We're just a month out from the publication of J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults, The Casual Vacancy, on September 27. Little, Brown has been keeping details about the novel, other than the official description, top secret—sources say that only a select few have had time with the embargoed manuscript, and all cell phones and recording devices must be left outside the door.
That's not unusual for a big title (although it's less common for fiction), but the lack of pre-pub hype from the publisher is. As USA Today reports, there's been little to no push on this one—no promo materials, no midnight release parties—and stores are having a hard time figuring out how to get the word out, or what to tell their customers when asked about the book. The head buyer at R.J. Julia Booksellers is quoted as saying, "We had no posters … It hasn't been easy. People are curious, but they don't know what to expect."
The article goes on to say that the lack of a dramatic publicity onslaught is likely due to Rowling's own wishes, since rumor has it the world's best-selling author would prefer that her first adult novel stand on its own merit and not on her reputation. But a successful transition to adult fiction after becoming known as a YA author is a tricky one. Other YA authors who've made the jump in the last few years include Sara Shepard (Pretty Little Liars series), who released her first adult novel last year to little fanfare, and Ann Brashares, whose 2010 adult time-travel romance was the first in what looks like a stillborn series.
But perhaps the best comparison for a writer like Rowling is Stephenie Meyer, who moved to adult fiction after publishing the Twilight series. Her sci-fi novel The Host wasn't a big jump from the teen fantasy she is known for, yet it still sold just 2 million copies in hardcover (yes, an impressive figure, but the fourth Twilight novel, by comparison, sold 1.3 million copies on its first day of sale!). She has yet to publish the promised sequel, although perhaps that will be announced when the film version of The Host is released in March 2013.
The Casual Vacancy couldn't sound more different from the Harry Potter series, and although some people are sure to buy based on the Rowling name, its level of success will depend on the word-of-mouth response from readers. Stay tuned for our review on September 28!
Do you plan to read The Casual Vacancy?
1. Humbert & Dolores (Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov)
Setting aside all platitudes that "age doesn't matter," this great-granddaddy of illicit fiction reminds us that, when the ages are 12 and 37, indeed it does.
We all want a love that transcends time. But then there come those scenes when middle-aged Henry is canoodling with 13-year-old Clare—"breasts and legs and hips, all newly minted"—all alone, with her feet on his shoulders. The gentle reader can't help but get a case of the heebie-jeebies.
The guilty pleasure of reading The Lover comes from its setting in 1929 Saigon. So she's 15 and he's 32. Maybe everyone did that kind of thing back then, over there. We sure hope so, because no book has any right to be this sexy if it's actually creepy and gross.
What, you think his romance is with Bella? Sadly, you've got it all wrong. Sure, the 109-year-old Edward spends the entire series getting high on the pheromones of his 18-year-old girlfriend. But it's his forever-17 body, evocatively described in every third paragraph, that causes wolfpacks of 40-something moms to turn up at midnight for the movie premieres.
She's a free-spirited artistic type; he's big for 15, with that "prizefighter" look. But when the narrator goes all Linda Tripp on her "friend" Sheba and turns her in, the implosion proves much more satisfying than the affair.
Rebecca Coleman is the author of The Kingdom of Childhood (MIRA Books), which goes on sale today. It chronicles a most improper teacher-student relationship that results in a spiraling obsession. Coleman lives in suburban Maryland with her husband and their four young children. Watch a trailer for The Kingdom of Childhood here, or read our review of the book.
Happy Banned Books Week! Since 1982, the American Library Association has celebrated our freedom to read by calling attention to the books that are most frequently banned in the United States. This year's BBW runs from September 25-October 2.
Here's a bit more on the purpose of BBW, from the ALA website:
Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.
See this list for BBW library events around the country.
Also, Judy Blume—a personal favorite author of mine, and no stranger to censorship—maintains a great website on why books are challenged and why it's important to speak up for intellectual freedom.
Have any of your favorite books been challenged? (Hello, Harry Potter!)
This morning we offered the first look at our The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner review to Book of the Day subscribers, but now you can all check it out. The review can be found at this link, and in it Trisha writes that the novella is "poignant and full of Meyer's trademark thwarted love . . . a gift for fans—exactly as Meyer intended."
If you're hooked by the review, you're in luck! From noon today until July 7 at midnight, the novella is available for free online. Note that the text is available only at BreeTanner.com; you can't download it to an e-reader or phone or print it out.
Anyone read Bree Tanner yet?
Stephenie Meyer fans probably don't need a reminder, but just in case your summer reads have you distracted . . . The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner goes on sale tomorrow! The hardcover costs $13.99, and one dollar from every sale will be donated to the American Red Cross. At noon on June 7, you can read the book for free on Meyer's site.
Seth—Meyer's webmaster/little brother—posted a news item today on StephenieMeyer.com: Meyer has created a The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner Playlist, which you can check out here. (Side question: Do you all listen to music while you read? I never do—too distracting—although I can read in almost any public place.)
I'd also like to announce that on Monday morning, we'll be offering an exclusive first look at our review of Bree Tanner to Book of the Day subscribers. If you haven't already signed up for this fun and informative newsletter, you can do so now.
Anyone going to a late-night Bree Tanner release party or downloading the e-book at midnight?
Counting down the days until Stephenie Meyer's Eclipse comes out in theaters? Tickets go on sale at midnight tonight through Fandango and other online outlets. After New Moon drew the biggest ticket pre-sales in history, Summit decided to give viewers even longer to pack the theaters on Eclipse's opening night, June 13. Will you be buying your tickets early?
A few months ago I blogged about the new film adaptation of Wuthering Heights, and now it seems that buzz surrounding Emily Brontë's classic has only grown.
In the fall, HarperCollins released a Twilight-themed version of the novel in Britain (because Wuthering Heights is Bella Swan's favorite book). Over the weekend, The Telegraph reported that sales of the re-branded book have quadrupled, from 8,551 to 34,023 a year in Britain.
If you're eager to read about Heathcliff and Cathy with a group—whether you've been inspired by Stephenie Meyer, you're revisiting the classic or it's always been on your TBR list—check out the Wuthering Heights Read-along on book blog Fizzy Thoughts.
Today brings news of two novellas from two of fiction's biggest names: Stephenie Meyer and Stephen King. First up is King's baseball-themed story, Blockade Billy. The book is being released by Cemetery Dance, a small publisher, and is currently only available through their website as an e-book—though you can also pre-order the hardcover for a mid-April delivery. They describe the book as "an original, never-before-published novella that only the King of Horror could have dreamed up! Even diehard baseball fans don't know the true story of William Blakely, but in just a few weeks you'll be holding this dark tale in your own two hands so you can read it for yourself."
Stephenie Meyer fans will have to wait for June 5 to read her novella, a tale told from the perspective of Bree Tanner, a member of Victoria's vampire army in Eclipse. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner will have a 1.5 million copy first printing, which pretty much answers my question from the previous post about whether anything a Twilight connection overshadows Meyer's other projects! One dollar from every sale of the $13.99 hardcover will be donated to the American Red Cross. USA Today has more.
Will you be seeking out either book?
On April 13, Stephenie Meyer's first adult novel, The Host, will be released in paperback. Little, Brown has big plans for the new edition, which includes a bonus chapter and a telling "author of the Twilight saga" stamp on the cover. (Check out the handwritten Q&A Meyer did with BookPage when The Host was published in 2008.)
But are Meyer's future projects doomed to be overshadowed by the sparkly vampire juggernaut? Sure, The Host sold more than 2 million copies in hardcover, but the fourth Twilight novel, Breaking Dawn, sold 1.3 million copies in its first day of release.
All that may change when the film version of The Host is released. According to a Little, Brown press release, the movie rights have been "optioned by Nick Wechsler and Steve and Paula Mae Schwartz, the team that produced the film of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Andrew Niccol of Gattaca and The Truman Show will write the script and direct." Meyer has said though she preferred relative unknowns for the film version of Twilight, she'd enjoy seeing actors like Matt Damon, Casey Affleck and Ben Affleck starring in The Host.
Confession: I've read the Twilight saga AND most of The Host, which features body-snatching aliens and, yes, another love triangle. Meyer told Vogue that she sees The Host as a story about body image. "I'm not critical of others, but I am very critical of myself. . . . When I was working on this, I had to imagine what a gift it is to just have a body, and really love it, and that was good for me, I think." She has two sequels mapped out, but no pub date has yet been announced.
Other readers who found the male-female dynamic in Twilight slightly troubling will have even more to chew on with The Host, whose heroine endures actual physical abuse in order to prove her love/loyalty. (You can download a PDF excerpt from The Host by clicking here.) Anyone else read both books? How do you think they compare?
Is there anything more to say? We'll just cut to the chase and post the video.
Related content: Stephenie Meyer on BookPage.com