7.15.2013

Nom de guerre

New author, Robert Galbraith
Not only are writers among the few people who can achieve immortality (Homer is still going strong), but I think they're among the few people who can also have multiple lives. For a while, J.K. Rowling was actually two people--until someone worked out that a book released earlier this year was actually Rowling writing under a pseudonym ("J.K. Rowling's Book Ruse is a Cautionary Tale for Unknown Writers," by Joan Smith). The book, The Cuckoo's Calling, was doing pretty well for a book by an unknown author. It hit the bestseller list about a microsecond after the pseudonym was revealed.

There's been some negative press about the book (note the linked article above), but I think using a pseudonym was a great idea for Rowling. Harry Potter was such a magical and utterly original series and readers bonded to the books so strongly that anything else Rowling writes would be held to an impossible standard. After all, how many reviews of The Casual Vacancy had comments wondering when the characters would get their letters from Hogwarts or which character was Voldemort in disguise or something like that. I think a lot of people were obscurely disappointed in The Casual Vacancy because they were expecting something that would capture their hearts the way Harry Potter did.

I've thought for a long time that Rowling was going to have to write under another name just to get her books judged for their own sake. The problem is that doing so would pretty much mean starting over near the bottom of the totem pole, which of course isn't fair to a writer as talented as she is.

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