By now the whole world knows that crime novelist Robert Galbraith is the pseudonym of J.K. Rowling, but the Harry Potter writer admitted that, in the beginning, not even her editor knew. (Talk about the best surprise ever.) In interviews with NPR's Morning Edition and Pop Culture Happy Hour, Rowling opened up about her pseudonym Robert Galbraith — and what it was like writing her new book as someone else entirely.
When Rowling published the first book under the Robert Galbraith name, The Cuckoo's Calling, only a few select people knew that the mystery novel was secretly penned by Rowling — and that was just how she wanted it. However, the wife of one of Rowling's lawyers let the information slip to a friend who then told the press, and the rest is history.
Rowling has since published two more novels in the Cormoran Strike series, The Silkworm and now Career of Evil. The novels focus on the investigations of ex-military man-turned-private detective Cormoran Strike, and Career of Evil, which was released in October, is the darkest in the series so far.
For Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith was a chance to be just another first-time author again. She told NPR that she was sorry that she didn't get to enjoy the feeling of relative anonymity for longer, and she shared more details about the new book and about being "Robert."
Here are five exciting new things we learned from the interviews.
Her Editor Didn't Know Who She Was When He Accepted The Manuscript
Rowling submitted the manuscript to publishers without revealing her true name, only using the pseudonym — and once someone accepted the book, Rowling apparently told the unsuspecting new editor who she really was by surprising him at lunch. As Rowling recalls:
We had this very, very, very funny lunch where he didn't know who he was coming to meet. He thought he was meeting my agent who was also Robert's agent. And then I turned up. So that was one of the most memorable lunches of all of our lives!
Robert Is A Real Person To Her
As she told NPR:
He's younger than me. And he's a kind of craggy guy. I had a whole biography, a very detailed biography, worked out for him. There we certain individuals who helped me in this, and we together concocted a CV for Robert Galbraiath.
And apparently, that person still lives on in her head.
Writing The New Book Gave Her Nightmares
If this is any indication of readers will feel, we should probably not read this one while we're home alone at night. Here's her account of writing the book:
This is the first time ever that a book has literally given me nightmares. And it wasn't the writing of the novel that gave me nightmares, it was the research.
She later explained that much of the book was inspired by real-life serial killers, such as Ted Bundy — which is enough to give anyone nightmares. She adds:
I thought it was really important to understand the mindset, because some of the chapters are written from the point of view of a psychopathic killer. So what do those men say about what they feel about what they do? ... What do those men feel is a very interesting question, because I think their capacity to feel is very blunted. So researching all of that was simultaneously fascinating and incredibly disturbing.
She Does See Some Of Herself In Cormoran Strike
As it turns out, Rowling isn't all that different from her male character.
It would be wrong, wholly wrong, to suggest he's an autobiographical character — he's a disabled veteran, he's a man, obviously ... however there are things that I like in him, and that I would like to feel that we share. He has a very strong work ethic. He is a tryer, in all circumstances. And at the point where we meet him in the very first book, he is absolutely on his uppers, in a way that I too have experienced, in that he is as poor as you can be without being homeless.
Will There Be Another Book?
When asked when Robert Galbraith might start writing again, Rowling replied, "He is actually back to work already." Yes!
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