JK Rowling’s new novel The Casual Vacancy came out this week, which gave the media yet another chance to remind us of the days when she was so poor that she used to have to sit in cafes to try and keep warm while she wrote.
There’s been the predictable lambasting of the book in the Press and criticism of her portrayal of the residents of the village of Tugford (the village she grew up in), but if you write about people you will – by definition – feature a range of character types and therefore inevitably always end up offending someone …
The other common thread that seems to run through the reviews I’ve read pretty much boils down to the idea that ‘She’s so rich now; she probably doesn’t even care what we think‘.
I’d suggest the opposite to be the case. Your book is your baby. You love your baby, and if anyone criticises your baby you can’t help but take it personally. Don’t forget: JK Rowling knows a thing or two about rejection, and where would she be today if (after twelve of them) that ONE person at Bloomsbury Publishing hadn’t finally said yes to the Harry Potter books?
Would that magic touch secure her a deal today though?
Joanne Rowling is rich beyond her wildest dreams, but what if she was NOT now ‘The‘ JK Rowling, but an unknown author submitting this as her debut novel? Judging by the criticism it’s receiving you’d assume she wouldn’t even get as far as securing an Agent to represent her, BUT (and this is the bit that often makes me want to weep with frustration) who’s to actually say what’s good and what’s bad?
Some people will think The Casual Vacancy is a great read, and some people won’t. It’s simply our opinion, in just the same way that we will either love or hate Marmite and have our own preferences in every other aspect of our lives (from TV and music, right through to our favourite breakfast cereal), and this is what’s SO heartbreaking for those of us who aren’t JK Rowling: even if this book was the worst thing ever written, it’s still out there because of who she is.
It’s all in the name
I’m JK Reynolds, and I’m so poor that I can’t even afford to sit in cafes, but am one of many people who have written a book that they hope might also have the potential to one day take them from penury to financial security (and from obscurity to literary stardom) overnight. Unfortunately, as none of us have yet found that one person who’ll wave a magic wand for us; are some sort of TV personality who’ll be ‘asked by their Agent’ to write a novel (which will then be guaranteed a ‘fast-track’ through to a supermarket shelf near you), or have yet become an internet phenomenon, we just sit with our noses metaphorically pressed up-against the window at the negative press this book is getting and still wish it was us.
If you’re finding that JK Rowling’s new book isn’t quite your cup of tea then perhaps it’s not because of the subject matter, the writing style or that you might just want an opportunity to criticise the author, but simply that it’s just not to your taste? There’s enough books out there to choose from, so how about looking around to find something else that does engage you?
Maybe even something from an unknown writer …
Jane’s novel ‘Just Good Friends?’ is available on Amazon & Kindle.