Sunday, September 30, 2012

Crystal Ball Time

Today's special guest is the lovely Catriona McPherson. Welcome to Type M!

I’m writing this on Wednesday the 26th of September, in other words NewJKRowling’s Eve, and I’m not ashamed to say I’m very excited about tomorrow.  My copy of The Casual Vacancy is ordered, from The Avid Reader in downtown Davis, CA, and after I’ve picked it up I’m going to sit right down, in the middle of the day, and start reading.  

By the time this blogpost goes live, I’ll have finished it, so will millions of others and the world will have spoken.  So I thought I’d chip in with a spot of prognostication.

It was great to be around while the publishing phenomenon of Harry Potter unfolded, wasn’t it?  It was fun.  Remember when Amazon’s headers were: books, DVD, music, household and Harry Potter?  What writer could fail to thrill at that happening in a fellow writer’s life?  And then there was the time when a crowd of us from the Harrogate crime writing festival went to watch the midnight launch of The Half-Blood Prince.  What better celebration of the joy of books could there be than all those little Yorkshire witches and wizards up past their bedtimes, fizzing with anticipation?  There was more enthusiasm on that street outside Waterstone’s than you could find in the conference bar at midnight on a Thursday, let me tell you.

And now it’s happening again.  JK Rowling is #1 and #2 (hardback and Kindle) in the Amazon charts on both sides of the Atlantic before the book is even published.  I can’t even imagine how happy that must make you. 

So here are my predictions – in advance, like all good predictions should be.  Don’t you hate how people are always showing, after things happen, that Nostradamus predicted them?  Anyone can get a name for being an oracle that way.

First, it’ll be really, really good.  She’s a born storyteller, like Stephen King and Dorothy Whipple.  Yes, she over-uses the word vast and yes, of course, the epilogue of the last Harry Potter was like something at the end of a rom-com, but come on!  My prediction is that The Casual Vacancy is going to be one of the best stories I read this year.

Second, it’ll be full of easter eggs.  Pagford, the village where it’s set was where Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane went after their wedding. So we can look forward to some charming nods to Rowling’s literary heroes, similar to the one at the beginning of The Philosopher’s Stone, when Albus Dumbledore’s eyes were described as “light, bright and sparkling” (like Jane Austen’s prose).

Third, I predict, with a spit and polish of my crystal ball, that one or two people might drop in on Amazon to share their thoughts.  The reviews will cluster at the extremities: a lot of one-stars and five-stars and a smattering of two- three- and four-stars.  The five star reviews will gush and the one-star reviews will sneer.  The three star reviewers will be so pleased with themselves they might forget to mention the book at all.

Fourth, someone will be offended.  Or at least will claim to be.  Actually they’ll be – to use a good Scots expression – not suited.  If JK Rowling’s adult novel has any sex, swearing, politics or violence, a lot of people are going to be deeply not suited.  She’s a children’s writer!  And after she had the common decency to find her own three children under a gooseberry bush, now she goes and spoils it all!

Fifth, every newspaper and magazine is going to review it, but some of them will review it undercover of drawling about how amusing it is that everyone else is reviewing it.  (Like how the Guardian writes about the Kardashians.)  All of these newspaper reviews will be considered, temperate, and fair but the comments on the online editions will be a pit of cackling madness.

Sixth, it will take less than a month for the first copy to appear in the Yolo County SPCA Thrift Store.  A related prediction: there will be one in the Edinburgh Oxfam Bookshop by next Friday.

The glass grows cloudy; the veil has fallen; these are my predictions for NewJKRowling Day.


Author of the Macavity, UK Dagger and UK Theakston’s Old Peculier nominated Dandy Gilver mysteries, set in Scotland in the 1920s. St Martin’s Press launched the series in the US in 2011 with The Proper Treatment of Bloodstains and the latest, An Unsuitable Day for A Murder, came out in June. The UK is a book ahead: A Bothersome Number of Corpses was launched there in July.  Catriona lives in northern California with two black cats and a scientist. Check out Dandy’s world at and Catriona’s at


Hannah Dennison said...

A great post! I am interested in what you thought about J.K. Rowling's new book when you've finished it. I am a huge fan of hers.

Catriona McPherson said...

Have you read it, Hannah? I've just turned the last page. And prediction 1 is borne out - fantastic story. Such compelling characters - hilarious, heartbreaking, loathable - and such a complete world. Three cheers, two thumbs up, five stars.

Catriona McPherson said...

And now I've had a look at the Amazon reviews. Right again. Tons of (not suited - right again) one stars and gushing five stars.

But - looking at the review round-up of other reviews in the Guardian (oh, look at that - right again) I see I was wrong about temperate fairness in the body of the review. I forgot about the Daily (Hate) Mail. For all your cackling madness needs!

Read a few of the one-stars. 'No sympathetic characters"??? What about Samantha, Gaia, Andrew, *Krystal and Terri* for crying out loud?

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