JK Rowling is like Welsey Shaw

Welsey/JKJK Rowling is a lot like my heroine, Welsey Anne Shaw.

Welsey, who has been famous her whole adult life, wants to go out into the ordinary world and test herself. How would people treat her if she were an ordinary person?

JK, who has been famous for one thing, the Harry Potter novels, seems to want to know how life would be for her as an “ordinary novelist”? How would editors and readers receive her and her work when they didn’t know a famous person did it?

Pretty brave, I say. How many other famous people do this sort of thing? Wonder about it? Care about it? (Well, Welsey does, of course; that’s why she’s the heroine of the book.) JK Rowling, richer than the Queen of England, wants to know how she’d do as “Robert Galbraith,” a former military plain clothes detective now taken to writing crime novels.

Not very well seemed to be the verdict. Before someone at a British newspaper figured out who she was, The Cuckoo’s Calling, sold a measly 499 copies.

Now that we know it’s JK, the pages are flying off the presses. But Ms. Rowling learned something that Welsey worries about: things are very different for you when people know you’re a famous person.

It’s not often that the privileged, the extraordinary, the ones living a fantasy life, desire to step outside and expose themselves to the elements. The fact that Rowling did says a lot about her and her integrity. She could free-ride off Harry Potter for the rest of her life. Certainly plenty of other artistic people continue to churn out more of what  initially made them rich and famous—and loved.

But Rowling clearly wants to challenge herself. First she wrote a non-Harry Potter novel under her own name, The Casual Vacancy. It did not do spectacularly. Now it turns out she’s also written and released this detective novel, under a fake name. And it did even worse.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me respect her tremendously. I almost want to go read Harry Potter now, something I’ve avoided, not because of any snobbery, but because children’s literature has never really interested me. (Even when I was a kid I was peeking into my parents’ bookshelves to check out titles like The Outline of History by H.G. Wells and Richard Halliburton’s Book of Marvels. With a few exceptions, fantasy has never been a big draw for me.)

Her recent actions have shown me that JK is not just someone content with getting fat from Potterbucks. She wants to test her writer’s mettle in the real literary waters, and she wants to do it on the basis of the words alone and not the celebrity of the writer.

Awesome. Welsey would certainly be impressed.

She says she wishes the secret could have been kept up a little longer. She wanted to be free of her reputation.

Welsey shaw can relate. She’d like to be free of who she is too. In fact, that’s largely what the whole story is about.


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