Ian Rankin and Cormoran Strike

​​​​​​​For serious readers and fans of Robert Galbraith’s ‘Cormoran Strike’ mysteries, it’s been a busy week. There have been a relative flood of stories about the three novels because of the ‘Strike’ BBC1 television show premiere in advance and to promote the 27 August broadcast of the first ‘Cuckoo’s Calling’ episodes. No news about the publication date of the fourth novel, ‘Lethal White,’ but I’m hopeful, even confident that the five ‘Strike’ adaptations of the first two novels being broadcast this month and next are preamble to ‘White’s rollout in October or at the holidays.
My thoughts this week have been about Ian Rankin, the Edinburgh writer of detective fiction. His only relationship with the Cormoran Strike stories seems to be the kerfuffle he caused in 2007 when he told a book festival in his and Rowling’s adopted home-city that his wife had seen Jo Rowling scribbling away at a murder mystery at their neighborhood Starbucks (back then Rowling lived on the same street as Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith, which avenue became known as ‘Writer’s Block’). The Presence denied it and Rankin said he’d been joking.
That only became interesting in 2011 when Rowling signed with Little, Brown and specifically with an editor who specialized in working with very successful writers of detective fiction. Because the world didn’t know that Casual Vacancy was in the works, The Guardian speculated that her first post Potter novel would be a detective piece, as Rankin had suggested. Rowling denied this and said that the rumor started because she and Rankin had discussed how much whodunnit atmosphere there is in the Hogwarts Saga. Her representatives at the time, Christopher Little, said rumors that she was writing crime fiction were “unfounded.”
Which wasn’t true, of course. The rumors started in 2012 because of the editor she had made a deal with and the 2007 comments were about Rankin’s wife and what she had supposedly seen. And Christopher Little, though he didn’t know it, had already been passed over for Neil Blair as Rowling’s agent and may very well have been unaware of what she was writing. Still, a non-story.
Here are three other notes about Rankin and Rowling beyond this not-really-news story:

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BBC1 ‘Strike’ and the Canon Question

In my conversation last week with Oxford’s Beatrice Groves at the Potter Pundits Summer School live webinar, we were able to answer all the questions the global audience in attendance asked as well as many of the ones I was sent beforehand by those who couldn’t be present in the virtual classroom. You can watch the replay here on YouTube.
Only one Cormoran Strike point came up in a conversation focused on the Hogwarts Saga, one about canon. The question was about whether the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films should be considered Harry Potter canon. Prof Groves said, no, only the books are canon (she restricts it to literary canon and the books are fixed no matter what the author says or writes later about it). She allowed, however, that ‘fandom canon’ included everything an author writes so, as Rowling wrote the screenplay for ‘Beasts,’ it might be considered canon in a way.
Enter ‘Strike,’ the BBC1 adaptation of the Peg-legged Private Eye’s mysteries.

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JKR’s New Swan Twitter Feed ‘Header’

For those of you who follow J. K. Rowling’s twitter feed (12 million folks worldwide), you may have noticed that the ‘header’ picture has changed again. Rowling has said these changes reflect her current thinking and previous pictures have fostered significant conversation.

The picture today is of a swan. I think this can be taken in two ways, both reflecting on Lethal White.

The first I thought of was the alchemical symbolism of it. [Read more…]

BBC1 ‘Strike’ Trailer and Clips

First thoughts: Grainger is a great match for Robin in appearance, inflection, and seriousness.

Burke as Strike? No doubt he is an excellent actor who is going to give this his all, but thespian skills and earnestness cannot make short, handsome, and svelte seem huge, ugly, and fat. For book readers, that’s always going to grate.

But he commands attention, that’s for sure. I listened ten times to the trailer’s closing exchange with Robin as he leaves the office and I never understood what he said. “I’m a boozer”? Must be the biscuit (cookie) he’s eating.

Guy Some seemingly tall, conventional, even straight, and definitely in a business suit? At least he’s black.

John Bristow in these snips doesn’t appear pathetic or buck-toothed but the actors playing Cyprian May, Lady Bristow, Ciarra Porter, Eric Wordle, and Rochelle Onifade look promising.

Your thoughts?

Seven Questions for ‘Strike’ TV Talent

I was asked by my friends at MuggleNet for questions to ask “the talent” of the BBC teevee show Strike which premieres tomorrow. Here are the seven questions I sent in after polling the HogwartsProfessor talent. What would you have asked?

(1) Cormoran Strike is an imposing physical presence who is not handsome; he’s described as a hulk (not hunk!) who has “pube hair” and looks like a heavyweight boxer resembling Beethoven. Why in the world did you choose Tom Burke, a beautiful man who is relatively short and decidedly svelte, to play this part? You’ve cast a brilliant actor and leopard to play the part of a rhino, no?

(2) The Strike fandom, small as it is relative to the Kingdom of Potter, reads these mysteries as wonderfully satisfying mysteries in themselves and as Rowling commentaries on the parallel Potter books and her experiences as a writer and celebrity. Have you in your study of these books to prepare for the making of these series discussed the latter amongst yourselves?

(3) Rowling is definitely writing the series as she did Harry Potter with respect to writing books that also serve as chapters in the larger, over-arching mystery. Instead of the back story about the Dark Lord, of course, here we are learning book by book, more about the death of Strike’s mother Leda, the involvement of his father Jonny Rokeby the rock star, Robin’s past and her relationship with Matt, Cormoran’s history with Mad Charlotte, and information about the explosion in Afghanistan that took his leg. Rowling famously shared Snape’s back story with Alan Rickman so he knew where his character was headed and what his motivations were; has she tipped her hand to any of you?

(4) Why teevee? No knock on the quality of small screen production values, which now are as good or better than cinema, but there’s so much more of an audience globally for films and it’s not as if Rowling’s works have not been successfully adapted into blockbusters. Any idea why the Rowling team elected to go small when going blockbuster large would have meant exciting millions more potential readers about the series? [Read more…]