J.K. Rowling’s New Book: Specifically for Adults
Recently it was announced that J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame would be releasing a new novel soon, not for the Young Adult crowd like her previous works, but for adults through her new publisher, Little, Brown and Company. At first glance this raises a whole host of questions for J.K. Rowling. Does she have to get an entirely new audience since her new endeavour will entail finding an entirely new demographic that is not within the tween arena of fiction? And can she make the switch from a young adult/fantasy style to a more sophisticated, commercial adult fiction style? The answer to both of these questions is an unequivocal, yes, with a caution at the end.
Technically speaking, J.K. Rowling is a master when it comes to writing plot and tension. Many aspiring writers get so bogged down with the overwhelming dilemma of having to follow a plot skeleton that many of them get tripped up, caught in the vines, and then exhausted from having to get up and down the ladder of failure so many times that they simply give up before ever having published something. If you’re an aspiring novelist you know that the criteria for getting published now in the 21st century by the big boys comes down to these three important elements: 1.) is your novel a potential best seller? 2.) is your literary fiction novel of such high quality that it will no doubt become renown simply by its intellectual beauty and its sheer mastery of the English language? 3.) and lastly, is the celebrity name attached to this novel sufficient enough to get a bunch of lemmings to buy it even though it was physically written by a ghost writer and not by the so-called author them self? Well, J.K. Rowling not only does not have to worry about any of these elements, they are almost all in her favour.
Technical superiority aside, J.K. Rowling can write. Take out the hokey supernatural of Harry Potter, and the age of the main characters, and you’ll find that her descriptive language is better than most novelists who write adult fiction nowadays. If you don’t believe so, go and read three pages of Dan Brown or John Grisham and then read three pages of Rowling. There is no comparison. Rowling writes in colour while other successful writers like Brown and Grisham write with vanilla crayons—and they are not even sharp vanilla crayons at that! Also, Rowling is a master at developing relationships in her books. And she knows how to measure that added ingredient of good versus evil. All of this is great fuel for creating tension. No doubt she can do it. I think it will all come down to subject matter and whether she knows that subject matter or whether she chooses to take something on that she knows nothing about. Don’t get me wrong. She isn’t ever going to be a Cormac McCarthy, Jhumpa Lahiri, or a Phillip Roth. But that isn’t her shtick. Can she write a great plot with a beautiful narrative and interesting characters? Absolutely, she can.
One of the main things going in her favour is that if she comes out with a really great novel she has a generation of young adults who grew up reading her books as a built in audience. Sure, many of them will automatically reject the idea that J.K. Rowling can write a great novel for adults, but let’s face it. Even if 50 percent of the young people who grew up with her work give her new adult novel a shot, she will still be more successful than most novelists could ever hope to be. There is a lot of risk involved. But to be a truly great writer you have to risk yourself over and over again to try and be great. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with. Something tells me that it is either going to be a really great book or a huge plop in the toilet; and nobody likes that! But that is what all writing should be about. Either taking risk or sitting on your hands and risking nothing. I’ll take risk every time. Hopefully, there will be some risk in J.K. Rowling’s new endeavour. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Enclosing I leave you with my poem, The Risk of Absurdity, from my latest collection of poetry, The Protocols of Torture.
The Risk of Absurdity
Tattooed and pierced,
come dance atop the waterfires,
orange glow of the sparkling comics,
all shambled and wild-haired,
mad scientists, mad poets,
all the un-interesting things of the seven other elements,
an uncommon girl, her mouth tender like cinnamon,
go currents, shoulder to shoulder,
the truth no religion at all,
life with all its untraceable tracks,
God everywhere you look,
incredibly mad to live! frantic as hell to live!
you must race to it all to even live,
make those bombs fade away,
telephone wire to telephone wire,
anamorphic dream, sending birds askew
with microchips to fly from Mexico
two blushing suns in the simmering blue waves,
in the waves of anxious music,
footsteps atop rigorous black hands,
the CIA, the Creation of Adam,
fuming in iron, magnesia, and sulfur,
in the allies, panic-stricken at times:
in dreams, in stars; life just like that,
offering nothing but confusion,
but you must embrace it; look for it in others;
see the curve of the earth in rear view mirrors,
atop the cotton-candy fog of the autumn valleys,
up there it lives in the wood smoke of the old world chimneys,
in the books under the blue starry library roofs,
you’re not alive without this sensation of death in it,
with every aching sinew, aching of loss,
desirous of everything that is commonplace
to man, being in love when it is as effortless
as dying and waking, in the haunting loneliness
of evening, where you will do it all your life,
where in this suffering twilight you will realize
that you are crazy enough to think you can change
things, change things in this great, wobbling, stabbing
dream we all call our tumultuous world.
Jéanpaul Ferro is the author of Jazz – out now.
Tags: Cormac McCarthy, Dan Brown, Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling, Jhumpa Lahiri, John Grisham, Little Brown and Company, Phillip Roth