Tag Archives: jk rowling

What’s in a name?

Candice:  So it seems JK Rowling wasn’t just happy to publish a book that was different to Harry Potter, under her own name, just to see how that went.  She wanted to add more money to here ever growing coffers by publishing one under a pseudonym.

JK was outed by the Sunday Times, apparently a few weeks before originally planned, as the writer of a new crime fiction novel. ‘ The Cuckoo’s Calling’ was published a few months ago with no real fanfare, and sold 1500 copies before its famous author was discovered.  To quote the conversations on twitter – this is how it is in the real world, books are published all the time but without a big plug they never really come to light.  It seems shops have been struggling to keep up with demand since the announcement, as they had only bought one or two copies.

So what’s the big deal about keeping the name a secret?  I suppose part of it is the back lash that happened after A Casual Vacancy came out.  Not my favourite book by any means, I think that was the general feeling of book critics too.  However was that influenced by the name of the author or the quality of the story, its hard to tell when you are so famous.  British critics are famously good at bringing people up and then, when they peak, knocking them back down again.  So, when you have got to where JK has, how to do you get genuine feedback on what you have written?

I suppose it is like being a celeb.  Famous people, like Michael Jackson for example, surround themselves with ‘YES’ people, and therefore they can do no wrong.  But, these people don’t tell them that the plastic surgery looks crap, they are spending too much money, or that the new record sounds just like the last one.  The more famous you get, the harder it is to get true feedback.  So, this is a chance to step back into the guise of an unknown, of course with pots of cash and an agent on tap, to test out what it feels like.

So, when I get rich and famous from the KOD series, who’s going to keep me in check?  Well, its Phil of course, and if not my Sister, who will have no problem telling me to get off my high horse.

We all need some critical appraisal some times, some of us more than others especially in  a world we can broadcast our every thought to everyone  (take note all those people who have verbal diarrhea on facebook) but we are all too frightened to be critical of others.  Perhaps it would be good to hear the corridor conversation slagging you off, it might help put things in perspective.

1 Comment

Filed under Candice, Writing

Every vow you break by Julia Crouch

51KiNSKvUEL__SL500_AA300_

Candice:  Phil and I always like to do some research on the people we are going to interview so a few weeks ago I bought Cuckoo and Every vow you break by Julia Crouch.  He got Cuckoo, I got Every Vow.

Getting together a week later I asked how he was getting on with the book,  “I dont really like it, I have to admit.”  I was surprised as I was really enjoying mine, but wondered if it was a girl/boy thing.

Every Vow is about a family who have moved to Upstate New York for a summer as the father is an actor in a play.  Bringing with them two teenagers, a small child and the memories of an unwanted baby just recently terminated, the message at the start is this family is not in a good way.  The house they are to stay in is dirty, the father Marcus is only interested in his career, leaving his wife Lara to pick up the pieces, entertain the children and try and find something to do in a town that is more of a ghost town.

Lara stumbles on a secret, Stephen, the once love of her life and now Hollywood actor, is holed up in the town to escape a stalker.  No one is supposed to know where he is so she and her brood spend their days in his amazing home, while Marcus gets further and further away in the pursuit of his dwindling acting career.

The story twists and turns as things start to happen to the family: clothes get taken from the laundrette, they find out the house they are staying in has a dark secret and Lara begins to pull away from her husband.

I wont give away the ending but I thought it was clever and obvious but not obvious.

To book tackles some hard topics: abortion, the realisation that you may have married the wrong man, murder and even incest.  Though that last item is only touched on as it means that Olly, the teenage son, is in the right place at the right time to protect his twin sister, Bella, I would have like to have seen it explored more as I think its unfair poor Bella has to hide that horrible secret.

Having now read Cuckoo, I can see what Phil means.  Though in the same style, Cuckoo is a harder book to read as the characters are all unlikeable.  In Every Vow I wanted Lara to get out of this stuffy marriage and her situation, where as in Cuckoo I couldnt understand why the main female character would put up with an overbearing husband and controlling friend.  I can also see why they might be more ‘female’ books as both protagonists are very led by their children (something neither he not I understand) and particularly in Cuckoo the baby seems to be the centre of the universe.

Cuckoo was Julia’s first book, Every Vow her second.  Perhaps this is showing how her writing has developed from book 1 to 2 as she has made the characters more rounded and put a bit of heart into book 2.

Though we are well on our way to getting the Novel back out there, and would like to think its a well written piece, I think this is the case with all writers.  The more you write, the more developed your style becomes.  Just thinking back to the Harry Potter books, the first two or three are slim, more child friendly novels, and then they get more heavily plotted and thicker as JK’s style develops.

By the time we get to book seven it will be Booker prize winning….. or just a really good holiday read!

 

1 Comment

Filed under Writing

Is The Casual Vacancy beyond criticism ?

A Casual VacancyPhil: Today sees the publication of JK Rowling’s first post-Harry Potter book, The Casual Vacancy.

According to a recent interview, Rowling is in the happiest place for any author. She can write what she likes and not worry if it’s any good. That’s what making a billion from boy wizardry does for you. She also knows the work will be published and people will buy it. They will buy it by the bucket-load and some will like it and others hate it.

Rowling claims not to be to worried by this and I think I believe her.

When team nolanparker take criticism for our work we know it’s not personal. The comments are made in a vacuum. We arrive with no baggage. This has good and bad sides. On one hand we are judged purely on the quality of our output. The critic wouldn’t know us if we ran up to them in the street and slapped them across the chops with a wet haddock.

Unfortunately, not knowing us means we don’t come with a track record that will give us a free pass with any niggles in our story. Rowling could have cut’n’pasted a book full of Lorem Ipsum into the manuscript and the publisher would print it. To be honest, they know this is such a sure-fire seller that they probably didn’t bother reading it before giving production the green light. Lots of celebs get the same deal.

What Rowling doesn’t get is criticism free from baggage. There are plenty of hacks who wrote their review of this book weeks ago. They hate it, yet they have no more read a copy than the people rioting in the Middle East have seen the film that offends them so much. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the text, people like to read bad reviews in the newspaper and the literary desk doesn’t get the chance of a big sales boosting story very often. This book could be as great as Shakespeare, in fact it probably has a better storyline than most of his stuff, the literary critics won’t like it. And when you know this, you can’t take much notice of what they write.

Another point it, this won’t be “Great Literature”, it will be readable and (from the reports of those who have read it) good fun. Going back to Billy S from Stratford, his plays were popular in their time. Being adopted by the great and good is a relatively new proposition. Once upon a time, those who love him would have considered the work beneath contempt because the plebs liked it and the words weren’t in Latin.

I hope The Casual Vacancy is good. I’ll probably buy a copy myself, when I find it second-hand, as the synopsis sounds interesting. To be honest though, I think its very existence is A Good Thing since it shows the most succesful author ever really does write for the right reasons, because she loves to do it and has a story to tell.

Update: The BBC has summarised the reviews. Looks like I wasn’t far wrong. The things I hadn’t counted on were the political views of the newspapers concerned – this is a book about class and social mobility or the lack of it. Also the general ItsNotHarryPotterWhyIsntItHarryPotterIWantMoreHarryPotter from anyone who uses the word “Muggles” in a review.

4 Comments

Filed under Phil, Publishing