NEW YORK — Adult fans of J.K. Rowling can rejoice: She has a new novel coming, for grownups.
The kids will have to wait and see.
The author of the mega-selling "Harry Potter" series has an agreement with Little, Brown in the United States and Britain to release her first adult novel, the publishers announced Thursday. The title, release date and details about the book, long rumored, were not announced. A neighbor of Rowling's in Edinburgh, author Ian Rankin, tweeted Thursday that he thinks Rowling has written a mystery novel.
"Wouldn't it be funny if J.K. Rowling's first novel for adults turned out to be a crime story set in Edinburgh?" Rankin wrote. "My word yes."
Her seventh and final Potter story came out in 2007, and in recent years the British author has said that she was working on an adult book and on a Potter encyclopedia. Rowling's Potter books, which broke sales records around the world, were published by Bloomsbury in Britain and Scholastic in the U.S. Rowling will now share the same publisher with Stephenie Meyer, whose "Twilight" series at least partially filled the gap opened by the conclusion of the Potter stories.
"Although I've enjoyed writing it every bit as much, my next book will be very different to the Harry Potter series, which has been published so brilliantly by Bloomsbury and my other publishers around the world," Rowling, 46, said in a statement released by Little, Brown. "The freedom to explore new territory is a gift that Harry's success has brought me, and with that new territory it seemed a logical progression to have a new publisher. I am delighted to have a second publishing home in Little, Brown, and a publishing team that will be a great partner in this new phase of my writing life."
Rowling's agent, Neil Blair, would not disclose financial details of the deal but said there had been no auction. He said Thursday that Rowling was remaining with Bloomsbury in Britain for the Harry Potter books.
"As her new book is for a different audience, and marks a new literary direction for her, it made sense to separate the two and for her new book to be launched by a different publisher," said Blair.
Blair became Rowling's literary agent last year when she left the Christopher Little Literary Agency, where Blair had worked. Bloomsbury said its 15-year relationship with Rowling "remains stronger than ever" — and new editions of the seven novels were on the way. Some 450 million copies of the seven Potter stories are in print and the books have been translated into 74 languages. A billion-dollar movie franchise, starring Daniel Radcliffe as the young wizard, ended last year.
"We are pleased to announce that as part of our long term strategy for Harry Potter we intend to publish illustrated editions of all seven Harry Potter books in a rolling program from 2013 onwards in addition to our partnership on e-books with the Pottermore website," the publisher said in a statement. In the U.S., Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good noted that Scholastic didn't publish adult books.
"We will continue to publish her children's books in the U.S.," Good said Thursday.
Any Rowling book would seem a guaranteed million seller, although it's questionable that her new novel will have the same mass appeal as Potter. Adult authors from E.B. White to Sherman Alexie have nicely managed the transition to writing for young people but, once a writer is defined as a children's author, the transition can be tricky. Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne, a successful playwright in his early years, once confessed that he was forced to say "goodbye to all that" after his beloved books about the bear and friends. Margaret Wise Brown, author of the classic "Goodnight Moon," tried for years to write stories for The New Yorker.
Daniel Handler of "Lemony Snicket" fame and Ann Brashares, author of the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" novels, are among the recent popular writers for children who have had limited success as adult writers.
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