On two separate occasions on the weekend, I read about two different authors being heralded as “the new J.K. Rowling”. This makes me uneasy. In my opinion, no-one, ever, no matter how good they are should be compared to someone as popular and well-known as J.K. Rowling. It’s like being heralded as the new Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, or Harper Lee or George Orwell or J.D Salinger… I could go on …
It really does set that author up to be compared to well-known, much-loved and admired author Which makes it difficult for the author that is being compared to someone so respected, be it Dickens of Rowling. Especially as both of these authors are relatively new. One more so than the other. The two authors I read this about were Samantha Shannon, author of The Bone Season, and Veronica Roth, author of the Divergent series.
The reason this statement makes me feel so uncomfortable is, imagine, just imagine being a brand new or relatively new author who has just had their first best seller, your book or books are being reviewed by exciting, prestigious critics and reviewers. Receiving good acclaim from your book could potentially set you up for life as an author. Then, people start making such a strong claim, that you could possibly be the next J.K. Rowling. This is HUGE. Whether you like her or not, it is undeniable how well-known, successful and respected she is. Then, imagine trying to live up to such a claim! Being such a huge J.K. Rowling fan myself, that would actually destroy me. There are so many Rowling fans out there, that would then judge your book based on how similar or dissimilar it is to the Harry Potter books.
I noticed this in the article I read about Samantha Shannon in The Guardian as well as in several different reviews on Goodreads. Many comments were from people saying how unlike the Harry Potter books and J.K. Rowling’s writing they though The Bone Season was. What makes this one hit so close to home is that Samantha Shannon is my age! This makes me equally happy and depressed. Happy for Samantha Shannon and depressed that I don’t have a best-selling novel and seven book deal with Bloomsbury.
Yep. Seven. Book. Deal.
I’m so jealous. But also in awe.
I own The Bone Season as an e-book, and I bought a physical copy for my boyfriend for Christmas. We’re planning on reading it together, come February. To say I’m excited is an understatement. I’ve been eyeing off The Bone Season for MONTHS. Even though I own it, I keep looking at it whenever I see a copy. Today at work, I kept picking it up and looking at it, even one of my colleagues has even noticed! He said “that book really draws your eye doesn’t it?!” And it totally does. It has such a great cover too.
|Look how pretty it is :)|
The article I saw on Veronica Roth was in the Sydney Morning Herald’s entertainment section, Spectrum. The front cover had a photo of Veronica Roth and the words ‘Is Veronica Roth the next J.K. Rowling?’ next to her. Granted, the actual article only mentions Rowling when Roth is asked if she would like to follow Rowling in pursuing adult fiction after having written young adult fiction. The online version of the article doesn’t actually have any title claiming Roth to be the new J.K. Rowling, so that’s something. Still, it annoyed me, seeing it on the cover of Spectrum. Veronica Roth, who is now 25, was also of a similar age to Samantha Shannon when Divergent was released a couple of years ago. So the comparisons were funny to see, both on the same day!
Mostly, what I mean to say is, if at my age, I published a bestselling novel like both Shannon and Roth have, I would hate to be compared to J.K. Rowling, or be heralded as being “the new J.K. Rowling”, as I do not think I could handle the pressure or the critics comparing me to someone so admired in the literary world. I do however, wish Samantha Shannon and Veronica Roth all the luck in the world! Even though they hardly need it as their books are all doing spectacularly :)