With the arrival of J.K. Rowling’s new book “The Casual Vacancy” on Sept. 27, many people wonder how she would distance herself from her wildly popular “Harry Potter” series, or if the book will be able to live up to the same standard. It is a valid concern as moving on from a successful book series can be difficult for authors.
Suzanne Collins of “The Hunger Games” and Stephenie Meyer of “Twilight” are both authors whose series have made them famous, rich and, for better or worse, possibly locked into their genres.
Christopher Paolini, with “Inheritance Cycle,” has yet to break away from his series, adding a fourth book on top of a trilogy.
Lemony Snicket, the pen name of author Daniel Handler and the writer of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” has had the same problem, and even using another name has not yet helped him escape the shadow of his own success.
A successful book franchise may place pressure on an author to recreate the magic a second time. Sometimes, authors do not have the motivation to move on after all, successful book series can be extremely lucrative for everyone involved.
Rowling is currently one of the richest women in the United Kingdom. A popular book series can lead to movie deals, spin-offs and other writing opportunities.
Getting published is difficult in the first place, so some authors might be reluctant to stray from what brought them success once they hit it big. There have been literary chameleons out there, able to shift from one genre to the next without care, Roahd Dahl and Judy Blume among them. Usually, however, going from young adult fiction to the adult crowd is nigh impossible.
A Los Angeles Times report noted that “the challenge to a writer making the change isn’t just the need for deeper characterization and more nuanced plots — the prose itself has to evolve.”
Yet. some authors, such as Rowling, are willing to write for a different genre. Such authors may not be successful; their name alone might not be enough to sell books. But they often try a new genre anyway, simply because they have a story in mind.
Whether Rowling is. indeed, successful in her attempt at adult fiction, it is hard to say. Sometimes it does not seem to matter whether or not the book in question is any good – what matters most, after all, is more times than not what the readers want.