Friday, July 19, 2013

What's in a Name? Just Ask J.K. Rowling

No it's not You Know Who. It's Robert Galbraith
by Saralee Rosenberg

Will the real Robert Galbraith, please stand up? He could. Just not in a men’s room. For as we all now know, he is a she. A pseudonym for the master of reinvention, J.K. Rowling. 
Why did the most famous female author on the planet decide to publish a detective novel and then hide behind a fictitious, Scottish man’s name? One with fake credentials as a civilian security expert?

She claims to have needed liberation from the tyranny of unfathomable success. Technically I put those words in her mouth but you get the gist. It would be like if Julia Robert’s character in Pretty Woman got bored being Richard Gere’s designer-shopper girlfriend and decided to return to the streets because she missed being a hooker.

Totally understandable. It’s rough out there for the King Arthur of novelists. Before penning a mystery novel, I bet she was wiling away her days in her castle/condo singing, “What do the simple writers do? To help them escape when they’re blue? However do they manage to shed their weary lot? Oh whattttt do the simple writers do? To forget… when their Visa bills come… and the rejection letters are piling high… and their agents don’t return their calls…

Actually what she said was this. “It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and the pure pleasure of getting feedback under a different name."

Frankly I’ve been surprised by the outrage that she duped readers and booksellers alike. Let’s not forget that she began her novel writing career by using initials rather than her name, Joanne. She did so because she was convinced that men authors got bigger, better deals than women authors, and earned far greater respect from readers and editors.

Duh. Can you think of any male authors who have used a woman’s name as a pseudonym?

And let’s also not forget that Ms. Rowling has been the mother of reinvention in terms of appearances, too. Check out her evolution since her early Harry Potter Days. She went from Muggle to Magnificent!

Not that I judge her for having work done. She looks stunning, even with her Anna Wintour-Botox pout.

I guess what bothers me most is the idea that she has no finish line. It’s not that she should ever stop growing as a writer. It’s just disheartening that beneath the cosmetic surgery and billions in assets must still be the insecure waitress at London pubs who scribbled story ideas on soggy napkins. So maybe we should let her know that it's okay if she stops reinventing herself. We love her. Admire her. Wish we were her.

But just in case she decides it's too risky to write under the name J.K. Rowling anymore, I’ll be all too happy to borrow it.


  1. This is perfect, from start to finish! Great perspective, Saralee.

  2. Ditto what Ellen said! OMG - this was spot-on and HILARIOUS! (From Muggle to Magnificent...brilliant!)

  3. Saralee, Brava!! Loved ever sentence every word.
    My favorite part was imagining her singing "What would the simple writers Do" and Yes I can picture Richard Harris from the 1967 movie. Thanks for the image :)

  4. I absolutely loved this post, Saralee! It's witty and on point! I bet that's how we all feel about the uber-accomplished Ms. Rowling! Fun Friday read!

  5. Love this, Saralee! Very, very fun.

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