Write What You Know (Will Sell): J.K. Rowling Returning to Kid’s Books

The Casual Vacancy debuted at the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list (50 Shades had already been displaced two weeks earlier by Lee Child’s A Wanted Man and again the next week by Ken Follett’s Winter of the World), but the reviews have been less than stellar and many booksellers are reporting a surprising lack of interest in Rowling’s first foray into adult literature.

Moreover, despite the fact that Rowling is over 40 and many of her original Potter readers are over 20, there was a certain amount of scandal surrounding the kind of dirty language she employed, with The Telegraph giving us a run-down of the number of times she used particularly dirty or shocking words like “heroin” or “shag” or “bloody.” She also depicted scenes of a sexual nature, which caused many people who hadn’t read the book to cry the usual refrain of “think of the children!” even though many original Potter readers now have children of their own and can likely handle the occasional mention of a nipple or vagina.

So, all the above factors considered, Rowling’s recent announcement that her next book would be for children was read by many as an admission of defeat. Unable to make it as an adult author, she’s crawling her way back to kid’s lit in an attempt to stay popular. Because it would be impossible that maybe she just enjoys the freedom of being able to write what she wants, and likes to experiment with different genres.

My own review of The Casual Vacancy should be up soon(ish). I may do it chapter by chapter (or part by part), since the Kindle is still on the fritz and I’m having to work with the actual paper tome which I had to drive to a book store to buy. Chilling. But I’ll let you know if I needed to clutch my pearls or fetch my fainting salts at the first mention of casual drug use or adults having sex.

8 thoughts on “Write What You Know (Will Sell): J.K. Rowling Returning to Kid’s Books

  1. That’s true. I’m sure it’s something she considered, but since she went with a different publisher, I imagine they didn’t want to risk losing sales. And without her name attached, there wasn’t much else to recommend this book.

  2. I’d be one to say that the Rowling can write Hamlet 3: Live Free or Die Hard if that’s what she feels like doing. As mentioned above, her financial obligations may have mostly vanished at this point and tepid Rowling adult novels will still sell, though not like gangbusters.

    But maybe her legacy is at stake. If E.L. James overtook me in all-time sales, I’d be back in that chair writing about wizard kids faster than you can say abra-frickin’-cadabra.

    • Ha. Good point — I hadn’t thought about it in terms of competition. But yeah, the fact remains that Rowling can do pretty much whatever she wants at this stage and owes nothing to anyone.

      I was hoping that Casual Vacancy would be more of a light “whodunnit,” rather than American Beauty in the British boonies, but I’m not hating it so far.

  3. I feel for J.K. Rowling. It must be tough to have such high expectations. Honestly, I don’t think that any book she wrote after Harry Potter would have been well received simply because it was her first Post-Potter book.

    • What I find strange is less that people are bashing it for quality, but more that there’s this “Well, this isn’t appropriate for children!” reaction. Of course it isn’t — it’s always been specifically labelled an adult book for adults.

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