Calling all Potterheads! Alert, “lightning has struck”! Our beloved Queen, Ms. Jo Rowling herself, has announced that there will soon be another book.
Wait, what’s that? Okay everyone, put away your wands and Gryffindor scarves… It’s not the much-fantasized eighth Harry Potter book, nor is it a George Lucas-esque Hogwarts prequel, or even the promised Wizarding World encyclopedia. Nope, this time, J.K. Rowling is aiming her wand pen toward an older crowd.
Yesterday, Friday, February 24th, Rowling announced that she is writing a new book, this time for adults. While all seven of her extremely popular Harry Potter series were published with the British-based Bloomsbury Publishing group (and Scholastic in the United States), the unnamed new novel will be produced by Little, Brown, in both the U.S. and U.K. This was all of the information provided by Ms. Rowling and the publishers, as the book’s genre, plot line, and publication date are being kept under wraps for a later announcement this year.
Rowling released a rare Tweet about the news: “As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much.”
So what’s a rabid fan to do in the meantime? Speculate!
Like the hard-core Potter fans (and myself, no shame) before the release of each book, conspiracy theories are rampant. And The Guardian, one of Britain’s most-read newspapers, is only fueling the fire. Guardian blogger Alison Flood posted an article on the newspaper’s website yesterday claiming that this mysterious new book is most likely a crime novel. Flood’s assertion is based mainly on Rowling’s choice of Little, Brown publisher David Shelley. Before his current position at Little, Brown, Shelley was publishing director of an independent press focused on the crime and thriller genre—Allison & Busby. His success in the industry there soon drew the attention of Little, Brown, where he is now editorial director of crime and thrillers. Shelley has worked with big-name crime writers in the past—such as Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, and Carl Hiassen—and it looks like he may have found another one.
As a self-identified Potterhead, I was at first surprised to hear that J.K. Rowling’s new book would most likely be in the crime genre, but after some thought, this actually makes a lot of sense. Think about the Harry Potter series as a whole: full of expertly woven plot threads, characters with unclear motives (I’m looking at you, Snape), complicated backstories, and usually some sort of twist at the end. These elements are all characteristic of classic crime novels as well. And while many novels in this genre are more plot-driven than character-driven, given Rowling’s strength in writing complex and fascinating characters in the Potter series, I would bet that this new book (if it is indeed a crime novel) will be more than just the average whodunit. When or if Ms. Rowling turns her eye to the crime genre, I would bet that we will see not just amazingly convoluted plot setups, but also artfully written characters and observations on human nature—more in the style of Agatha Christie than Dan Brown.
Regardless, as the generation to have grown up reading Harry Potter reaches adulthood, there will certainly be a market for whatever Rowling writes in the near future. I have no doubt that we will see lines outside bookstores at midnight come publication day. I know I’ll be there—and I may or may not be wearing my Gryffindor scarf.