Sunday, September 30, 2012

J,K Rowling's new book ruffles feathers

J.K Rowling's new book came out this past week to mixed reviews. I've bought it on ebook and will get round to it once I finish reading the Ellie Chronicles by John Marsden. I'm looking forward to it. I know it's not Harry Potter and I know it's going to be very, very different. I've heard that it's full of porn and sex and swearing and I'm not bothered by that at all. I'm a big girl. I can handle a little bit of swearing and sex. Other people though...

There's been a lot of pearl clutching over this book. A lot of people have been massively turned off by the "unlikable" characters and all of the sex and porn and swear words in it. Depsite JK stating again and again that this was NOT a children's book in any shape or form people are still so in love with her Harry Potter books a lot hoped that her new book would contain a little bit of that same magic.

Perhaps it might have been better for JK to write under a pen name? Or at least change her name to her married name? The name JK Rowling will forever be associated with the Harry Potter books. Now that those books are over perhaps it was a bad marketing move to publish under that name? A lot of people would have seen her new book and gasped and bought it without a second's notice thinking "Oh goodie! more magic!"

I read one "review" (and I use that word loosely) on Amazon the other day that said they hadn't read the whole book just half the sample chapter. They were turned off by the word fag being used to describe a cigarette (British slang) and that the book was written in British English rather than American.

I do find it curious that JK's new book was not "translated" into American English like the HP books were. I've been told in publishing not write in Australian English. I've been told that my sales will increase if I write in American.

Mum...Mom...Colour...Color...Sidewalk...Footpath.... God, it's all so much for me to understand. All those little's like a different language...

I didn't like it when my publisher said to me they wanted to change my book into American English. I didn't put up a fuss though. Privately, I was annoyed, because I don't see why such a massive change has to be done. Are American readers so sheltered that they cannot handle reading a book that has Mum instead of Mom in it?

Back to JK Rowling...I know I've said in the past that I was confident that she would be able to find success outside of Harry Potter. Now I'm not so sure. I think Harry Potter is going to haunt her until the end of her days. The press and the public are not going to be happy until she either does another HP novel or HP universe novel or some other type of children's book.

People don't like this new "darker, edgier" JK Rowling. They want Harry Potter back or something close to it. It's not that JK Rowling is not talented. She is. The problem is she channeled lightning in a bottle with Harry Potter. Will she ever be able to top it? It's looks like...not. But would she want to go through all that madness and stress again? If she's anything like me probably not. It must have been so refreshing to be able to write her new book without her publishers poking her in the back telling her "Hurry up! children all around the world are waiting!" JK Rowling has already had so much success she doesn't need anymore. I actually hope that she continues to write what she wants from this point on and doesn't give in to pressure (from the public and her publishers) to release a little bit of that old magic again.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Writing about hot topics

Should some subjects be taboo in writing? I don’t think so. Writers should have the freedom to write about whatever (and whoever) they want as long as they are factually correct, don’t plagiarise, or commit libel. How should writers handle writing about sensitive subjects? With the greatest of care. Topics like sex, religion, and race should always be treated like they’re fragile, dirt encrusted recently dug up World War Two bombs that might go off if mishandled.

I’ve always said to people that you can never please everyone in writing. Regardless of how lightly you tread there will always be someone who will find what you write offensive, bitch about it to their friends, or maybe even take it one step further and write a bad review about it on the internet. That doesn’t mean you should avoid sensitive topics like the plague. If you have an idea that revolves around something people might be sensitive about take the time to stop and think: How will people react to my story? Will they understand what I’m trying to say? Or will they misinterpret my message? Is this project worth going ahead with? There’s an old saying: any publicity is good publicity and it’s true.

What do you need to be a best selling author? Well, talent, of course. Patience, yes. A good cover would be nice. And you know what can be helpful? Public outrage. How much of a difference is there between outrage and fascination? Not much. Look at the Harry Potter books. They tip toed around a sensitive subject: religion. Despite the fact that Wicca was not featured at all in the books, calling the characters “witches” and “wizards” caused a lot of outrage among some religious groups, which gained the books attention, which gave it more media coverage, in the end helping the books to become more successful.

Outrage leads to people talking which leads to more people looking you and your books up online and maybe, if you’re lucky, an increase in sales. What do all writers want? Attention. We want to be noticed. But we have to be smart. Do you research. Don’t make an ass out of yourself. Don’t write something so racist, so stupid, so thoughtless that the publishers will run screaming from you.