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Sunday, February 26, 2012

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? 


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