For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Harry Potter and the Cuckoo's Tweet: battle averted without a shot being fired

In the Faraway Land of Sabbatical she may be, but Catherine ("Cat the Kat") Lee is still taking an active interest in intellectual property developments, and is this passion for the subject that has led her to put pen to paw and produce the following piece of prose on the outing of JK (or should that be AKA?) Rowling:

The Cuckoo's
Calling ...
 
"Twitter has increasingly become a popular platform to reveal confidential information relating to celebrities. Last year it was super injunction summer (on which see Katpost here). This month it was the news that Robert Galbraith, author of the critically acclaimed debut crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling, was in fact the pen name of Harry Potter author JK Rowling.

As has been widely reported, the revelation of Ms Rowling’s authorship began on 9 July 2013 when well-known Sunday Times journalist and novelist India Knight tweeted praise for The Cuckoo’s Calling as a debut novel. One of Knight’s 97,000 Twitter followers, Judith Callegari, commented that the work was by an established author. When Ms Knight enquired ‘who?’, the reply she received from Ms Callegari was ‘Rowling’. Ms Callegari then deleted her Twitter account.

... the Twitter's tweeting ...
The story then goes that, intrigued by Ms Callegari’s response, Ms Knight informed Richard Brooks, the arts editor of The Sunday Times, who in turn conducted his own investigation. This revealed that Ms Rowling and ‘Robert Galbraith’ shared the same agent and editor at publisher Little, Brown. Textual analysis by linguistic expert Professor Patrick Juola of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Casual Vacancy (Ms Rowling’s other so-far-known foray into the adult book market) concluded that all three had been written by the same person. Armed with this information, Mr Brooks contacted Little, Brown to obtain an interview with ‘Robert Galbraith’. When this was continually refused, Mr Brooks posed the express question ‘Is it Rowling?’. It was only then that Rowling and Little, Brown admitted the truth about the identity of ‘Robert Galbraith’.

And what of Ms Callegari? It turns out that she is a friend of Chris Gossage, partner at boutique media law firm Russells. In mid-July a statement from Russells read: 
‘We, Russells Solicitors, apologise unreservedly for the disclosure caused by one of our partners, Chris Gossage, in revealing to his wife’s best friend, Judith Callegari, during a private conversation that the true identity of Robert Galbraith was in fact J K Rowling. Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly. On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified JK Rowling’s agent. We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither JK Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved’.
At the same time Rowling said in a statement
“I have discovered how the leak about Robert’s true identity occurred. A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know.”
She added: 
“To say that I am disappointed is an understatement. I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”
Not surprisingly, Ms Rowling commenced legal proceedings against Russells, Mr Gossage and Ms Callegari. Today the matter was mercifully settled in the High Court with Russells, Mr Gossage and Ms Callegari agreeing to pay Rowling’s legal costs and to make a substantial donation to Soldiers' Charity (an organisation who had helped her with her research for The Cuckoo’s Calling). A statement read in open court ran as follows:
... and our Cat's a-blogging
‘The claimant was angry and distressed that her confidences had been betrayed and this was very much aggravated by repeated speculation that the leak had, in fact, been a carefully coordinated publicity stunt by her, her agent and her publishers designed to increase sales.

The claimant has been left dismayed and distressed by such a fundamental betrayal of trust. As a reflection of their regret for breach of the claimant’s confidence including frustrating the claimant’s ability to continue to write anonymously under the name Robert Galbraith, the defendants are here today to apologise publicly to the claimant.’
And what of The Cuckoo’s Calling? Before Rowling's identity as the author was revealed, just 1,500 copies of the printed book had been sold together with 7,000 copies of the ebook, audiobook and library editions. Once her identity was revealed, it surged to from No 4,709 to No 1 on the Amazon best-seller list".
The conspiracy theory has now been firmly and explicitly denied, though there are still grounds for suspecting that we have not heard the last of it. After all, we have no idea where any members of the Russells partnership were on 22 November 1963 when another JK was done away with in circumstances that have never been satisfactorily explained ...

Merpel takes this opportunity to state categorically that, notwithstanding her fluency of style, her elegant wit and her air of mystery, she is a real fictional Kat and not merely a nom-de-plume of JK Rowling.

Posted on behalf of Catherine by Jeremy

6 comments:

Hans Sachs said...

Maybe Merpel could host a contest to see who can come up with the best new pseudonym for J.K. Rowling? Hopefully, if she keeps the same solicitors, they won't be reading this blog when the winning submission is announced.

Suleman said...

I wonder why Rowling used a pseudonym. It seems like something to hide behind almost for writers, where they are a bit more relaxed about what they write as they have some shielding against negative reviews. The Harry Potter books were close to perfect in what they were trying to achieve, and perhaps its hard to continue to live up to that expectation.

Anonymous said...

There is a lovely story of a German publisher buying the rights at a knock-down price who now stands to make quite a bit of money:

http://www.thelocal.de/money/20130722-50973.html

Roufousse T. Fairfly said...

I wonder why Rowling used a pseudonym.

This is not a first. Romain Gary comes to mind. Gary revealed in his suicide note that he and Émile Ajar were one. (As well as Shatan Bogat, René Deville and Fosco Sinibaldi, and Roman Kacew, his name at birth in Lithuania).

The mystification had lasted long enough to allow Ajar to win the same Goncourt literary prize that Gary had won earlier.

The Gary case is rich stuff for psychoanalysts.

Anonymous said...

Some consider the use (and moreso the choice) of pseudonym to be an art in itself.

Dosti SMS said...

I wasn't very thrilled about The Casual Vacancy, JKR's entree into adult fiction. In fact, it wasn't my thing at all. I couldn't even finish it.

But with The Cuckoo's Calling JKR's done it again. She's brought back the warmth I always associated with Hogwarts in this solid muggle detective story! The writing is BRILLIANT- with lines I found myself highlighting and smiling at. I love the quirkiness in her descriptions and how well fleshed out the characters were. Their accents, their airs, the mannerisms- all so beautifully captured, just like she did in Potter!

The main character is this stand-up guy whose back story reminded me a lot of Dr. Watson from Sherlock Holmes! His secretary, Robin, made a great partner-in-crime-solving(?)! I do hope we see more and more of her. YES, there is more. This is only the first book in a series and I'm already waiting for the next book! It's also a pretty good mystery. I couldn't solve this whodunnit till the very end of the book when I was surprised to find out who the murderer was.

I guess the bottomline is this:

The Cuckoo's Calling, plot-wise, is NOTHING like Harry Potter. It's an adult detective novel, for godssake. BUT it comes closest to being as warm, as amazing, as engrossing and as much of a treat as a Potter novel! The characters leap out of the page! Even better, since it's an adult novel, the characters don't hold back at all! The mystery is tightly knit, hard to solve! Descriptions of food- even if it's Pot Noodle and sticky toffee pudding rather than pumpkin juice, chocolate frogs and treacle tart- will make your mouth water. When you near the end, you will feel yourself slowing down, not because you're bored but because you don't want it to end.

An all too familiar feeling, isn't it?

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