JK Rowling had hoped to keep her secret for a little while longer, but over the weekend, after receiving a tip, The Sunday Times of London reported that Ms. Rowling had written an adult fiction crime novel under a pseudonym. The Cuckoo’s Calling, written under the guise of Robert Galbraith, was published in the United Kingdom back in April by Sphere – the same publisher as her first fiction novel after Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy. Ms. Rowling is quoted as saying “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name”.
The book is set in London and features a private detective named Cormoran Strike who lost a leg while serving in the military in Afghanistan. He is barely making ends meet, he has just broken up with his long time girlfriend and he is living in his office Then a client walks in the door with a story about his supermodel sister who fell to her death. It is ruled a suicide, but the brother doesn’t believe it. Strike wades into a world of multi-millionares, rock stars and designers to try to find answers about her death. The book received a rave review in Publishers Weekly when it was released and called it a “stellar debut”.
Before the news broke of who the author really was, the book had only sold 1,500 copies. Sales at Amazon have since soared 150,000% and is now number 1.
For the Harry Potter books, Ms. Rowling used her initials JK as her official published name because she was told books written by men sold better. With this new book, she was able to create a male persona and a fictional biography was supplied by the publisher. It states: ” 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.”
Rowling plans to continue writing the series with the next book due out next summer.
The Cuckoo’s Calling is available at the Cheshire Library.
7/18/13 UPDATE – Today it was revealed that a partner at the British law firm, Russells, inadvertently revealed the information. Chris Gossage let the information slip to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari and she tweeted it. Her Twitter account has since been deleted. Russells said in a statement that “we apologize unreservedly” to Rowling. While Gossage is culpable, “the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly”.
Ms Rowling said: “To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm, and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”