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JK Rowling: Megan Phelps-Roper says new podcast was ‘never intended to vindicate’ author

Megan Phelps-Roper has said her forthcoming podcast with JK Rowling was “never intended to vindicate” the author.

The Witch Trials of JK Rowling is a seven-part podcast, which will be released on Tuesday (21 February).

According to its blurb, the episodes will “examine some of the most contentious conflicts of our time through the life and career of the world’s most successful author”.

The blurb also states that it will include interviews “with Rowling’s supporters and critics”, including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The author has faced accusations of transphobia in recent years over statements she has made about transgender people and gender. A number of the Harry Potter cast have distanced themselves from the author.

Rowling has rejected the idea that she is transphobic and has said previously that she “knows and loves” trans people.

Speaking to The Times ahead of the podcast’s release, Phelps-Roper – author of the 2019 book Unfollow – said: “This was never a defence of JK Rowling. It was never intended to vindicate her.

“It’s an attempt to understand what’s happening, and to do that you need the perspectives of so many other people – on all sides – because the issues are so complex.”

 (Getty Images for Warner Bros.)
(Getty Images for Warner Bros.)

Phelps-Roper continued: “She knew from the beginning that that was part of it and I think that appealed to her. She didn’t feel like she needed a champion at all.”

The writer, 37, lives in rural South Dakota. She is best known for escaping the extremist Westboro Baptist Church.

The church – founded by her grandfather Fred Phelps – was the subject of a Louis Theroux documentary in 2007, which called them “the most hated family in America”.

Phelps-Roper broke away from the church in 2012. She has spent the past decade working as a speaker and activist, as per The Times.

After writing a letter to Rowling – in which Phelps-Roper said she was “worried about what social media is doing to public discourse, by incentivising extremes” – she was invited to speak with Rowling on Zoom.

In May 2022, Phelps-Roper flew to Edinbugh in order to interview Rowling in her home.

The interviews took place over six days across May and August from the drawing room of Rowling’s 17th century stone house.