J.K. Rowling Pens Mystery Novel Under Pseudonym

J.K. Rowling is Robert Galbraith

You’ve written a monster blockbuster series that’s sold millions of books, they’ve all been made into movies and you’re now fabulously wealthy. What do you do next? Well, the answer for J.K. Rowling, author of the seven Harry Potter… books, was to write a book under a pseudonym. Just to see how it would do.

Turns out, it didn’t do too badly and got some rave reviews from critics. The Cuckoo’s Calling was published in April under the name ‘Robert Galbraith’, an ex-military type who wrote a book about an ex-military type “turned private investigator” called Cormoran Strike. This is the bio from publishers Little Brown:

Born in 1968, Robert Galbraith is married with two sons. After several years with the Royal Military Police, he was attached to the SIB (Special Investigation Branch), the plain-clothes branch of the RMP. He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry. The idea for protagonist Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who have returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.

The story broke yesterday in The Sunday Times after the novel was thought to be “a bit too accomplished for a debut novel”, which spurred them to investigate where it had come from. Apparently Rowling wasn’t quite ready to tell people about it, either.

"I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience," she said. "It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name."

It hasn’t hurt the book’s sales any, moving it from 4,709 on Amazon’s bestseller list to number 1 – and selling out — after the news broke. I can’t say I blame her for using a different name, particularly after the reception for her last non-Harry Potter book, The Casual Vacancy. Is it going to hurt the series (another Cormoran Strike book’s coming out next year)? I doubt it. Will it get lots of sales on the basis she wrote it? I’d say so, if Casual Vacancy is anything to judge by.

Dean Fetzer

News by Dean Fetzer

Dean Fetzer is originally from a small town in eastern Colorado, but has lived in London, England, for the past 21 years. After a career in graphic design, he started a pub review website in the late 90’s; He left that in 2011 to concentrate on his thriller writing, as well as offering publishing services for authors, poets and artists. When not writing - or in the pub - he can be found in the theatre, live music venues and travelling.

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Nathan Scalia's picture
Nathan Scalia from Kansas is reading so many things July 15, 2013 - 7:51am

I have the opposite problem. Maybe I should start writing under the name Mark Twain, and then eventually reveal that I'm just Nathan Scalia later on.

Stephanie Bonjack's picture
Stephanie Bonjack from Boulder, CO is reading Portuguese Irregular Verbs by Alexander McCall Smith July 15, 2013 - 3:25pm

I just finished reading The Casual Vacancy, and loved it! I'm happy to see that this amazing author is continuing to push herself into new creative territory even after her major Harry Potter successes.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts July 15, 2013 - 3:48pm

I'm really interested in checking the book out. I loved the Harry Potter books and now she's writing in my preferred genre, so I think I'll be enjoying it. Author pseudonyms are a time-honored tradition and I think she had just the right reasons to try it out here, and I dig the ridiculous OTT author bio.

SammyB's picture
SammyB from Las Vegas is reading currently too many to list July 15, 2013 - 4:20pm

I don't blame her for doing this. People hold her to impossible standards, mostly the "this isn't Harry Potter" sort. The Casual Vacancy was a good book, but it was a difficult read because the subject is one that most people avoid talking about, at all cost, in real life. Her mysteries within the HP books were always wonderfully written. She is very good at weaving tiny details together, quietly leaving clues, and managing to make the outcome intriguing. This seems like it will be a good fit, and I have a soft spot for mystery books. I'm planning to purchase this one soon, but first I have to do some reading for the AP Lit syllabus I have to teach next year.