J.K. Rowling proves yet again that there's always more to write about the world of Harry Potter. And that she never sleeps.
Today the author posted part one of the “History of the Quidditch World Cup” on Pottermore, the interactive website for fans of the wizarding world. Since Pottermore's public launch in 2012, Rowling has used the platform to share extra original stories, character histories and more.
According to The Telegraph, part one imparts historical and technical detail of the tournament, as well as tales of controversial matches, such as the Tournament that Nobody Remembers of 1877. Part two will be posted next Friday and will include a closer look at the hilarious and absurd World Cup rulebook, including limitations placed on dragons. At 2,400 words, it is one of the longest stories ever to be featured on the site.
For those who aren't Pottermore members, a World Cup amuse-bouche:
• Flavorwire rounded up some fantastic video and audio clips of authors reading their own works. We're talking Joan Didion (at right), Zadie Smith, William Faulkner, Truman Capote . . . and 11 others!
• Hold onto your hats, Robert Galbraith fans, because J.K. Rowling has announced that her Cormoran Strike crime fiction series will not end with June's publication of The Silkworm. Five additional novels will follow!
• Brit Tim Martin has started a new 26-part weekly Telegraph series he's referring to as an "A to Z of forgotten books" that deserve to be remembered. First up: A is for Ariel by André Maurois, first published in 1923.
• Yes, Valentine's Day is over, and everyone's experiencing some internet-quiz fatigue these days, but no self-respecting bibliophile could pass up BuzzFeed's Which Classic Author Is Your Soulmate? (I, for one, can't wait to watch Before Sunset with my dreamily handsome match, Anton Chekov, at left.)
In The Cuckoo's Calling, Detective Cormoran B. Strike and his plucky young assistant Robin unraveled the truth behind the death of a famous model. Now Strike and Robin return in The Silkworm to investigate the disappearance of a novelist.
The publisher shares more:
When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, Mrs. Quine just thinks her husband has gone off by himself for a few days—as he has done before—and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.
But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives–meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.
When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before…
Our reviewer loved the "fascinating cast of fast-track suspects both repellent and attractive" in The Cuckoo's Calling. It would be fair to say that Rowling's greatest talent lies in crafting finely drawn and unforgettable characters—including peripheral characters—and she makes no exception when writing as Galbraith. Are you looking forward to the new suspects in Rowling's next thriller?
So you've read all the Harry Potter books at least five times. You've been to Harry Potter World. You bought a wand, and then another wand. You did the Pottermore thing and got all your friends who haven't read Harry Potter to get sorted, just so you know.
Fortunately, we all may continue to absorb ourselves in the world of Harry Potter (forever and ever), because J.K. Rowling has agreed to write a series of films set in her wizarding world. The films will be based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a textbook used at Hogwarts, and will follow the adventures of the book’s fictional author Newt Scamander. It will be Rowling's screenwriting debut.
No dates yet, but that should be enough to hold us Potterheads over for now!
Read on for a quote from Rowling in the Warner Bros press release:
“The idea of seeing Newt Scamander, the supposed author of ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ realized by another writer was difficult. Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt. As hard-core Harry Potter fans will know, I liked him so much that I even married his grandson, Rolf, to one of my favourite characters from the Harry Potter series, Luna Lovegood.
Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway."
Rowling's secret was scooped by The Sunday Times, which noticed that Galbraith used an agent and publisher that had worked with Rowling.
Who would have guessed? Robert Galbraith was even given an elaborate back story by Mulholland Books. They described him as a former member of the Special Investigative Branch of the Royal Military Police who "left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry."
Galbraith's "debut" was praised by critics and crime fiction readers alike. It's a classic, almost retro detective story that introduces the offbeat Detective Cormoran B. Strike and his curious sidekick Robin. Our reviewer called Galbraith "a singular new voice." Not new at all, in fact. But how can you blame her, considering the hype surrounding Rowling's first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy?
Rowling lamented the loss of her anonymity and this "liberating experience," saying, "It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name."
The Cuckoo's Calling will be reprinted with a revised author biography, but Rowling will continue to write the series under the pseudonym.
Readers, did any of you check out The Cuckoo's Calling? Would you have ever thought it was Rowling?
• For some reason, it surprised me that Virginia Woolf rolled her Rs. What do you think of this rare 1937 recording of her speaking, a true literary treat posted over on The Paris Review?
• Last week, we linked to Book Riot's list of five books that had awful original titles. This week, The Huffington Post upped the ante by sharing the working titles—some awful, some not so awful—of 24 classics.
• Speaking of titles—and Book Riot—raise your hand if you agree with this list of four overly used title formulas that should be retired.
• Keep your hands raised if you suffer from the same "read and forget" affliction that Ian Crouch describes on Page-Turner.
• We always like to include a little eye candy, so here's Book Riot's compilation of some neat, quirky bookish lamps. Which one would you want to read by?
• Check out this Open Culture post of an essential reading list that Hemingway put together for a young aspiring writer back in 1934. Is anyone aside from me having trouble picturing Hemingway reading—much less recommending—Wuthering Heights?
• Finally, a one-of-a-kind first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, annotated by author J.K. Rowling, fetched $227,421 in a charity auction this week. Wow.
As part of our Best Books of 2012 coverage, our editors weigh in on some of their personal favorites from the list.
J.K. Rowling's first published novel for adults has received more mixed reviews than any other book published in 2012. We are firmly in the "worth reading" camp. In her story of warring factions in a small town in England's West Country, Rowling reminds us of how good she is at slowly building a world with small details; at writing catchy dialogue (does anyone have a better ear?); and at touching our hearts. The Casual Vacancy is sobering and sad, but the characters will stick in your mind, maybe even changing how you think about people born into poverty.
View our Best Books of 2012: #26-50. Full list to come later this week!
Readers, I know what I'm doing today! I'll give you a hint:
Yep, today I am reading The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults. If this week's Monday Contest is any indication, I'd bet that many of you are doing the same thing. So far, more than 25% of commenters on the contest have listed The Casual Vacancy on their own personal Top 10 lists for fall reading.
A few reviews have already come in for The Casual Vacancy, but I'm avoiding them so my own review for BookPage will be only my opinion, free of influence.
However, I did head to Parnassus Books in Nashville this morning to purchase a hardcover of the novel (even though I started reading in the middle of the night when the book was delivered on my Kindle!). I spent a few minutes chatting with store owner Ann Patchett, who confessed that she loved the book. Ann was one of the few people in the world who got to read the novel early (a copy was hand-delivered to her here in Nashville by a Little Brown representative). Ann will be interviewing Rowling on stage on October 16 at Lincoln Center—it's the only event Rowling will do in the United States. If you weren't able to get tickets, get in touch with your local bookstore; they may livestream the interview, as Parnassus is planning to do.
Though I don't want to post any spoilers of what I've read so far, I will say that we are very clearly not in Hogwarts. This is no surprise if you read this week's profile of Rowling in the New Yorker, which revealed the profanity and other adult content that readers can expect in this novel.
What I will say is that so far the book has made me chuckle. It's also made me whip out a pen and paper to keep track of names, as the early chapters are packed with introductions of characters.
Also present in the opening pages: crushes, a hint of domestic abuse, town gossip and the seed of political turmoil in a small English village.
Okay, enough chatting--time to get back to reading! Who else is diving into The Casual Vacancy today? What are your thoughts so far?
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?