Poor J.K. Rowling – she has developed “cancer of the pseudonym”


With a set of D-Cells this book can ease that shoulder pain, too (Photo from The Telegraph)

J.K. Rowling has been called out for adopting a nom de plume, and Robert Galbraith lies dying in some musty old mental attic;all his military policeman skills unable to save him from peering, destructive eyes . I am certain Rowling suffers the arrows of humiliation and is probably half a step away from the poor house right now. And all because she wanted to create with anonymity. 

Rowling is an author who needs no explanation as the creator and writer of the Harry Potter series of books but one I feel compelled to slap in here because almost 25 years of news writing dictates it. Even if spacemen from another dimension come to observe Earth are reading this, Rowling’s Harry Potter is probably one of the most popular works of youth fiction since at least the Flashman series. Well, maybe even more popular than Flashman. 

And it is not a new experience for Rowling, as she was forced to use “J.K.” on the first Harry Potter book because her publisher thought nobody would buy a fantasy-action book written by a woman. 

I admit it is slightly hard for me to mourn the death of Robert Galbraith, since I never knew him and now it turns out he is as real as a gorp or gort or spell or whatever Harry would throw about the room. I never read one of those books, but I am a big fan of anything that gets young people reading and that is one thing Rowling can do – get people reading.

Rowling suffered from what vastly talented people are sometimes blighted with – too much creativity. She was so adept at crafting a world people desire to be absorbed in that nobody thought she could do anything else. 

Rowling penned “The Casual Vacancy” and it was released in September 2012. It was a relief for her to write adult fiction. The book sold because of her name. Many plonked it down on that table or shelf we reserve for “I am going to read that later.” … and then the dust starts gathering on the tome. 

A number of reviewers didn’t like it, but many critics had been waiting a decade and a half for a few shots at Rowling because how could they blast Harry Potter all those years? Come on. It is a book for children. Plus there might be magic spells and potions that keep you limp in the sack or something. 

By 2012, Rowling had become something like Paul McCartney or John Lennon or any talent that people just want the same thing from. Like Ricky Nelson told us in Garden Party she might as well go drive a truck. 

Don’t mention James Bond to Sean Connery (I know, I know you are likely to run into Sir Sean at the Target today, but still don’t bring up 007). Apparently he was so typecast in the 1960s by the ultimate fiction of Britain’s hero secret agent that Connery would fly into a wild drinking rage whenever the subject was brought up by friend or bystander. 

Stephen King was pretty much The Beatles’ of late 1970s and 1980s fantasy horror fiction. King was so hemmed in by his early works like “Carrie” and “The Shining” that, in addition to actually wanting somebody dumping a bucket of blood on him, King started writing under the name “Richard Bachman.” 

In the days when the Internet was still run by The Pentagon, lack of information guaranteed anonymity for artists, King kept Bachman churning out delightful trash for about eight years. Then one day in 1985 a man from the newspaper came calling and the Bachman jig was up. King proclaimed Bachman dead “from a cancer of the pseudonym” and went back to just being Stephen King – a man so awkward he had to become famous just to get a date. 

Looking at the Rowling’s Galbraith experiment, it seems she again has crafted a novel that entertains. This time is was one nobody wanted to buy. It was branded as being well written from those who wield that sort of iron, but “The Cuckoo’s Calling” has only sold 1,500 copies in the UK where it was released. (I would go for a different title – some Ludlum zinger like “The Crowing Cuckoo Directive,” That might jazz up sales. 

By sundown today, I venture to guess that “The Cuckoo’s Calling” sales numbers will have risen, and it will soon be available around the world. I want to get my copy …. I have a shelf that needs propping up. 


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 responses to “Poor J.K. Rowling – she has developed “cancer of the pseudonym””

  1. Amy Lee says :

    What makes you believe that J.K. Rowling is not a pen name? I used many over the years.

    • sgspires68 says :

      J.K Rowling is the author’s real name. Her “pen name” was Robert Galbraith for this book. Although, she uses her initials because when here first Harry Potter novel was printed her editors thought she should hide the fact she was a woman.

      • Amy Lee says :

        Because you read it in an article or she makes the claim? There are not many left in the entertainment industry who do not use a pen name or pseudonym. I’ve used Robert Butler, Alexander Nevermind, RedOne, and many others.

      • sgspires68 says :

        Amy Lee,
        I have been following Joanne Rowling’s career since about 1998. I know J.K. Rowling could be considered a pen name – that is a slight stretch – because of her using the initials at the direction of her first set of editors.
        It is more than just one article. Yes, I suppose her real name could be Felicity Ashley Hogsworth or something, but since Joanne Rowling seems to be good enough for an Order of the British Empire title, and since nobody has outed her in this information age we live, I think I will take J.K. Rowling as her real name.
        Robert Galbraith however is entirely a made up name for her work, and more than anything – and I probably didn’t get this across with all the jaunty words above – I think it is rotten she should feel the need to use one. However, I can also see the reader who would pick up “The Cuckoo’s Calling” and totally not read two pages deep into it without a man’s name on the front page.
        Perhaps that was her point all along?

      • Amy Lee says :

        It’s funny she named it “The Cuckoo’s Calling” considering I wrote the song Koo Koo recorded by the artist I gave the stage name Sheila E.

        Well, I for one have always taken what comes out of the press from the entertainment industry with a grain of salt even before I started working on script ideas for films, books, television shows…including Harry Potter.

  2. Siobhan says :

    They’re actually pretty decent sales for a hardback only “debut” by an “unknown”.

    • sgspires68 says :

      I take your word for it Siobhan. Seriously, I know about the news end of print media, but not much about the book end of the “word for food” business.. All I know is that I figured out pretty early on from reading “Publisher’s Weekly” that authoring books puts a person in the “Many are called … few are chosen” category.
      I think people wanted to stack Galbraith versus Rowling, and, of course, 1,500 is no where near 10 million copies. Of course, today, it has shot out the roof – because the critics say the book is decent and it was written by everybody’s favorite school of spells author, J.K. Rowling.
      That fascinates me. The book wasn’t doing as well. She probably bored of her experiment and then went along with the revelation. All conjecture on my part, but I can see it happening in a “Well, I did put some time and effort into this book – everybody knows – why not makes some money for the” publishing title or whomever.
      I like J.K. Rowling. I like what she did with Harry Potter. When there is something that gets 10 year olds who can barely tear themselves away from their games and (today) telephones to read a book, that puts a smile on my face. But Rowling went one step further – she got the little kids interested AND their older relatives and parents. That’s great. I love anything that gets people reading.
      I hope Galbraith/Rowling make a mint on the sequel to “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” which is planned for a 2014 release.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: