AUTHOR JK Rowling has insisted that the town of Pagford in her new novel A Casual Vacancy is not a thinly- disguised version of Chepstow.
The Harry Potter writer was brought up in Tutshill from the age of nine. She attended school in Sedbury.
Speaking to about 2,500 fans at Cheltenham Literature Festival, she denied that Pagford and its rich variety of characters are just Chepstowby another name.
“It is an entirely fictional west country town,” she said.
“It is not Chepstow but it has got a few Chepstow-esque features.
“Chepstow is dominated by a lovely ruined castle and Pagford is dominated by a ruined abbey – rather like Tintern Abbey near where I grew up.”
Just as Pagford is not Chepstow, so none of the characters in the book are derived from real individuals, she said.
“When you write a novel you have to know each of your characters inside out and you never really know real people that well!” she said.
She did have one regret – she wishes she had not named one of her leading characters Barry.
“People keep pointing out to me that Barry rhymes with Harry,” she said – inferring that they think Barry is really Harry Potter by another name.
“I wish I’d called him Kevin!
There are hundreds of characters so it’s inevitable that some of the names might rhyme with characters from Harry Potter.”
During her festival talk, Ms Rowling revealed that her next book will be for children ‘slightly younger’ than the Harry Potter age group.
She has several new projects in the pipeline, including another novel for adults – but a children’s book will be the first to be published, she said.
She made the revelation after one of the 2,500 audience asked her if she makes up stories for her children when she puts them to bed.
“I do make up stories for my children and they are very much tailored to my children, so I don’t think you will be seeing them in book form,” she said.
She also spoke of her personal battle with depression, which she has admitted to suffering throughout her career.
She recently revealed that she had undergone therapy several times to help her cope with adjusting to her fame and fortune.
She said: “I do have a tendency to walk on the dark side sometimes.
“I have suffered from depression, I know how that feels. I have an innate inclination that way. Writing does help with that.”
The author also said that the “proudest moment” of her life was her appearance in the London Olympics opening ceremony in July, when she sat on a grassy mound and read an extract from JM Barrie’s Peter Pan.