J.K. Rowling reveals new information on official Robert Galbraith site

Since the revelation almost two weeks ago that J.K. Rowling had penned The Cuckoo’s Calling under a pseudonym, new information about the leak has been revealed almost daily (you can check out MuggleNet’s one-week roundup here!). We’ve heard little from the author herself, besides how utterly disappointed she is that her trust was betrayed and her secret was revealed.

Now, Rowling has updated the official Robert Galbraith author site with new information regarding her choice of pseudonym and the process of writing The Cuckoo’s Calling.

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.

What research did you do to write ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’?

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. When the novel opens, 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 cliched 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.

Of particular interest to fans will be Jo’s revelation that the character of Robin was greatly influenced by Rowling’s own experiences before publishing Harry Potter, and that she was already worried that it would be harder and harder to keep her secret as The Cuckoo’s Calling grew in popularity:

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.

At the point I was ‘outed’, Robert had sold 8500 English language copies across all formats (hardback, eBook, library and audiobook) and received two offers from television production companies. The situation was becoming increasingly complicated, largely because Robert was doing rather better than we had expected him to, but we all still hoped to keep the secret a little longer. Yet Robert’s success during his first three months as a published writer (discounting sales made after I was found out) actually compares favourably with J.K. Rowling’s success over the equivalent period of her career!

Be sure and check out the FAQ section of the Robert Galbraith site to read more!

Jessica J.

I've been making magic at MuggleNet since 2012, when I first joined the staff as a News intern. I've never wavered from the declaration in my childhood journal, circa October 2000: "I LOVE Harry Potter! If I clean my room, my mom says she'll make me a dinner a wizard would love!" Proud Gryffindor; don't hate.