The next J.K. Rowling has been discovered and she's not you with your fifteen hundred-page manuscript about a cat named Larry Cotter who finds out that he, a seemingly ordinary house cat, can play piano and so joins a community of feline jazz musicians that play in speakeasies throughout prohibition-era America — she's a 20-year-old Oxford student named Samantha Shannon and her first novel, The Bone Season, helped garner her a multi-book, seven-figure deal with Bloomsbury.
Considering that the real J.K. Rowling is still writing, it might be a little premature to start looking for the "new" Rowling. Still, Bloomsbury editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle — whose name seems like that of a rough-draft Harry Potter character— was so impressed with Shannon's debut novel that she committed to an entire series based on the adventures of a 19-year-old clairvoyant named Paige, who escapes from a criminal underworld in the not-too-distant future only to be sent to the secret city of Oxford by the repressive future government. "The book," said Pringle, "is an utterly consuming adventure and we are committed to the seven." That's seven books, right from the get-go, coupled with lofty expectations to duplicate the success of a once-in-a-generation phenomenon. But hey, no pressure or anything.
Shannon seems to be relishing the moment, saying that she was "completely amazed and overwhelmed" when her agent interrupted her study of Hamlet with news that she could burn that musty Oxford library she was toiling away in to the ground and build an indoor roller coaster in its place with the money she was going to make from her book deal. Though buzz — Bloomsbury's buzz — for the book is ecstatic, yodel-from-the-Alps good, and Shannon has the huge up-front money to prove it, the rapacious urge to mimic or reproduce the success of Rowling's lucrative project saddles Shannon, who's not even out of college yet, with unreasonable expectations. Could her book be awesome? Sure it could — it sounds pretty cool. Will it? Only a clairvoyant, future-dwelling teenage miscreant could answer that.
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