J. K. Rowling: A Year in the Life is “an intimate, personal encounter” with Harry Potter’s creator

Tapping into the general bloodlust for anything and everything Harry Potter, ABC will air a British documentary tonight about the book/franchise’s creator that looks at her life and motivations rather than her subject matter.

J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life airs at 8 p.m. ET and follows during the year prior to the release of the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathy Hallows, from October 2006 to October 2007.

Although the documentary is hosted by Elizabeth Vargas, this is actually a film by British writer and filmmaker James Runcie that aired on ITV in 2007. Runcie writes on his web site that it’s “an intimate, personal encounter, in which J.K. Rowling talks simply and honestly about her life and her writing,” and says, “I didn’t ask very much about magic, or quidditch, or the twists and turns of the Harry Potter story, as I wanted to get to the heart of what her writing was really about” because “the aim was to make something more quietly revealing, to discover what Rowling really thought, and to discuss some of the central themes of her work; childhood hopes and fears, loyalty and betrayal, chance and fate.”

ABC News has a written preview of its revelations. Although its material is a year and a half old, and The New York Daily News notes that “Vargas doesn’t update the narrative, however, or tie it to the new movie, so it often plays more like a slice of recent pop-culture history than a news special.”

Here’s the first segment of the documentary, during which we see Rowling working on book seven, and Runcie explains his mission: “I want to find out the secret of J.K. Rowling’s success: how has she done it, and where has it all come from?”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.