So word is out: J.K. Rowling published a crime novel as "debut" author Robert Galbraith. That's super exciting! The moment I heard, I immediately told everyone I know via text messages, Facebook, Twitter. You know, grabbed my megaphone and shouted it from the rooftops.
And then I had a conversation with my mother.
Mom: I feel badly for [J.K. Rowling] though. I just finished a novel about a writer who published a famous book and was sick of all the attention so switched to writing sci-fi under a pen name so she would have privacy and then her cover got blown. (Note: It's Certain Girls, by Jennifer Weiner).
Me: She can come up with a new pen name?
Mom: But she may have really enjoyed what she was writing and now has to switch characters.
Me: Yeah. But she's J.K. Rowling. Everyone in the world wants to be her.
Mom: I'm just saying. The author character in my book was very bummed.
Way to go, Mom. Now I feel terrible.
But it got me thinking. There's a reason J.K. Rowling wrote under a pen name: to dodge hype, expectations, fans waiting in Barnes & Noble for the midnight release. She wanted honest reviews, a book that people would read without comparing it to Harry Potter. It must get pretty frustrating for her to hear all the time, "It's good, but--"
I mean, just take a look at the reviews for A Casual Vacancy. It's hard to find one that doesn't mention Harry Potter.
Will I read The Cuckoo's Calling now that I know it's written by her? You bet. But I do feel bad for J.K. Rowling. Now her words are back under a million magnifying glasses, each one looking for nargles and crumple-horned snorkacks.