelly Loomis says

    So exciting. Next year…wonder how long it takes from her “finish” to having it in our hands? Are all the edits done? Or just her first run?

  2. Joanne Gray says

    Pretty sure the editing still needs to be done and the book will be published in tandem with the BBC showing of the Troubled Blood adaptation. Will The Ink Black Heart deal with the Rokeby revelations about the real Leda Strike and/or Charlotte in full revenge mode?

  3. Congratulations to Nick, Patricio, and a correspondent wanting to remain anonymous who first pointed out to me that ‘Ink Black Heart’ was a possible title for Strike6!

    Re-reading Nick’s post on this subject, one he wrote seven months ago (!), and the comment thread following that post, the near consensus then was that, if it were to be ‘Ink Black Heart,’ that this would mean epigraphs from Marilyn Manson song lyrics akin to ‘Career of Evil’s epigraphs from Blue Oyster Cult album cuts. (The logic springs from the 50 roses Rowling-Galbraith sent Manson and that Manson supposedly has an ‘Ink Black Heart’ inked on his arm as a tattoo [the Manson website page about his tattoos does not mention one].)

    This possibility was not met with any kind of enthusiasm back in the day both because it displaced the then frontrunner, ‘The Last Cries of Men,’ a line from John Donne, and, well, ‘Career of Evil’ is no one’s favorite at HogwartsProfessor. The Best Ian Rankin Novel Not Written by Ian Rankin pales in comparison with the Ibsen and Spenser story scaffolding and brilliance of ‘Lethal White’ and ‘Troubled Blood.’ This is not to mention — because I doubt the news would deter Rowling-Galbraith! — the recent scandals swirling about Manson and attempts to cancel him a la Johnny Depp.

    Anyway, its a good time to re-read or listen to Nick’s catch of seven months ago, my post about Manson in February 2020, and the ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast on the same subject with Bea Groves and Elizabeth Baird-Hardy in April 2020. Suspecting that our guess about Manson may be misplaced — no tattoo — and that we will someday get the Donne-epigraphed novel (how fitting if the seven book cycle ends with ‘done’), I’m hopeful about the future.

    In fact, ‘Ink Black Heart,’ given Rowling’s use of light and darkness and of the heart as spiritual faculty (count the heart references in the ‘The Forest Again,’ the chapter Rowling said in 2007 was a key to the series — or the explanation of same in Deathly Hallows Lectures) makes this an especially intriguing title. Could Strike6 be the book in which we learn about the madness of Peter Gillespie? Given Rowling’s Peter-John theme, about which more in a coming post, the possibility that Peter killed Leda seems more and more likely. ‘The bishop’s steward,’ the meaning of ‘Gillespie’ and apt given his relationship with Rokeby/Zeus, may have taken more offense at Strike’s comments to his biological father than the young man ever guessed…

    Again, congratulations to Nick, Patricio, and my unnamed correspondent for their prescient deductions and penetrating sleuthing!

  4. With picture – https://bodyartguru.com/marilyn-manson-tattoos/
    Tattoo: The inner side of his left wrist contains a tattoo of a heart on it that has been made out a single spiraling line.

    Meaning: The design is called the twisted heart and represents another one of Manson’s albums, titled, “Eat Me, Drink Me”

    It also occurred to me that the last Galbraith newsletter noted goth influences in the Strike books. Yes, they could be tied into Halloween/All Saints, but perhaps it was trying to tell us something.

  5. The spiral single line ‘heart’ among Manson’s tattoos does not strike (ahem) me as an ‘ink black heart,’ but I guess I should have noted the spiral heart was listed on the web page to which I linked. The spiral is a traditional symbol of note because it is simultaneously an image of expansion and contraction, reflecting the polarity without duality of transcendence and immanence (solve et coagula), but the symbolism of ‘ink black,’ i.e., the absence of light, is almost exactly its opposite. The two can be confused or conflated but they have contrary meanings though they involve hearts and have black ink.

    Rowling is not casual with her use of traditional symbols and is quite specific in ‘Deathly Hallows’ embedded symbol of the triangulated and bisected circle about how she thinks they are best interpreted (the Quadriga or four levels). The level at which we are working here — black heart = Marilyn Manson = Satanism, Gothdom, etc. — is akin to Viktor Krum’s interpretation of the Deathly Hallows symbol worn by Xenophilius LKovegood as a token of Grindelwald’s fascism. Read the relevant tale from ‘Beedle the Bard’ and Dumbledore’s introduction as well as ‘Into the Forest Again’ for a better idea of where Rowling’s heart symbolism will probably lead.

  6. Just a footnote here: the idea that Ink Black Heart will be a parallel with ‘Career’ is not a natural bet, at least not according to ring composition turtle-back structure.

    We have already had that parallel in ‘Troubled Blood.’

    The ‘ink’ in ‘Ink Black Heart’ suggests ”Silkworm’ parallels insteasd of ‘Career’ because the word ‘ink,’ rather than its slang link with tattoos, is much more obviously connected with printing press and pen fluid. Just as ‘Silkworm’ was Rowling’s most remarkable meta-literary text (really saying something with the competition Lethal White and Strike 5 represent) with a lot of inside baseball about the UK publishing industry, ‘Ink Black Heart’ with the several books we have been told are in progress inside Strike’s fictional world (see Louise’s Strike6 predictions for a list) is at least as likely to be another visit to the niche culture of British book business.

  7. I’ll do that. In the meantime, is there a definitive meaning behind Troubled Blood? I like the Strike titles, but they’re a bit ambiguous.

    I find the twisted heart to be evocative. Think of all of the things that are done for “love”; some nasty, some noble. Sometimes love gets twisted into something terrible. The “Eat Me, Drink Me” album has vampire lyrics which brings Draco to mind and Narcissa’s desperation to save him in Half-Blood. It wasn’t only Lily Potter who was willing to sacrifice herself for her son. Bad people can love their children and want what is best for them. The wiki page for the album also says its primary literary influence is “Lolita”. Talk about twisted. Given all of the examples of children being used and abused in Strike books, the inclusion of a Lolita type plot wouldn’t be surprising. So I’ll go back and read about JKR and her use of symbols, but I find a lot of room for imagination in Manson’s inked heart. We’re a few months from knowing if the Manson-related speculation turns out to be entirely wrong.

  8. That ‘Lolita’ link is significant as Rowling’s Nabokov admiration and admitted influence is right up there with Austen. The possibility of a Manson connection with ‘Ink Black heart’ is much more credible if this link is one Rowling is aware of, something, as you point out, we’ll only know post-publication. Great find!

  9. Karol, Mr. Granger,

    At least two plausible links have been mentioned in connection with the title of Strike 6. First, we had Manson, followed by Nabokov. Now it seems possible that there is one more shared text to add to Rowling’s (potential) cauldron of story. That would have to be the two “Alice” books, written by Lewis Carroll.

    The reason for its addition is provided by none other than the one who sent Rowling the bouquet of roses. It was Karol bringing up the title of Manson’s album that set the gears turning. That album’s title is itself a reference to the two notices that come attached with a side of cake, along with a bottle full of potion that greets Alice in the course of the following the White Rabbit. That’s also the most obvious sounding reference, yet how to be sure that this is what Manson is referring to, and why use it to describe an entire album?

    “Manson began his recording sessions on the album in November 2005 but was focused on his film Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll, the process of opening an art gallery and personal troubles relating to his marriage…Manson explained that “[he] was writing in the way you would write a diary” and as a result thinks that the record was written from a “more mature musical point of view.”[4]

    “This is the record I’ve worked all my life to get to. You always have to transform, or you can’t continue as an artist, and this record has been the biggest transformation for me […] It’s better heard than described […] On this record I really wanted to sing, and that has to come from a naked, emotional place. It’s not a record about me crying, or songs about my woes, but I think this record will probably speak to more people in different ways, because of its total human element […] If I had to do a record review, I’d say it’s got a cannibal, consumption, obsessive, violent-sex, romance angle, but with an upbeat swing to it”.

    Whatever that’s supposed to mean, Manson went on to elaborate on the themes of the album as follows: “This record is definitely so crucial to my life. I think this record shows a human side of me, shows a vulnerable side of me, which is linked to Lewis Carroll. […] it is like the Christ’s mythology with the vampires’ mythology.” In addition, the record also contains the song entitled, “Are You the Rabbit?” which “builds off of Manson’s obsession with Lewis Carroll”.

    “The most prevalent literary influence of the album and Manson’s state of being is that of Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, one of the most notorious books of the Twentieth Century. The song “Heart-Shaped Glasses” is the most obvious nod to Lolita as, according to Manson, Evan Rachel Wood is also a huge fan of Nabokov and had deliberately worn heart-shaped sunglasses upon meeting for a tryst when their relationship became romantic.

    “Connections to the novel are much deeper than simply the inside joke between Manson and Wood of the obvious age difference and the heart-shaped sunglasses as associated with Lolita appear only in the promotional poster and cover of Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of the novel, not actually in the film itself or in Nabokov’s novel.

    “According to Manson, vampirism is just one of the dark themes running through Eat Me, Drink Me. “If I had to do a record review, I’d say it’s got a cannibal, consumption, obsessive, violent-sex, romance angle, but with an upbeat swing to it.” Aside from the obvious Lewis Carroll and Jesus Christ references, Manson says the album’s title was also inspired by the story of Armin Meiwes, who placed an ad online for a person consenting to be eaten.

    “The Vampire, whom Manson personified during “Eat Me, Drink Me”, in one regard is an inversion of the mythology of Christ. Both entities rise from the dead but as Christ offers his body and blood for his disciples to feast upon in communion with him, the vampire as contrary to this, devours the flesh and blood of his victims in order to make them one with him”.

    As to the question of Heart symbolism, this is as far as Manson himself can take things, it seems. “In 2007, Eat Me, Drink Me brought with it, for the first time in nearly over ten years, a symbol Manson adopted to represent himself with that did not have an immediate and apparent deeper connotation to the occult, mock-fascism or an artistic movement. This logo, later dubbed the “heart-shaped spiral” in official online store item descriptions, was minimalistically a roughly drawn heart which spiraled at its center. Manson revealed that it was an homage to Wood for inspiring him with love and creative drive which was the impetus needed to create the album. He elaborated that as it was tattooed on his left inner wrist.

    “The Eat Me, Drink Me era’s visuals, was inspired by the iconography of the 1935 Karl Freund film Mad Love. As can be seen within both the album artwork and repeated on the CD single for “Putting Holes in Happiness”, we see a closeup of Manson’s eye with a heart as the pupil signifying a romantic and newly inspired Manson with literal “hearts in his eyes”. In very close relation to the film and artwork of Mad Love, which portrayed an insane and malformed monster of a man who is driven to create his mad abominations by the love of a woman, Manson’s eyes can be seen to signify this theme likewise in reflecting how Evan inspired his resurgence of creativity needed to compose the album.

    “Though not particularly esoteric or heavy in symbolism, the primary Eat Me, Drink Me Marilyn Manson logo were two blood dripping fang-like M’s to represent the initials of the band. Fairly self-explanatory in representation, and included here for the sake of being all-inclusive, the dripping red M’s are nonetheless an iconic logo in themselves and work effectively in illustrating the many vampiric themes of the album”.

    The place where I discovered all this information can be found here:


    Here, then, is a list of all the puzzle pieces that have been assembled so far. The work of Nabokov. The fantasy of Lewis Carroll. A Marilyn Manson album which ties the previous two together. Rowling’s Heart title, which points toward dissolve and coagulate. Oh yes, almost forgot. In addition, there might also be an obscure 1935 Peter Lorre film. What does that all mean? The best I have to add at this moment is to note that Nabokov himself made a translation of Carroll’s Wonderland into Russian.

    All I can offer besides this is just two thoughts. It raises the possibility that Rock ‘n Roll “might” play at least some part in the story. Beyond that, what I can tell with certainty is that this is the Albedo of the series. That means look for a different, faster pace for the narrative action, combined with a lighter sense of overall mood. For instance, Rowling said that the novel would feature a younger cast. It leads one to believe we may be in for some comedic material of Strike having to play catch-up to a bunch of teenagers, or something like that. Maybe they’re Manson fans, and will be the key demographic at the heart of this next case?

    One final plot prediction, coupled with speculation. In some ways, its a minor revision to one of my previous theories. The first is that it does at least sound like we might be catching up with Whitaker in the near future. The second is the open question of his ultimate fate, both as culprit and character. I earlier characterized him as an analogue for George Merry, a secondary antagonist in R.L. Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”.

    For some strange reason, it is only now that it occurs to me that he could play a different role. The more I think of it, his entire hinted background would almost make him more suited to a role like that of Billy Bones. So it’s in this frame of mind that I wonder whether it isn’t fit to speculate that Whitaker might wind up a murder victim at some future date?

  10. I was wondering whether we`ll see the biography of Rokeby that was hinted at in Silkworm?

  11. Beth,

    You’ve just put a notion in my mind. The basic train of thought runs like this. The title of the sixth Strike book is “The Ink-Black Heart”. It’s one of those titles that can beg a question only for a bookworm type, such as yourself. The question might go as follows. Just whose “Heart” are we talking about here, exactly?

    Could it belong to Rokeby? If that’s the case, then one possibility is that we could wind up getting some more info on Deadbeat Dad in this next installment. And, to be fair, at this late date, some kind background information is almost owed to the audience at this point, at least if the figure of Strike’s dad is to have any vital part to play in the series.

    Beyond this, however, it’s all speculation. It could also be the case that title alludes to a symbol that is made deliberately multi-valent. In other words, the idea of the Black Heart is perhaps a topoi that it meant to be applicable to more than one character. In addition to Rokeby, for instance, it could also apply to the Strike on some level. Then there are people like Whitaker, another character who’s personality also would easily apply to the the title.

    Of all the possible interpretations out there, I think the safest one is to treat the title as a symbols multiple applicability. Not just because it lets us all off the hook, either. It’s the same way all the other titles in the series have work. Nowhere is this more evident than in the cases of “Silkworm”, “Lethal White”, and Troubled Blood”. Each of those names take on a multifold meaning as revealed by their respective stories, once they are taken in their totality. As a result, it’s not out of court to believe the same practice is in play with “The Ink-Black Heart”.

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