You may think you know detectives but you've never met one quite like Strike

ABOUT
ROBERT GALBRAITH

Robert Galbraith is a
pseudonym for J.K. Rowling,
author of the
Harry Potter series and
The Casual Vacancy.

Robert Galbraith will be taking part in the
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing
Festival in Harrogate
,
on 18th July at 7:30pm.

J.K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith,
will be in conversation with bestselling
crime writer Val McDermid.

The
Silkworm

Robert Galbraith's second Cormoran Strike
Novel due to be published 19th June 2014

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

US edition, Little, Brown

UK edition

"A scintillating novel set in the world of models, rappers, fashion designers, druggies and illicit liaisons."

The Times

"Just once in a while a private detective emerges who captures the public imagination in a flash. And here is one who might well do that . . . [Galbraith] has a delightful touch for evoking London and capturing a new hero."

Daily Mail

"In a rare feat, Galbraith combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime . . . Readers will hope to see a lot more of this memorable sleuthing team."

Publishers Weekly

The
Cuckoo's
Calling

When a troubled model falls to her death from a snow-covered Mayfair balcony, it is assumed that she has committed suicide. However, her brother has his doubts, and calls in private investigator Cormoran Strike to look into the case.

Strike is a war veteran – wounded both physically and psychologically – and his life is in disarray. The case gives him a financial lifeline, but it comes at a personal cost: the more he delves into the young model’s complex world, the darker things get – and the closer he gets to terrible danger . . .

A gripping, elegant mystery steeped in the atmosphere of London – from the hushed streets of Mayfair to the backstreet pubs of the East End to the bustle of Soho – The Cuckoo’s Calling is a remarkable book. Introducing Cormoran Strike, this is the acclaimed first crime novel by J.K. Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is sold by all leading retailers.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why have you chosen to write these crime novels and why under a pseudonym?

I’ve always loved reading detective fiction. Most of the Harry Potters stories are whodunits at heart (Order of the Phoenix is more of a why-did-he), but I’ve wanted to try the real thing for a long time.

As for the pseudonym, I was yearning to go back to the beginning of a writing career in this new genre, to work without hype or expectation and to receive totally unvarnished feedback. It was a fantastic experience and I only wish it could have gone on a little longer.

Why have you chosen to write them as a man? Did it influence your writing in anyway?

I certainly wanted to take my writing persona as far away as possible from me, so a male pseudonym seemed a good idea. I am proud to say, though, that when I ‘unmasked’ myself to my editor David Shelley who had read and enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling without realizing I wrote it, one of the first things he said was ‘I never would have thought a woman wrote that.’ Apparently I had successfully channeled my inner bloke!

Why the name Robert Galbraith? Do you have anything to say to all those Robert Galbraiths out there?

I can only hope all the real Robert Galbraiths out there will be as forgiving as the real Harry Potters have been. I must say, I don’t think their plight is quite as embarrassing.

I chose Robert because it is one of my favourite men’s names, because Robert F Kennedy is my hero and because, mercifully, I hadn’t used it for any of the characters in the Potter series or The Casual Vacancy.

Galbraith came about for a slightly odd reason. When I was a child, I really wanted to be called ‘Ella Galbraith’, and I’ve no idea why. I don’t even know how I knew that the surname existed, because I can’t remember ever meeting anyone with it. Be that as it may, the name had a fascination for me. I actually considered calling myself L A Galbraith for the Strike series, but for fairly obvious reasons decided that initials were a bad idea.

Odder still, there was a well-known economist called J K Galbraith, something I only remembered by the time it was far too late. I was completely paranoid that people might take this as a clue and land at my real identity, but thankfully nobody was looking that deeply at the author’s name.

Why did you choose for the “author” to have a military background?

It was the easiest and most plausible reason for Robert to know how the Special Investigation Branch operates and investigates. Another reason for making him a military man working in the civilian security industry was to give him a solid excuse not to appear in public or provide a photograph.

What research did you do to write the Cormoran Strike novels?

I interviewed serving and ex-military people for as long as they would let me bother them. In fact, all my factual information came from military sources. I know a number of soldiers (both serving and veterans) and I’m close to two people in particular who were incredibly generous as I researched my hero’s background (they also helped me construct a CV for Robert). One of these friends is from the SIB. So while Strike himself is entirely fictional, his career and the experiences he’s had are based on factual accounts of real soldiers.

At the start of the series, Strike is seriously down on his luck. One of the reviews I treasured most (before Robert was unmasked) said that my hero faced his situation ‘with resolve, instead of clichéd self-destruction.’ I gave Strike many of the qualities of the military people to whom I am closest: strength of character, black humour, resilience and ingenuity.

I did a vast amount of research on below knee amputations and I also visited a lot of London pubs. The research involved in creating a contemporary novel was a huge part of the pleasure.

Why set the novels in London? Why not Edinburgh?

I love Edinburgh and the city makes a stunning and tempting backdrop for crime fiction, but I felt that there were enough compelling literary detectives pounding its streets already.

Both my parents were Londoners and I spent a lot of time there during my childhood and teens, visiting relatives. I lived there in my twenties and still love the place. You could write about London all your life and not exhaust the plots, settings or history.

Why the title The Cuckoo’s Calling?

The title is taken from the mournful poem by Christina Rossetti called, simply, A Dirge, which is a lament for one who died too young. The title also contains a subtle reference to another aspect of the plot, but as I can’t explain what it is without ruining the story, I’ll let readers work that one out.

Can you tell us a bit more about Strike and why you chose to make him the character he is? And his relationship with Robin, which is intriguing?

Apart from being an ex-military policeman, my hero is the illegitimate son of a very famous man whom he has only met twice. Strike gives me a way to talk in an objective, de-personalised way about the oddities that come with fame. While in the army, Strike had the anonymity he craved; now that he has left, he runs into people who make a lot of assumptions about him based purely on his parentage. The character’s surname came from a real (but deceased) man mentioned in a slim book about Cornwall. His Christian name, which was a gift from his flaky groupie of a mother, is unusual and a recurring irritation to him as people normally get it wrong; we sense that he would much rather be called Bob. Strike is a brilliant but damaged man who is still clinging tight to one or two principles that he holds sacred. He is trying to scrape a living while tolerating physical hardships that to many civilians would seem unbearable, and by maintaining a discipline that many might dispense with in his situation.

Strike’s assistant in this case, Robin, is a temporary secretary who arrives due to an oversight (he was under the impression that he had cancelled his contract with the temping agency, having no funds to pay). Robin has hidden her lifelong ambition to engage in detective work from everyone around her, including her fiancé. She’s thrilled to find herself working with a private detective, but their relationship is not, initially, promising.

I love Robin quite as much as I love Strike, which is saying something. She grew largely out of my own experiences as a temp, long ago in London where I could always make rent between jobs because I could type 100 words a minute due to writing fiction in my spare time.

Robin initially finds Strike rather unattractive and unsympathetic, between his surliness and his ‘pube-like’ hair, but soon starts to admire his work ethic and intelligence. Meanwhile Strike, aware of his susceptibility as a newly single and isolated man, is determined not to become over-fond or reliant on this helpful and undeniably sexy girl. The resulting relationship, with its many awkwardnesses and a slowly emerging friendship, was a lot of fun to write.

Why did you choose to donate your royalties for The Cuckoo's Calling to ABF The Soldiers' Charity?

I hoped that I might be able to keep the secret of Robert’s identity hidden much longer, but I always knew that if and when I was discovered I would ask for my royalties to be paid to ABF The Soldier’s Charity. This is partly as a thank you to the people who helped with research, but also because researching and writing the character of Strike has given me an even greater appreciation and understanding of exactly how much this charity does for serving soldiers, ex-servicemen and their families, and how much that support is needed.

Where in the world has the book been published?

The Cuckoo's Calling will be translated in 37 languages which is the number to date and continues to grow.

Have you previously signed any copies as Robert Galbraith? How do we know they are genuine?

Yes, I was asked by the publisher to sign a few copies of The Cuckoo’s Calling as Robert Galbraith that were made available for sale around publication. While we can't verify whether any particular book currently on eBay etc is genuine, any future books I sign in this way will be authenticated. My Robert Galbraith signature is distinctive and consistent; I spent a whole weekend practicing it to make sure.

Was revealing the true identity of Robert Galbraith not simply an elaborate marketing campaign to help boost sales?

When I first answered this question I could only say that I neither planned nor desired the revelation. Without knowing how it had happened, I was more disappointed than angry when I was first outed.

Although Robert had only been in print for three months, he had sold 8500 copies across all formats (hardback, ebook, library and audiobook), reached number one on the UK audiobook charts and received two offers from television production companies. Robert’s success during this period compared favourably with J.K. Rowling’s success during the equivalent period of her published career and I was very proud of him!

When the journalist from The Sunday Times approached us, I leapt to the erroneous conclusion that someone from one of the interested TV production companies had become suspicious. Not only was this first-time author averse to turning up for meetings about a screen adaptation, there were no photographs of him anywhere and he happened to share an agent and publisher with J.K. Rowling!

However, late in the evening of the day that the Sunday Times ran the story, it emerged that somebody I had never heard of had revealed my secret on Twitter. There followed a very unpleasant few days during which I was forced to wonder which of the tiny number of people I had confided in could possibly have passed the information to someone who would Tweet it to the world. At no point did I consider as a possible source a lawyer from a firm of solicitors from whom I had obviously assumed I could expect total confidentiality. The revelation when it came was a huge shock and a deep disappointment.

My plan to write under a pseudonym was of long standing and while I did not have the time I had hoped for, it was wonderful while it lasted. I enjoyed a long period of writing and researching without pressure or expectation and it was wonderful to receive feedback from publishers, reviewers and readers under a different name.

Will you continue to write as Robert Galbraith? Will there be more books with Cormoran Strike in them?

Yes, I am looking forward to writing more Cormoran Strike novels as Robert.