Lethal White: Graham Norton Interview

The Presence this morning did a radio interview with Graham Norton, the celebrated BBC2 talk show host, in her Robert Galbraith persona. She talked about Lethal White. Sort of. Three quick notes —

(1) Graham Norton, the UK Oprah? I said above that Graham Norton is “celebrated” but I had not heard of him until yesterday. Fortunately the Times of London has done a lengthy profile of him this week, an article which you can read in exchange for your email address. Norton, it turns out, has been doing a celebrity talk show program for twenty plus years, likes Americans, and has written two memoirs and two novels, the latter quite good if winning prizes is any indication. This appearance by Rowling as Galbraith was the first ‘push’ the author has made for the latest Cormoran Strike novel, Lethal White, and is at least the UK equivalent of her ‘Today’ show appearance for Crimes of Grindelwald and her Lumos chat with Whoopi Goldberg.

(2) Clickbait Queen Rowling, even as Robert Galbraith her second pseudonym (‘J. K. Rowling’ being the first; she is legally and what passes for real life ‘Joanne Rowling Murray’), is internet gold. Anything she does or says is almost immediately written up for posting online as sure-thing traffic generators. Both the BBC and The Telegraph, consequently, have already posted summaries and quotations from the Graham Norton interview this morning. I have not been able to listen to the actual interview but we have some idea of what was said from these postings.

(3) Cinderella Story, Cormoran Style It seems, alas, that there was very little discussion of Lethal White, the ‘structure and style’ of crime writing and these four Strike books in particular, or about their relation to the Harry Potter books. This may be (?) a function of few people, to include Norton, having read Lethal White and being able to follow an inside-baseball conversation along those lines. As likely as that is, I fear it also reflects that we have a new ‘groove’ for Rowling interviews.

As we saw on the ‘Today’ interview, we are still obliged in an interview with Rowling about her Wizarding World projects to do a lengthy review of her single-mother-on-the-dole Cinderella story. In her Lumos talk, too, Whoopi Goldberg asked the standard question and received the set answers to how Rowling became involved with the cause of institutionalized children. Now with Norton Graham, we see the Galbraith-Cormoran-Strike interview block we have heard before and will probably be hearing again and again, namely the story of why Rowling chose to write under a different name, how she was outed, etc.

She did repeat the story about the BBC coming to her people about doing a Strike teevee adaptation before she was outed, a tale I have said previously seemed remarkably unlikely (Rowling’s Bronte Studios had just done an adaptation of Casual Vacancy for the BBC). If repetition is a sign of veracity — and of course it isn’t — then there may be something to it. If, like her several pre-outing bold-faced denials that she was writing crime fiction, saying it over and over is just her hope of being believed, so be it.

If you were able to listen to the Graham Norton interview, please do share in the comment boxes below what the click-bait articles about it missed. And even if you didn’t hear it, what do you think of the idea that Rowling now has a Cormoran Strike Interview formula to go along with her Harry Potter and Lumos schticks? Are we present at the creation of a new Rowling meme we will be reading forever after? Thanks for sharing your thoughts either way, here or on Twitter at @HogwartsProf!


  1. Kelly Loomis says

    It doesn’t surprise me this was a softball interview. He has a tv show that is much like our late night “talk” shows in the US with celebrity guests. I enjoy watching clips of certain guests that are suggested on my YouTube feed. But, they tend to be on the same level as any other late night show. Does he do these radio interviews often? And does he tout them as being more serious and academic!

  2. Prof Beatrice Groves has written me to say that she has listened to the program and will share with us her thoughts in a Guest Post soon. Three cheers!

  3. Joanne Gray says

    If anyone is clicking on Mr. Norton’s interview you will want to go to the very end–the last 30 minutes to listen (she’s the very last guest). As far as I know Graham Norton does a regular radio program as well as TV. I first caught his TV show years ago on BBC America and I really think he is a great host–very personable. The British version (at least his) of a talk show is more participatory than our rather static shows. The set is arranged to have a more inclusive feeling between guests and audience.

    The real take-away for me in the interview was her statement about having the plots to book 5 and 6 of the Cormoran series but beyond that not (it sounded to me) quite as settled and ready to go. She also answered some listeners questions that Graham asked her. One question was: Do you ever, as you are writing, change direction on a character or plot? She said no because she never starts writing until she has everything concerning the characters and the plot firmly planned to where it needs to be before she begins. (These aren’t direct quotes because I didn’t take notes–so I’m glad Prof. Groves will be posting about it more thoroughly.)

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