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Rowling to publish adult novel

27 February 2012

The publishing world has been electrified by the news that J K Rowling has written her first adult novel and it is expected to be published later this year, although there's no title or date yet.

Some observers have always felt that Rowling would produce another book. She does after all give every appearance of being a compulsive writer, the kind of author who always has plots running round her head. She has made a fresh start for her adult books, with her new agent Neil Blair not having an auction but selling the book to Little Brown in the UK, where her editor will be publisher David Shelley and its counterpart in the US, where he will be Michael Pietsch.

It's only a few months since Rowling announced the opening of her new website, Pottermore, and that she would be going with a new agent, Neil Blair of the Blair Partnership Neil Blair told The Bookseller: "We didn't auction. J K Rowling's choice wasn't about money but rather led by a desire to choose creatively how to pursue the next stage of her career with a new genre and new direction". Bloomsbury have illustrated editions of the Harry Potter books still to come, but it must be a blow nonetheless that they have lost her new adult novel.

Everyone assumes that Rowling will carry her audience with her. Many young people grew up on the Harry Potter books and they also had an enormous cross-over audience amongst adult readers. So the book will of course be a huge international bestseller. A spokesman for Waterstone's said: "The news that a JK Rowling book is imminent is electrifying. She has an incomparably large fanbase, and the potential audience for this book is staggering. Our guess is she has written a mystery story - the mystery for booksellers and readers now is what is it called and when will it be published?"

Rumours have swirled round London for years about the Harry Potter author's problems with Bloomsbury and certainly she has decided to move on, but perhaps that's just because she wants a fresh start. Certainly the split with her agent Christopher Little has only recently been settled.

It may have taken Rowling some time to get past Harry, especially when there has been the lawsuit about plagiarism, which was dismissed by the court, and other bits of distraction, such as when she complained about harassment by the paparazzi after an attempt to smuggle a message to her in her daughter's school lunch-box.

It seems to have been an emotional moment for the author when she completed the last Harry Potter book: "It is true to say that finishing writing Harry, I have only cried that much, ever in my life, when my mum died. I've never cried for a man like I've cried for Harry Potter."

We can all agree with the Daily Telegraph that it will be "one of the most anticipated literary launches in years".