Lynn Shepherd must have known what she was getting herself into when she wrote a Huffington Post piece urging J.K. Rowling to get out of the adult literature market. Shepherd stated that other writers deserve a turn (this is how the world works, BTW) and although she has never read Rowling's work (ok..), Shepherd pointed out that Rowling's first work for adults,The Casual Vacancy, "sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere." I agree that it wasn't an excellent book, but damn, that's harsh.
Shepherd, who writes historical crime novels and titled her piece on the Huffington Post If JK Rowling Cares About Writing She Should Stop Doing It, recognized that the writer may have tried to let others have a turn by writing her latest book under a pseudonym, and was even so gracious as to suggest that Rowling tried her best to keep her identity under wraps. But, she also points out, Rowling was unmasked fairly quickly leading to soaring book sales. Now that Rowling is planning a sequel, Shepherd felt she needed to speak out.
In her plea she writes:
Remember what it was like when The Cuckoo's Callinghad only sold a few boxes and think about those of us who are stuck there, because we can't wave a wand and turn our books into overnight bestsellers merely by saying the magic word. By all means keep writing for kids, or for your personal pleasure - I would never deny anyone that - but when it comes to the adult market you've had your turn. Enjoy your vast fortune and the good you're doing with it, luxuriate in the love of your legions of fans, and good luck to you on both counts. But it's time to give other writers, and other writing, room to breathe.
Predictably, this caused a shit storm of fairly epic (magical?) proportions. Not only was the post soundly panned by commenters as well as other authors, but Rowling fans even went so far as to raid Shepherd's Amazon offerings, giving her books one star reviews. (Ironic, considering that like Shepherd, who had never read Rowling's books, these were readers who had probably never even heard of Lynn Shepherd.) And considering that Shepherd is a crime novelist, I can't imagine that she didn't expect this. But then, she writes historical fiction where there's no facebook, no Twitter, and certainly no Amazon.
Speaking to The Guardian, Shepherd apologized for her actions and stated that she had only been trying to raise the issue of how difficult it is to for writers to get noticed when they're just starting out, but this feels more like sour grapes (which Shepherd has stated was never her intention) due to the way the author approached the it, calling for Rowling to stop writing rather than asking her to reach out to the newer writers Shepherd is concerned about.
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