TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Felt the ‘Purest Dislike’ for Harry Potter Villain Dolores Umbridge

J.K. Rowling at the Southbank Centre in London in 2012.
J.K. Rowling at the Southbank Centre in London in 2012. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

"Every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil”

Just in time for Halloween, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling published a new essay Friday about one of her greatest villains: the Hogwarts professor and witch, Dolores Umbridge.

The nasty Umbridge is one of the characters for whom Rowling “feel[s] the purest dislike,” according to the 1,700-word essay, posted to her website Pottermore (account required). “Her desire to control, to punish, and to inflict pain, all in the name of law and order, are, I think, every bit as reprehensible as Lord Voldemort’s unvarnished espousal of evil.”

Rowling also reveals that Umbridge is actually based on a real-life person, though the author is careful not to reveal her identity. She does reveal that “[t]he woman in question returned my antipathy with interest. Why we took against each other so instantly, heartily and (on my side, at least) irrationally, I honestly cannot say.”

Harry Potter fans have long been familiar with Umbridge and her cruel ways, as the character was first introduced in the 2003 novel Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At the time, Umbridge was the Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic.

But Rowling also reveals new details about Umbridge in her Pottermore essay, including the fact that Umbridge is a “half-blood”—the daughter of a wizard and a Muggle (a regular person). The author also writes that when Umbridge forced Harry, who was in detention at the time, to cut the words “I must not tell lies” onto the back of his hand, she became the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on the boy wizard.

In addition to the new essay about Umbridge, Rowling has also published more brand new writing to Pottermore for Halloween and to celebrate the launch of The Order of the Phoenix onto the website. The new entries include details about the creatures Thestrals, the history of the wizarding prison Azkaban, Rowling’s thoughts on professor Sybil Trelawney and an introduction to the wizarding practice of Naming Seers.

Read next: Harry Potter Site Teases New J.K. Rowling Story

TIME Infectious Disease

The Ebola Crisis Is Bringing Expat Doctors Back to West Africa

A health worker in protective gear carries empty blood sample kits at the Bong County Ebola treatment center in Suakoko, Liberia, Oct. 19, 2014.
A health worker in protective gear carries empty blood sample kits at the Bong County Ebola treatment center in Suakoko, Liberia, Oct. 19, 2014. Daniel Berehulak—Redux/The New York Times

For some West African doctors and nurses living overseas, the sense of obligation to their native countries outweighs the risk of contracting the highly infectious disease

The Ebola crisis that has made many want to flee West Africa has persuaded Derek Bangura to go back. “Since I’ve left Sierra Leone, I’ve not made that much contribution to its development,” says Bangura, a 46-year-old general physician who lives and works in London. He has not lived in his native Sierra Leone for 30 years. Now he is preparing to go to his native country for eight weeks, beginning in late December, to help combat the infectious disease that has killed at least 4,922 people. “I just felt that this is the time to make a difference,” he says.

As the Ebola crisis in West Africa continues to devastate entire communities across Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, many expatriate health workers from the region have faced a complicated choice between continuing their lives in the West or returning home to help combat the disease and, in the process, risk contracting Ebola.

Public health experts, world leaders and aid organizations agree that more doctors on the front line is one of the only things that will help beat the epidemic in West Africa. “We need literally thousands and thousands of trained health workers who will need more training around Ebola to step up and volunteer,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in Washington D.C. last week. The public health systems in the affected countries including the staffing levels at hospitals and clinics were woefully lacking even before the Ebola epidemic struck.

For decades the affected countries — like many nations in the developing world — had lost many of their doctors and nurses to the U.S. and Europe. Many trained or aspiring doctors and nurses who may face low wages, poor working conditions and overwhelming workloads at home are swayed by the promise of better facilities and higher salaries abroad. The result is that many African nations have an alarming shortage of qualified health care workers.

According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s figures, the number of doctors working in Liberia and Guinea before the outbreak of Ebola is one for every 100,000 citizens. Sierra Leone fares slightly better with two doctors for every 100,000 citizens. The U.S. has around 242 doctors for every 100,000 citizens.

In the best of circumstances, these nations’ health care systems are strained. The Ebola epidemic has all but broken them down completely. Stephen Kennedy, a Liberian doctor who did most of his training in the U.S. and returned home last year, tells TIME that Liberia’s “entire health care system has collapsed and people are dying from preventable diseases like malaria.”

For many Sierra Leonean, Liberian and Guinean health care workers living abroad, the epidemic has pulled them back to the places of their birth.

Abdullah Kiatamba heads the Minnesota African Task Force Against Ebola, which is organizing a contingent of Liberian-born doctors and nurses who want to volunteer in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. He says that more than 150 nurses and doctors have volunteered and hope to leave by the end of November. “If we are setting the example that we are afraid to go, why would someone want to risk their life for us when we are not willing?” says Kiatamba.

Bandura shares that sense of obligation but he also knows that not everyone feels the same way. “The people who once lived there have a kind of expertise,” he says. “I was trying to get more doctors of Sierra Leonean origin who would be handy because of their local knowledge and language — they would be ideal.” But for many of his fellow Sierra Leonean colleagues, the pull hasn’t been strong enough. “It’s all to do with the risk. They’re not willing to take that risk.”

Kiatamba in Minnesota also says that worries have weighed on the minds of many volunteers. Even those who don’t fear contracting Ebola are concerned about how volunteering might affect their jobs, their families, their immigration status and their relationships in the U.S. “These are some of the concerns right now,” he says.

These fears have been increased by new guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which could lead to returning health workers being asked to undergo voluntary at-home isolation.

The chances of contracting Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are higher than elsewhere, especially for health care workers treating infected patients. Basic equipment — such as gloves and adequate hand-washing stations — are often missing or sparse. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed four counties in Liberia and found, “There was insufficient personal protective equipment to care for patients with Ebola.” According to the World Health Organization, as of Oct. 8, 416 health workers in West Africa had been infected and 233 of those workers had died from Ebola.

The risk is so high that many physicians who were already practising in West Africa have fled. The CDC report also found that several doctors working in the Liberia counties studied had “left Liberia because of the epidemic.” Also: “In two of four hospitals assessed, nursing staff members were not coming to work or had abandoned facilities; in another hospital, health care providers had not been paid for three months but were still providing basic care. Frequently, nursing students, nursing aides, and community health care volunteers were providing basic medical care and responding to obstetric and surgical emergencies.”

In August, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf went so far as to fire state officials who were abroad and refused to return to Liberia to fight Ebola. Yet her son, a physician who lives in Georgia, was at the same time also leaving Liberia after initially helping to combat the disease, out of fear of infection. “The symbolism of me going there and potentially getting Ebola when I have a nine- and a seven-year-old at home isn’t worth it just to appease people,” James Adama Sirleaf told the Wall Street Journal about his decision to return to the U.S.

Fear of the disease is more than understandable yet there are still those who are willing to return to the countries they left in search of a new life abroad. “My connection [to Sierra Leone] is there,” says Bangura, who begins specialized training for his mission in early December. “We all know it is risky but someone has to do it.”

TIME Books

Love, Marriage and Us: A New Novel Mulls the Gone Girl Question

Us, by David Nicholls
Us, by David Nicholls

Megan Gibson is a writer and reporter for TIME, currently based in London.

In his new book, Booker Prize winner David Nicholls examines how a husband and wife found themselves in a disintegrating union

David Nicholls knew One Day would be a tough act to follow. The 2009 tragic love story was not only an international best seller, it also spawned a Hollywood adaptation. It was so successful that Nicholls worried in a 2012 interview with The Independent that his follow-up might “disappoint” people.

Us is that follow-up and it hits U.S. shelves today. The novel, which centers on a marriage in trouble, has already received accolades and was even long-listed for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, so Nicholls apparently didn’t have much to worry about. Yet Us is also another love story, of sorts—as the narrator and hero Douglas Petersen says, “Certainly love comes into it”—and it’s hard to pick the book up without reflecting, even briefly, on its predecessor.

Yet once I got into Us, I wasn’t reminded of One Day, but instead of a different best-seller, one that also zeroes in on marriage: Gone Girl. Or, at least, a happier, lighter, more well-adjusted version of Gone Girl. No, David Nicholls hasn’t waded into murder mystery territory. Remember that while Gillian Flynn’s 2012 psychological thriller – and its David Fincher-directed big-screen adaptation – deals with crime and deception as much as it does with relationships, it also takes an in-depth look at the state of marriage and what years together can do to a couple. On the very first page, when Nick Dunne contemplates what his wife, Amy, is thinking, he asks himself, “What have we done to each other?”

In a much more benign way, that is also the central question at the heart of Us. While Douglas Petersen is a middle-aged biochemist with sensible tastes, his long-time wife Connie is a spontaneous and vivacious artist-type—Douglas’s complete opposite. The two also have a moody teenage son, Albie, who adores Connie, annoys Douglas and is about to head off for college. The book opens with Connie’s announcement one night that, after years together, she’s thinking of leaving Douglas. He’s railroaded by the news, but agrees to go along with her and Albie on a “Grand Tour” of Europe—Douglas’s final chance to win back his wife’s love and save his marriage.

If that sounds like a huge feat, Douglas is here to make the reader understand that he’s done it before. Between chapters describing the “Grand Tour,” Douglas goes back in time, to “Before Connie,” to recount how the couple first met, at a dinner party his sister throws. He is not only instantly smitten, he also immediately realizes that in order to attract anyone as edgy and arty as Connie, he might need to rethink his ordered, sensible life.

“[My] transformation began even before our second date,” he explains. “I had for some time been living the wrong sort of life and my drab flat in Balham was a reflection of this. The bare magnolia walls, the flat-pack furniture, the dusty paper lightshades and 100-watt bulbs. A woman as cool as Connie Moore would not stand for this. It would all have to go.”

But it’s not just his flat that Douglas feels the need to tweak to impress his future-wife. He describes delving into art, theater, novels and music – all things he’d previously been uninterested in – in order to entice and connect with Connie. In short, he tries to become a different person. It’s seemingly an extensive overhaul and somewhat reminiscent of Amy Elliot Dunne’s famous “Cool Girl” rant, in which she rages about the myriad ways women transform themselves into exactly who they think men want them to be, twisting themselves in knots in the process.

“Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2,” Amy fumes when recalling her courtship with Nick. “Men actually think this girl exists.”

Of course, while Amy’s description of the hoops she – and all women, or so she believes – must jump through in order to land a guy is nothing short of bitter, Douglas’s account of the lengths he goes to impress Connie is heartfelt. Unlike Amy, he doesn’t express disgust that such a performance is believed; he’s relieved. Even years later, when their marriage starts to wear thin, Douglas doesn’t seem to be bothered by the efforts he made for love. “I was grateful,” he reflects. “My wife educated me.”

Eventually, however, Douglas, like Amy before him, realizes that an act is unsustainable and, over the years, his real buttoned-up self shines through. The tedium of work and commuting and parenting and everyday life sets in. That may be where the relationship becomes more honest, but it’s also more susceptible to disenchantment and deterioration.

Though in both tone and genre Us and Gone Girl are seriously light years apart, each novel makes a serious attempt to excavate a marriage from the initial flirty courtship to the downward spiral and back again. Just as Flynn’s psychological mine-field has moments of levity and sweetness, Us takes us into the darker corners of the Petersens’ life together.

Luckily for the marriage in Us, Nicholls’ characters are nowhere near as vicious as those in Gone Girl (though Connie’s choice to break her husband’s heart before insisting he tour Europe with her seems pointlessly cruel). That doesn’t necessarily mean that Douglas and Connie’s marriage contract ultimately fares better than Nick and Amy’s, though I won’t spoil either book here. But for all of their burdens and battles, Douglas and Connie have moments of real joy in their marriage and while it doesn’t always seem like a pleasure, reading about it sure is.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

J.K. Rowling Will Publish a New Story on Halloween

J.K. Rowling at a charity event at Warner Bros Studios in London in 2013.
J.K. Rowling at a charity event at Warner Bros Studios in London in 2013. Danny E. Martindale--Getty Images

The 'Harry Potter' author has written a new story about Dolores Umbridge, a witch and former Hogwarts professor

Author J.K. Rowling’s website Pottermore.com has announced that the Harry Potter creator has penned a brand new story, which will go live on the site on Oct. 31.

The story will feature Dolores Umbridge, a witch and former Hogwarts professor, who first appeared in the fifth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which was published in 2003. Umbridge was played by actor Imelda Staunton in the film adaptation of the series.

“Umbridge is not only one of the most malicious Potter characters, she is the only person other than Lord Voldemort to leave a permanent physical scar on Harry,” reads the update posted to Pottermore.com on Friday. “The new exclusive J.K. Rowling content provides a rich, 1,700-word back story about Umbridge’s life filled with many new details, as well as Rowling’s revealing first-person thoughts and reflections about the character.”

Earlier this year, Rowling published a story on Pottermore.com featuring a now-grown Harry Potter.

TIME movies

‘Welcome to the Dollhouse’ Is Getting a Sequel, of Sorts

Director Todd Solondz attends the Film Society Of Lincoln Center 2014 Filmmaker In Residence Dinner at Indochine on June 24, 2014 in New York.
Director Todd Solondz attends the Film Society Of Lincoln Center 2014 Filmmaker In Residence Dinner at Indochine on June 24, 2014 in New York. Brad Barket—Getty Images

Director Todd Solondz is making a movie that revisits Dawn Wiener nearly 20 years after his first film was released

Welcome to the Dollhouse has been an indie film favorite since its 1995 release. Telling the story about the unpopular seventh-grader Dawn Wiener, played by Heather Matarazzo, the movie garnered critical raves and launched the career of director Todd Solondz.

Now, nearly 20 years later, Solondz is planning on revisiting her in an upcoming ensemble film called Wiener-Dog. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the new film will feature multiple stories and be thematically connected by a dachshund, with one of the stories focusing on Dawn. Powerhouse producer and TIME 100 alum Megan Ellison has already signed on to produce through her company Annapurna Pictures.

Sadly, THR adds that Matarazzo will not be returning to the role of Dawn, though fans could get a dream cast in the end as Gerta Gerwig and Julie Deply are in talks to star.


TIME royals

Queen Elizabeth II Sends Her First Tweet

Britain’s monarch dabbled in social media on Friday by sending her very first tweet.

While opening the Information Age exhibit at London’s Science Museum, the Queen, referring to herself as Elizabeth R., tapped out her first tweet from the official Twitter account of Buckingham Palace.

A statement from the museum said director Ian Blatchford had invited Queen Elizabeth to mark the occasion on social media. “I mentioned earlier that Queen Victoria took a great interest in the invention of the telephone, and Your Majesty has followed in this tradition of embracing new technology,” he told her. “You made the first live Christmas broadcast in 1957 and an event relished by historians took place on [March 26, 1976], when you became the first monarch to send an email, during a visit to the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment. May I now invite you to join me so that you may send your first tweet.”

The tweet’s author was then verified by the @BritishMonarchy account with a follow-up tweet and a photo of the Queen sending the message.

Read next: See Kate Middleton’s Stunning Fashion Evolution

TIME Television

Fox Is Developing an Archie TV Series

The Riverdale gang is heading to the small screen

Fox is heading to Riverdale. Archie Comics confirmed Thursday that the cable channel is developing a one-hour drama series based on the beloved comic characters.

The series will follow comic favorites Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones, Veronica Lodge, Betty Cooper and Reggie Mantle, along with a newer addition to the Riverdale world: Kevin Keller, a gay character who was introduced in 2010. THR adds that the gang will “explore the surrealistic twists of small-town life, in addition to the darkness and weirdness bubbling beneath [their hometown] Riverdale’s wholesome facade.”

The series, which is being produced by Warner Bros. TV-based Berlanti Productions and The Arrow‘s Greg Berlanti, will be penned by former Glee scribe and current chief creative officer at Archie Comics Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

“This is something we’ve been working on for awhile now, figuring out the best way to bring these characters to life for what will be, essentially, the first time,” Aguirre-Sacasa said in a statement. “The entire team working on Riverdale is as passionate about Archie as Jon [Goldwater, Archie Comics publisher/co-CEO] and I are, so it feels like the stars have finally aligned for Archie and the rest of the gang.”

It seems as though the in-the-works TV series is just the latest in a string of moves keeping the Archie universe current; earlier this year, Aguirre-Sacasa tapped Lena Dunham to write her own Archie storyline for the comic.

TIME Nobel Peace Prize

How the World Reacted to Malala and Kailash Satyarthi Winning the Nobel Peace Prize

Jointly awarded the prize "for their struggle against the suppression of children and for the right of all children to education"

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced on Friday.

Both Satyarthi, a 60-year-old Hindu from India, and Yousafzai, a 17-year-old Muslim from Pakistan, are renowned children’s rights activists. Malala became a household name around the globe when, in October 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin while on her way to school. The young girl had been an outspoken advocate of girls’ education before the shooting. Afterward, she became an international beacon for the cause and was chosen as TIME’s runner-up for Person of the Year in 2012. She was later named one of the world’s 100 Most Influential People. Now, at age 17, she is the youngest-ever Nobel Laureate.

Satyarthi has long been a dedicated campaigner for youth rights in India, focusing particularly on child labor issues. His New Delhi-based organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan — or Save The Children — describes itself as a grassroots movement against child labor, trafficking and slavery. In an interview with CNN, Satyarthi said winning the award is “an honor to all those children who are still suffering in slavery, bonded labor and trafficking.”

The committee’s announcement went on to note:

The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism. Many other individuals and institutions in the international community have also contributed. It has been calculated that there are 168 million child labourers around the world today. In 2000 the figure was 78 million higher. The world has come closer to the goal of eliminating child labour.

The news exploded on social media — particularly Twitter — where everyone from politicians to global organizations to celebrities shared their appreciation, including:

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg

Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

CNN’s Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour

The United Nations

Indian actor Anupam Kher

Academy Awarding-wining Pakistani documentary maker Sharmeen Obaid

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, said of Yousafzai’s win in a statement to AFP: “She is (the) pride of Pakistan. She has made her countrymen proud. Her achievement is unparallelled and unequalled. Girls and boys of the world should take the lead from her struggle and commitment.”

In a statement released early Friday, former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said of the prize, “They are two of my best friends and two of the greatest global campaigners who deserve the Nobel Peace Prize for their courage, determination and for their vision that no child should ever be left behind and that every child should have the best of chances.”

Brown, along with his wife, Sarah, have long been supporters of Yousafzai, who now lives in the U.K. The former Prime Minister, who, in 2012, declared Nov. 10 as ‘Malala Day’ in honor of her and the more than 50 million girls around the world who are unable to get an education, is now the U.N.’s special envoy for global education.

TIME Books

Why You Haven’t Heard of Patrick Modiano, Winner of the Nobel in Literature

A French novelist just won the most prestigious literary prize in the world, but many English-speaking book lovers haven't read him

Once again, the Swedish Academy has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and left many Americans scratching their heads. French novelist Patrick Modiano won this year’s prestigious award, which is not only a serious literary feat, but also a lucrative one, as it comes with a $1.1 million prize.

According to the academy’s Permanent Secretary Peter Englund, Modiano was selected “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies.” The 69-year-old writer made his debut in 1968 with the novel La Place de l’Etoile. Since then, he has gone on to write dozens of books, frequently touching on the Nazi occupation of France, and has drawn comparisons to renowned countryman Marcel Proust.

So why does it seem that so few in the English-speaking world have actually read his work? Though the Swedish Academy has always seemed to swing between wildly popular writers (William Golding, Gabriel García Márquez and Toni Morrison) and those who are more niche (Eyvind Johnson and Harry Martinson), this year’s choice seemed to have confused even the most well-read. Soon after Modiano’s name was announced, much of the literary world — including critics — took to social media in order to ask, essentially, “Who?”

The puzzlement could have to do with the fact that despite Modiano’s prolific output — with more than 30 books and screenplays to his name — less than a dozen of his works have been translated into English, and even several of those are now out of print. Even Englund noted that many people outside of France would likely be unfamiliar with Modiano and his work. “He is well-known in France, but not anywhere else,” he said in an interview on Thursday, before recommending that newcomers should start with the English-translated novel Missing Person.

This is not the first time that the Swedish Academy has left scores of readers in the English-speaking world puzzling over the winner or, perhaps, even privately worrying about their own literary credentials. In 2009, when the Romanian-born German novelist and essayist Herta Müller was awarded the prize, many people were unfamiliar with both her work and her name. Literary critic and Yale professor Harold Bloom told the Washington Post, “[I have] nothing to talk about because I have never heard of this writer” when he was asked to comment on Müller’s win. And, like Modiano, only a fraction of her work had been translated into English, though the New York Times also noted at the time, that “[e]ven in Germany, Ms. Müller is not well known.”

The scene was something of an echo of 2004, when Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek was named the Nobel winner in recognition for her “musical flow of voices and countervoices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power.” Yet many state-side announcements of her win made sure to note her low-profile outside the German-speaking world.

Of course, the Swedish Academy — currently made up of 16 men and women who pick the winner each year — has long been criticised of Eurocentrism in its selection. In 2009, shortly after being named Permanent Secretary, Englund admitted that there was some truth to the accusations, telling the Associated Press, “I think that is a problem. We tend to relate more easily to literature written in Europe and in the European tradition.” He did, however, go on to acknowledge that there were many writers outside of Europe who deserved the award and, since then, winners have included Peruvian-born writer Mario Vargas Llosa (2010), Chinese novelist Mo Yan (2012) and Canadian short-story writer Alice Munro (2013).

But it’s important to keep in mind that while foreign translations from most literary writers can be hard to come by, there really isn’t reason to complain about Nobel winners being inaccessible. After all, the vast majority of winners since the prize’s debut in 1901 had written in English.

What’s more, awarding the honor to little-known writers — at least, from an English-reader’s perspective — can help introduce authors to a wider audience. Shortly after Jelinek won the prize in 2004, the American distributor of her book The Piano Teacher ran out of copies because demand was so unusually high. That was famously one of the goals of the Swedish Academy’s previous Permanent Secretary, Horace Engdahl, who once responded to criticism saying, “The purpose of the prize is to make them famous, not to tap them when they are famous.”

That prospect has already excited fans of Modiano’s in France. Anne Ghisoli, the director of the Parisian bookstore Librairie Gallimard, told the Times she had long been a Modiano fan, “but this prize will help raise the global profile of one of our consummate writers.”

TIME Books

The Baby-Sitters Club Author Reveals the Name of Her Favorite Baby-Sitter

summer book club-Washington DC
The Baby-Sitters Club-The Summer Before " by Ann M. Martin on June 09, 2010 in Washington DC. Mark Gail—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Shockingly, it's not Stacey

Long before women were deciding whether they were a Carrie, Miranda, Samantha or Charlotte, they were young girls deciding whether they were a Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne or Stacey. (Or, later on, a Dawn, Mallory or Jessi.) For many women of a certain age, the best-selling YA series The Baby-Sitters Club was their first introduction to an iconic group of tight-knit girlfriends in pop-culture.

The series, about a diverse group of 13 year-old girls who start their own babysitting business, was created and partially written by, Ann M. Martin, a major YA force throughout the 1980s and ’90s, inspiring several spin-off series, a TV series and a movie. In an interview with Jenn Doll for ELLE about her new book, Rain Reign, Martin reminisced about the famous series, saying, “[M]y favorite thing to hear about are people who grew up reading them, and have gone on to go into writing, become librarians, teachers, authors, editors. I just love hearing about that..”

And, in the true spirit of BSC fandom, Martin even revealed which character she felt was closest to her own personality — and who was her favorite: “My favorite is Kristy, mostly because I created her first. I feel she set the series in motion. Also, she is my alter ego. I’m much more like Mary Anne. Kristy is so unlike me that it was a lot of fun to write her.”

The best part of the interview for nostalgic fans is Martin’s answer to the question of whether she’d ever write a Baby-Sitters Club reunion book: “Who knows? Never say never.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser