Monday, February 27, 2012

JK Rowling's New Book Deal

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Apologies for the delay - for some reason this didn't post as scheduled!

The Guardian book blog's speculation on Friday that JK Rowling's recently announced adult book deal may be a crime novel created a flurry of comments, many of which were (to my surprise) extremely negative. Many of the responders were dismissive of Rowling's work and then there were those who said that they really couldn't give a toss what she was writing now. Really? One of the biggest bestselling authors inks a new deal and people couldn't care less? 

It started me thinking about attitudes towards successful authors which seem to range from:
1. I could have written that drivel (my answer to that is always, well, why didn't you then?!)
2. I'm above reading such 'populist crap'...
3. I would be a bestseller too if only I'd had... (insert appropriate response - opportunity, marketing behind me etc. etc.)

Now, of course the Guardian's opinion is pure speculation only - based on the fact that her editor at Little, Brown is well-known for his crime and thriller writers (the likes of which include Dennis Lehane and Val McDermid) and that Rowling apparently has a penchant for crime writing and Dorothy L. Sayers.  But if the Guardian's suspicions turn out to be true, it will be interesting to watch reactions to Rowling crossing the genre wall into mystery and thriller writing (and what critics and readers alike say about the novel once it comes out). 

If some of the comments on the Guardian book blog are any guide,  Rowling already faces a heady mixture of anticipation (from her fans) and derision (from the naysayers). 

So what would your reaction be if Rowling's first foray into adult fiction (and I mean that in the non-erotic sense) is as a crime writer? Do you share the ambivalence shown by many of the commentators? Given that Rowling has already said her new book will be very different to her Harry Potter series, it seems clear that 
the work is unlikely to be fantasy. Crossing genres is no mean feat - especially for the woman who created the world of Harry Potter - so what do you think of such a decision? 


  1. Just how much money is enough for her?

  2. A long time ago after HP7 was released, JKR stated that she was leisurely exploring a political story. The description sounded more like Animal Farm than anything. Since there are fantasy elements in Animal Farm, I posit there will be fantasy elements in this book so this will not be a genre switch.

  3. I say good for her. We're always hearing about how successful writers are trapped by their success, expected to crank more of the same (but not too same) stuff every year. I applaud Rowling for writing what she wants to write.

    As for anyone saying she can afford to write what she wants, a lot of the "trapped" writers referenced above can afford it, too. They just don't do it.

  4. Most of the Harry Potter books are structured like mysteries so I'm sure she could write a strong mystery novel. I think it's fun when good writers try out other genres. I have no quibbles with it. And I can't wait to read a JK Rowling book targeted toward adults.

  5. I wish JKR the best with her next book, whatever genre it might be. She's proven beyond a doubt that she is a great writer that can target and appeal to an audience. A good book is a good book, no matter who writes it.

  6. Like so many other things in life, I'm adopting a "wait and see" attitude here. I'm hoping she's writing this because she loves the craft. If so, it will show. If not...well, that shows, too.

  7. I was hopeful she had not given up on writing. I would think her hiatus was needed after her writing schedule for HP.

    I'm hopeful it will be an adult mystery. I think she needs to be heard from again, dispite what all the negative people want to say. I've never seen such a wildly successful series of books ever before and I don't know if this will happen again. But she's a writer. A writer WRITES. It isn't about making money, in her case. YOu can either be in awe of her or be jealous. It's obvious which ones are which.

  8. I'm going to wait to see what it's about. If it sounds interesting, I'll absolutely read it. I had no interest at all in the Potter books, but that was my problem, not Rowling's. I remember being in New Orleans on the eve of the release of one of the Potter books, and seeing children and their parents lined up outside a bookstore on the edge of the Quarter, waiting patiently but excitedly for the midnight drop. That's magic. I hope she can do it again with her adult endeavor.

  9. I too hope she can recapture the magic. I think the pressure on her must be enormous. Despite all her fans there will be still those who want to see the sharks circling, hoping she fails. Sad as her success gives all writers hope - she was inspiring before and if she can pull off a great adult book, whether it's a mystery or not, I, for one, will be cheering! Of course, I may be a wee bit biased as I loved the Harry Potter books!

  10. Gyro said - "How much money is enough for her?"

    That has nothing to do with writing another book or series. I'm sure she didn't write HP for the money to begin with. She wrote the first one and people liked it and the money came.

    A foray into a new genre has no real guarantee of success regardless of her previous success with a different type of story. Her publisher may gamble on it, but who knows if it will really be a hit. I hope it is, and that she continues to make great stories.

    That being said CS Lewis wrote dozens of books and other series, before and after Narnia, but only was truly known for the one to any great degree.

    At any rate, best of luck to Mrs Murray.

  11. If a writer wants to write in 10 different genres, I say go for it. Zane Grey is obviously most well known for his westerns, but he also wrote books about baseball and fishing. And why shouldn't he?

    If a writer writes a book in a different genre, that's no different than the risk they took putting their very first book out there for others to see. It's either going to stand the test or it isn't.

    As someone here said--writer's write.

  12. Writers write and kudos to JK for continuing to do so and not sitting back and resting on her laurels.

  13. If money were important to JK Rowling, she would continue to write Harry Potter novels, and publishers would fling cash at her.

    David Shelley, who is going to be her editor, happens to be my acquiring editor at Little, Brown UK. If she picked him (and I'm sure she could have gone with anyone), I wouldn't be surprised if it were because she's writing a thriller. He's a brilliant marketer of crime and thriller novels, and he definitely knows that part of the industry well.

  14. Like Joe, I wish her the best. I think she's well aware that all eyes will be on her & she still is going for it. That's a writer, man. Good for her.

  15. I give it a firm "we'll see." It will be interesting to see if she has anything beyond Harry Potter (although if that was all you had . . . um . . . okay . . . that's enough).

    I hope it is a success. She has a unique storytelling style and it will be interesting to see if it transfers to a non-fantasy genre. I know the fanatics are going to be crushed when it's not a Harry Potter book.

    Writers write and despite the naysayers, all of the stories have not been told yet.

    I won't read it solely because it is JKR. When she crosses the genre boundary, she goes firmly into competition with my established favorites and needs to bring it. The same as if Stephen King suddenly decided he wanted to write Harlequinn romances.

    Pffft . . . on those who want to see her fail. Her talent and influence are huge and a few blog comments won't change that. I'm sure some are already writing their one-star reviews.

    As the cheesy saying goes, "haters gotta hate."


  16. I have been waiting for years to see what Rowling brings to the table next. Despite what so many say about the content of Harry Potter, she played a major role in getting kids to read again (and not just kids!) and brought in a new wave of excitement to the world of YA storytelling for readers and writers alike. She takes her time, she finds what she's passionate about, and she builds an entire world. Whether it's fantasy or suspense, as long as she writes a great story, that's all that matters.

  17. I think it is absolutely wonderful that Ms. Rawlings is persuing her writing career according to her inclinations. Way to go, JK!!

    BTW--I have only read her first Harry Potter . . . oh, and didn't finish it. Not because I didn't like it, I was distracted. I think we were in the middle of a move out of state or something. But, I saw the movies and became as big a fan as the next kid.

    JK Rawlings is a force to admire and respect. I wouldn't be surprised if she WOWs the reading world one more time. I hope she does.

  18. Ain't it the truth. I agree, haters gon' hate.

    For me, the thing I loved the most about HP was how everything suddenly connected in the 7th book. Things all the way back to book 1 were shown in a totally new light, and everything made sense. It was fantastic.

    That's the exact same kind of thing that needs to happen in a murder mystery (or similar). That's what made Agatha Christie so good. She laid everything out perfectly, so it all came together at just the right moment.

    I think she'll rock it.

  19. The story is what is important. Past success does improve the likelihood that an author's next book will also be successful, but all that really matters is the story. If she writes good story then great. If she doesn't, then I'm no more impressed than I would be with anyone else who doesn't write a good story.

  20. In addition to the track record of her new editors (adding to the genre speculation) I would like to point out that every HP novel was not only a great YA fantasy story but, at their hearts, solid mystery stories. Every one. This is a British writer we're talking about! My money's on a mystery series.

  21. I would love to read a crime novel by JK Rowling. The way she planted clues and tied threads together in HP proves she's got the stuff to plot a great mystery. And despite the fact that she's so popular, I believe the woman can actually write. :)

    Plus, as a cross-genre writer myself, I am morally obligated to support the genre-crossing efforts of other writers.

  22. If money were important to JK Rowling, she would continue to write Harry Potter novels, and publishers would fling cash at her.

    David Shelley, who is going to be her editor, happens to be my acquiring editor at Little, Brown UK. If she picked him (and I'm sure she could have gone with anyone), I wouldn't be surprised if it were because she's writing a thriller. He's a brilliant marketer of crime and thriller novels, and he definitely knows that part of the industry well.

  23. I doubt the books will be well received by critis or readers. Harry Potter was a fantastic STORY, but was extremely poorly written, and was full of plot-holes galore.

    EX: Harry's super awesome cloak of true deathly hallow invisibility can be seen through by a run of the mill fake magical eye.

    EX: Salazar Slytherin put the entrance to his secret chamber in a set of pipes, roughly 400 years before there was indoor plumbing.

    I could write a whole nother article on how many contradictions she wrote into those books.

  24. I'm definitely excited about this. I like her writing so I'll give her a chance.