Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has secretly written a new novel under the pen name "Robert Galbraith," the Sunday Times has reported.
Rowling's latest book, the crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling, was released in April to positive reviews. The book tells the story of a war veteran-turned-private eye named Cormoran Strike, who is asked to investigate the mysterious death of a model who falls to her death from a balcony.
"I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience," Rowling said. "It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name." She described her editor at Little, Brown and Company, David Shelley, as "a true partner in crime."
The book's listing and author profile on Little Brown's website confirm that Galbraith is a pseudonym. The fictitious Galbraith's biography states that he is a former plain-clothes Royal Military Police investigator who left the military in 2003 to work in the civilian security industry.
After the news broke, one publishing editor admitted that she had turned down the novel, not realizing that it had been written by one of the world's bestselling authors. "When the book came in, I thought it was perfectly good - it was certainly well written - but it didn't stand out," Orion publishing director Kate Mills told The Telegraph. Rowling's publicist released a statement confirming that the author did not seek special treatment due to her writing legacy. "I can confirm the book was treated like any new novel by a first-time writer," the publicist said. "We are not going into any more detail than that or commenting further."
The second book in the Galbraith series will be published next year.
Incidentally, J.K. Rowling is itself a pen name. The author was born Joanne Rowling, but took on the imaginary middle initial because her publisher "thought that young boys might be wary of a book written by a woman," according to her website.
Update - J.K. Rowling has released a statement about The Cuckoo's Clock:
"I hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience! It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name. The upside of being rumbled is that I can publicly thank my editor David Shelley, who has been a true partner in crime, all those people at Little, Brown who have been working so hard on The Cuckoo's Calling without realising that I wrote it, and the writers and reviewers, both in the newspapers and online, who have been so generous to the novel. And to those who have asked for a sequel, Robert fully intends to keep writing the series, although he will probably continue to turn down personal appearances."