Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: Hello, I’m Sherrill Sherwood from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
There have been discussions and debates as to whether an established author should change their pen name when venturing out, writing in a different genre. Some loyal fans of certain authors feel betrayed when they excitedly crack open the newest title by their favorite and realize the author has tried something new.
Today Bessie Sullivan, Erin Kernohan-Berning and I will discuss some cross-genre titles and authors.
Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: One of the most intriguing examples of a writer producing different genres under different names is Inger Ash Wolfe who writes mysteries featuring Hazel Micallef a 62 year old interim police chief on a small-town Ontario force who lives with her mother, the larger than life ex. Mayor of the town. Hazel has an on again, off again Percocet problem as well as issues with authority. She has so far starred in three novels, The Calling, The Taken, and A door in the river. It was known that Wolfe was a pseudonym for a “well known north American writer”, but no-one seemed to know who it was. Finally in July of 2012, four years after the publication of The Calling, Michael Redhill admitted that he was Wolfe. Redhill the author of literary titles Martin Sloan and Consolation couldn’t be much different than Wolfe if he tried, of her he says “I can take up to a decade to write a novel, but Inger wrote three good ones in five years. I was rather amazed. She was more widely read than I, and she was earning more money than I did. She was going to have her own life and her own fate and I was very pleased.” Having read books by both Redhill and Wolfe I have a hard time viewing them as the same person and it seems to me that Michael Redhill does too.
Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: The name Stephen King is synonymous with the horror novel. Titles like Misery, The Shining, Carrie, and Cujo are among his most spine tingling works. However, King under his own name is also an accomplished writer in science fiction and fantasy, categories under which readers will find his self-described magnum opus the eight volume Dark Tower series. Written between 1982 and 2012, starting with The Gunslinger, the Dark Tower series chronicles the quest of Roland Deschain, part Clint Eastwood-esque gunslinger, part knight of Arthurian legend. Roland is living in a dying place called Mid-World where he seeks the Dark Tower while being pursued by the mysterious Man in Black. As Roland travels along the path of the mythical beam he finds a motley crew of allies from other worlds; fights beasts, demons, giant robots and gangsters; and covers terrain from haunted forests to the New Jersey Turnpike. Listing Lord of the Rings and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly among his inspirations, King weaves fantasy, western, science fiction, and even some of his own works in horror into a complex world that is as rich as it is falling apart at the seams. Prolific Stephen King readers will also recognize many references to his stand alone works including Salem’s Lot, The Stand, It, and Bag of Bones.
I enjoy many of King’s non-horror works, particularly his novellas and short stories – many of which have inspired hit movies and television shows. But to me, the Dark Tower series represents the ultimate in great genre-bending fiction. Perhaps it is King’s nod to his own more successful work that allows him to dabble in multiple genres without alienating his audience. Either way, Stephen King appears to be able to get away with genre hopping quite nicely without the need of a pseudonym.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: Famed author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, ventured into new territory in 2012 with The Casual Vacancy, described as a big novel about a small town. Reviews were mixed for The Casual Vacancy with some describing it as “howlingly bleak” and “not only disappointing – it’s dull” while others declared it “a highly readable morality tale for our times” and “sometimes funny, often startlingly well observed.”
In 2013 Rowling released a mystery novel The Cuckoo’s Calling under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, complete with a made up biography on the Little Brown website, profiling Galbraith as a former military police investigator using the pseudonym. When news leaked out that Rowling was the writer, she said; “I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.” While it sold a few thousand with fairly good reviews before the author was outed, sales skyrocketed when Rowling confirmed she was really Robert Galbraith.
A second novel, The Silkworm, by Rowling writing as Galbraith, will be released in June 2014 with private investigator Cormoran Strike from The Cuckoo’s Calling returning to search for a missing novelist.
That’s it for this week’s edition of Library Moments. Thanks for listening here on 100.9 CANOE FM.
* originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM March 16-22nd, 2014.