SECRETS AND LIES

The publishing world was rocked recently with the news that the super famous, super successful and super rich  J.K. Rowling had actually written a book that no one knew about. The book, THE CUCKOO’S CALLING, had been published in the spring and had gotten wonderful reviews. But it was not even close to being a blockbuster, it barely made a ripple in the sea of publishing. She did write the book, but she wrote it using another name—Robert Galbraith.

When I heard this news I was shocked and thrilled. I love that she did this and I feel bad that she could not have fooled us for a little longer. Apparently, she wanted to keep this a secret, as she had plans to write a second book as Galbraith. There was no grand plan to reveal the author behind the curtain, Rowling wanted to get no publicity for this new series of books, as J.K. Rowling, she wanted Robert Galbraith to get the credit.

Just imagine that you are J.K. Rowling. After the first Harry Potter book came out, readers were pumped up and ready for the next one and the next one. She then had to deliver the goods. I have no idea how she deals with pressure, but I can believe that she must have felt some pressure to be as good as her last book OR be even better. She had rabid fans who devoured her books and were literally turning the last page and already waiting for the next book. To her credit, she delivered again and again. Not only were the Harry Potter books financially successful, the critics praised them and most importantly, her readers loved them. And then she was done with the series. People did not know what she would write next or if she would ever write again. She is one of the wealthiest people on the planet. She does not need to work for the rest of her life. She could buy an island and have little umbrellas in her drinks…forever.

But she did write again. This time, an adult novel called THE CASUAL VACANCY and it did very well. The critics gave her generally good reviews. Some loved it and some did not loooove it, but liked it. Personally, I really liked it a lot and enjoyed reading it. I really like her as a writer. But more than anything, I admire the fact that she wrote this book, that she wanted to challenge herself as a writer. She was saying to us “I have more stories to tell”.

Some people may think that Rowling planned this big reveal, that it was a publicity stunt to sell more books. I don’t think so.  She has voiced her displeasure at how the news got leaked, as she trusted her law firm, and why not? She said that only a few people in her life knew that she had written THE CUCKOO’S CALLING, and most of her friends and family were quite stunned to hear this news.

Can you just imagine the freedom she must have felt to write this book? It must have been very liberating for her to write an adult mystery and not worry about comparisons to Harry Potter. Here was this massively successful writer who had a new book come out and it was NOT a bestseller. Here was this critically acclaimed novel that did not make big news and Rowling was okay with that. Because she knew that Robert Galbraith had more stories to write and maybe the fan base would grow. And maybe, just maybe, she would grow as a writer. But it is no surprise to hear that since the news broke, the book sales are through the roof. What does this say about really good writers who are not household names? Robert Galbraith is a mystery writer that got good reviews, but low sales. Along comes Rowling’s name, and now the book sells like crazy. It is all about the name.

I am happy that Rowling is still writing and that she will continue to give us more stories. But I really do wish that she could have kept this secret for a little longer, it would have given her this rare chance to be a nobody. When you have been famous like she has, there is something to be said about not being recognized. Rowling has dealt with pressure before and done very well, so I am not worried about her talents being blocked by this controversy. I just can understand how much fun it must have been for her, temporarily, to not be the creator of Harry Potter. For a few moments, she was this new writer who wanted his first break in the publishing world. And boy, did he get it. By the way, Robert Galbraith has a website and Rowling answers many questions about him, the book and why she did what she did. Some interesting facts are revealed, like the reason why she chose that name and that there are copies of THE CUCKOO’S CALLING that are signed by the author. Just think about that for a second.

Recommended viewing: Netflx has come out with some excellent original dramas. I really loved their version of House of Cards (the first one was British) starring Kevin Spacey. The first season is now on dvd. And now there is a fabulous new series called Orange Is The New Black and I urge you to check it out. This series is compelling and very funny.

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