Bill on Books: Genre change for J.K. Rowling is a big success

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The story of how J K Rowling came to write her first book, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, is almost part of literary legend.

It was on a delayed train journey from Manchester to London in 1990 that she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series.

The first novel wasn’t finished until 1997, but within five years she progressed from living on state benefits to multi-millionaire status.

Little did she know that the series would become a phenomenal success and, I suspect, she had no idea that the success of Harry Potter would be followed up with a series of detective novels, which could be just as popular.

After Harry Potter, her next novel was “The Casual Vacancy.”

It’s about a parish council election in a small West Country town. This was her first novel for the adult market.

It was described by one critic as “a solid, traditional and determinedly unadventurous English novel.”

Another Harry Potter it ain’t, containing as it does, references to drugs and sex and there’s plenty of swearing too. It has already been translated into 44 languages and will apparently be a BBC TV drama series coming to the small screen later this year.

Now J. K. Rowling’s first novel in a planned series of crime dramas is nudging the number 1 spot in the top bestselling paperback fiction chart.

It’s called “The Cuckoo’s Calling” and is published under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. In it a supermodel’s fall to her death is ruled a suicide by police.

The model’s brother refuses to accept this and calls on the unlikely named private detective Cormoran Strike to help.

Rowling was intending that the real identity of ‘Robert Galbraith’ would not be revealed, but the novelist was ‘outed’ after a partner at her firm of solicitors told his wife’s best friend and this led to the true identity of Galbraith being revealed by the Sunday Times. Rowling was reported to be furious.

She sued and received an apology and costs, which were donated to the Soldier’s Charity. Royalties from the novel will also be donated to the charity. As soon as the true identity of the author was revealed, “The Cuckoo’s Calling” shot straight to the top of the bestseller lists.

Now a second novel in the detective series is due out in June. Cormoran Strike and his ‘determined young assistant’, Robin Ellacott, will be investigating the murder of a novelist who wrote poison pen portraits of nearly everyone he knows. It’s called “The Silkworm” and is due out in June.

Thank you, Joan

I must congratulate Joan Vardy, or to use her married name Joan Parker of Sutton, on the first part of her autobiography entitled “A Green Hill far Away”, which she launched last November (as reported in the Chad).

Joan was born with limited sight, being only able to see light and shade and strong colours, so imagine the difficulties she faced as a very young child.

Joan has a wonderful memory of her experiences during her very early years, growing up in Sutton.

It’s a fascinating and poignant read – available online from, or from the publisher,