Rowling Interview: Tracks of My Years

We learned pre-publication that Troubled Blood would feature Joni Mitchell’s 1974 ‘Court and Spark’ album. The source of that revelation was publicity for an interview Rowling had recorded for a BBC radio program, ‘The Tracks of My Years’ (read all about that here). The has posted a transcript of the interview; hat-tip to Nick Jeffery for the find! Here are the two pieces of that conversation I thought most interesting:

Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell – on inspiring her latest book

JK: Before I began writing Troubled Blood… I looked up all the albums that came out in 1974 because the whodunnit… concerns a women who vanished in 1974 and I wanted to peg her disappearance to an album that she would have loved and I saw that Court and Spark… had come out then and I thought that’s perfect, perfect for this character. So then I began listening to it and listening to it and listening to it and then I loved it so much I now literally own everything that Joni Mitchell has ever brought out and I can now honestly call myself a mad Joni Mitchell fan. It was an odd way to discover all her other work, but I think she’s just untouchable, and as a lyricist I think there’s no one better. My husband last Christmas bought me a book of all her lyrics and it can be read like fine poetry. She’s absolutely extraordinary… Court and Spark is now one of my very favourite albums.

It wasn’t as much of the plot of Troubled Blood as I’d hoped — and certainly the Cornish song Strike sings at the end, ‘Trelawney’ as Evan Willis has pointed out, is much more important — and fun — than any of the Mitchell tracks quoted. The Peg-Legged PI has almost signed on to Dave Polworth’s Independence campaign! That’s as big a shift as his buying thoughtful gifts for Robin in the epilogue… What a disappointment, too, that Rowling didn’t include a track from a Tom Waits album.

On being involved with the screen adaptations of her work

JK: Well, interestingly, I’ve been much more involved in the TV show than I have been with the movies. With the TV show, because I’m writing a series about my detectives, Strike and Robin, I have been very involved because I didn’t want the TV show to take them to places that I know they wouldn’t go because I know what’s coming, so that’s been such a happy project. I’ve loved all of it and I think and believe it’s been a very happy experience for everyone involved… a lovely cast and amazing crew, it’s been really satisfying…. It’s always a challenge because certain changes need to be made between novel and screen and I’m always sympathetic to that; different media have different demands, but the tv adaptations of the Galbraith novels I think have been very very faithful.

The embedded criticism of Warner Brothers here, frankly, is deafening. Rowling will no longer allow adaptations of her work over which she has little or no control. Which, given her dicey relationship with Harry Potter fandom these days and the stars of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, all of whom have sided with the transgender activists in criticizing her position as “transphobic,” means what? I would not be surprised if the Beasts franchise only continues if she has approval of Kloves’ screenplays and she agrees to separate herself from the publicity, etc.

Your thoughts on these notes and other parts of the interview are welcome! Please share in the comment boxes below.


  1. Nick Jeffery says

    The interview is being rolled out in small fragments this week.
    In Robert Galbraith’s acknowledgements in Troubled Blood the author thanks William Leone and Lynne Corbett “for inspiration and checking [her] calculations”. William and Lynne are the real names of celebrity astrologers Courteney Cox and Stella Starsky with whom J. K. Rowling spent a year in Paris.
    In the interview (due to air on Thursday) she says one of her favorite tracks “Waitress by First Aid Kit” reminds her of her one of her oldest friends Lynn (sp.?), she spent time in Paris with her.

  2. Patricio Tarantino says

    I didn’t like that she associated All Along the Watchtower with Hendrix and not Bob Dylan, the original songwriter and performer. I know Hendrix made it popular, but come on, Jo!

  3. Along the lines of her very positive comments about the Strike TV series and the comments by Nick Jeffery and the end of ‘Troubled Blood’s acknowledgements–there is also thanks given to Tom Burke (TV Cormoran Strike): “For fascinating Crowleyana and Atlantis bookshop.” No doubt when they were both discussing the character of Charlotte (Campbell) Ross and Burke’s novelist grandfather.

    I confess I have finished the book and I absolutely loved it. I also think it’s the best book in the series. It was also the first time that I listened to the book in audio rather than reading it the first time through. I believe that was actually the best way to approach such a long and complex book. It created a more immediate and emotion experience for me. Listening let me experience the book, totally immersed in the world and characters, as it played in my mind’s eye over a compressed period of time. It still lingers in my mind and I can’t wait to discuss it once everyone has read it on this site.

  4. Beatrice Groves says

    ‘I wrote some spoof things for friends to make them laugh’ – some hidden texts for someone to unearth….

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