The hype over The Girl on the Train has catapulted author Paula Hawkins into the thick of a film adaption, headed by starlet Emily Blunt, and given her a running start to cannonball into a pool of mounting Benjamins. 100,000 Benjamins last year to be specific (psst that’s $10 million). Hawkins was ranked number nine on Forbes list of richest authors, putting her side by side with Veronica Roth and John Green. This places the author’s income above that of George RR Martin, Dan Brown, Rick Riordan and just about any other author with a net worth hovering around $50 million.
As sales and movie hub-bub continue to rise, Hawkins continues to climb, Yertle the Turtle style I assume, over the heads of countless others. Higher ranking writers like J.K. Rowling (net worth of $1 billion) and James Patterson ($470 million) may want to start clearing the throne of fandom letters and last night’s book-shots; Hawkins in coming in hot. The Girl on the Train has already sold 11 million copies world-wide and with the film release coming this fall, numbers are only expected to skyrocket again.
Upon her sales success this past year, Hawkins shared with the Guardian:
“I’d been worrying for so long about my financial situation, what I was doing with my life, so I felt relief, then fear, with the realization that when something starts to do very well, lots of people are going to read it, and that makes you feel really quite vulnerable.”
Part of the enchantment of her novel is it’s look and feel resembling Gone Girl: the literary sensation turned blockbuster turned literary sensation once again. It tackles the rogue protagonist, unhitched from female tropes, and straddling a line between identity and anonymity, safety and danger. True, it hops on the Gone Girl bandwagon, but it also emulates and exceeds its predecessor according to many. The ‘debut’ novel is by no means a debut for Hawkins, who was commissioned under a pseudonym to write romantic fiction – four novels which got progressively darker until she began writing The Girl on the Train under her own name. This dark tendency seeped into the popularized, matched by her own urgency to make money:
“[I was] Starting to panic. I don’t have a partner so I take care of the mortgage by myself and I was thinking, ‘Oh God, I’m going to have to sell the house, or find a new career.’ I was not in a good place but it was a real spur to get The Girl on the Train right. I had to nail it and do it really well. It really concentrates the mind, that kind of thing. For the six months I was writing it, I didn’t really do anything else.”
The dizzying vertigo effect of Hawkins’ own mental state bleeds into her protagonist Rachel, an alcoholic with deteriorated relationships, moving through the motions of loss and disorientation. Perhaps this sense of real urgency, relayed from Hawkins to Rachel, can take some credit for her skyrocketing sales. If the wide-eyed expressions on the face of fellow commuters I see reading this book says anything, it’s that it sucks you deep into another world; one particularly riveting for its looming proximity to our own. Although Hawkins still seems a bit dazed by her success, it is a well-earned ranking for her incredibly polished writing.
Featured image courtes Mashable.