Say it ain’t so! Arthur Levine, of Harry Potter and His Dark Materials fame, is leaving Scholastic? Arthur A. Levine, the man who brought Harry Potter to the US of A, an early champion of Phillip Pullman’s fantastic first His Dark Material novel The Golden Compass, the dude who Benzinga claims has an imprint backlist “which has produced more than three hundred works of hardcover literary fiction, picture books, and nonfiction for children and teenagers”, my main man, is now leaving Scholastic.
“I’ve had a wonderful run at Scholastic and will greatly miss working here. There are such strengths and so many gifted individuals. But I’m excited to found a company led by a mission to make books reflecting the greatest diversity and the highest standards of artistic excellence.”
I already hear you asking – what’s the name of this new company? We don’t know – it’s unannounced.
As for your second question – the goal of this new company? – the answer is…
They plan to give a voice to a wide range of new authors, putting focus on having “a mix of 75% minority creators, including people of color, indigenous people, and LGBTQ individuals”.
So there is hope. A lot of it actually!
So while J. K. Rowling goes off and makes three more Fantastic Beasts movies, Arthur Levine, the man who brought Harry Potter to the US of A, my main dude, is now dedicating his time in helping minority authors get their voice heard by the public.
‘Riches’ and ‘creative writing’ are not words that many people would associate. Writers are far more notorious for their eccentricities than for their stackloads of cash. But just because something is unlikely doesn’t mean that it’s impossible. Writers can score wild book deals… and some of them do. In the wake of the Obamas’ $65 million book deal, it’s important to remember that the biggest book deals almost always go to celebrities for nonfiction works, whether those are exposés or memoirs. (For example, Hillary Clinton‘s Hard Choices sold for $14m, and Bruce Springsteen‘s Born to Run sold for $10m.) But for all the fiction writers out there… this one’s for you.
1. James Patterson ($100-150 million)
Image Via Express.co.uk
Genre giant James Patterson is easily the most bestselling novelist in the entire world, with 114 published bestsellers and 150 total novels. Patterson, author of The President is Missing (which he co-authored with former POTUS Bill Clinton) has earned his publishers up to $250m per year—over time, that becomes an unthinkably large figure. Just how much money is that? Well, the median home price in the United States is $200,000. $1m would then be the equivalent of 5 houses… so let’s just say Patterson could buy up the whole neighborhood. Patterson’s most stunning book deal topped out at $150m, when he agreed to write seventeen thrillers in a relatively short time period. Of course, many of his works are mostly not his own work—to keep up the relentless pace of his thrillers, Patterson is “more of a brand than a writer” with an army of co-writers.
2. Ken Follett ($50 million)
Image Via Wsj.com
With four bestselling historical fiction works already out there, Ken Follett was a sure thing for publishers looking to make an investment. His Century trilogy (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, & Edge of Eternity) raked in a stunning $50m, the combined total of $16.5m per book. With Edge of Eternityclocking in at 1,000+ pages, it’s incredible that Follett’s work has reached such a wide audience. Follett describes himself as writing books for book lovers—and love is exactly what he gets.
3. J.K. Rowling ($8 million)
Image Via Vanityfair.com
For those of you who are shocked not to see J.K. Rowling topping this list, keep in mind that most of her ‘Harry Potter’ contractual obligations came together well before the series became a pop culture phenomenon. Rowling earned her place on the list (and her whopping $8m) with her first book post-Hogwarts, The Casual Vacancy. The crime thriller marked a departure from her established place in children’s fantasy, but it earned excellent sales… if also mixed reviews. While Rowling doesn’t have as large a net worth as Patterson’s astronomical $700m, she frequently out-earns him on a year-to-year basis. She once had the highest net worth of any author, becoming the first novelist to earn $1 billion from book sales. Thanks to her many charitable donations, she is now a regular millionaire.
4. Tom Wolfe ($7 million)
Image Via Rollingstone.com
Sometimes publishing scores you a hit… but sometimes, it’s a hit-and-miss. Tom Wolfe, now deceased, was one of history’s greatest journalists—genius Cat’s Cradle author Kurt Vonnegut said, “he knows everything.” Wolfe was most renowned for his Bonfire of the Vanities, a portrait of Wall Street greed in 1980s New York. His novel Back to Blood, a portrayal of ambition and corruption in Cuban Miami, caught the attention of the press—but not the attention of his readers. Wolfe gained notoriety when he left his publisher of 42 years for a $7m book deal… an understandable decision, honestly. Despite the advance, Wolfe’s novel only sold 62,000 copies—with some rough math, experts confirm that this means each copy cost the publisher $112. According to the numbers, that makes this a sadder story than Wolfe’s own.
Of course, this is a list of the craziest seven-figure book deals—it’s not a list of the world’s wealthiest authors. John Green rakes in $9m per year from his royalties, but the income didn’t come from one particular deal. It’s also significant that not all deals are publicly available. Many news outlets describe deals in terms of ‘six-figure’ or ‘seven-figure’ without specifying the precise amount. For instance, international fantasy bestseller Cassandra Clare recently got a ‘seven-figure’ deal for her upcoming adult fantasy series, but we don’t know the exact amount. Let’s not forget just how much money $1m actually is—with the median house cost of $200,000, just ONE million could buy 5 houses. Looks like this is how J.K. bought her castle…
Recently, fans got what might have seemed to be (finally) some happy news regarding the upcoming film: Professor McGonagall’s confirmed appearance in the movie! But there’s a major reason why this is a huge mistake…
Image Via Buzzfeed.com
The Crimes of Grindelwald takes place in 1927, which is a problem when you consider this nightmarish timeline mix-up: McGonagall wasn’t born until the 1930s according to J.K. herself! The actress playing McGonagall is thirty-five-year-old Fiona Glascott, meaning that McGonagall would have to be born in the late 1800s to look this age in the movie. By 1927, her actual age is supposed to be a fully mature -8 years old.
Turns out, The Crimes of Grindelwald is filled with crimes against the fans. Yikes!
So it may be that ‘all’s well that ends well,’ but some of these books nearly didn’t! The secret alternate endings of these five popular novels are different from the endings that made it to our bookshelves. (That’s ‘different’ as a synonym for completely bizarre.) Some endings changed the tone of the story in ways the author decided against. Some endings changed other important things, like whether or not anyone would buy the book.
1. The Fault in Our Stars
It’s hard to imagine John Green changing one thing about his devastating hit The Fault in our Stars(besides the title, which would work just as well as Buckets of Our Tears). Actually, Augustus’ death was almost the second most tragic thing about the novel. In a twist that Green himself describes as “epically terrible,” the novel initially ended with Hazel Grace and author Van Houten attempting to murder a drug dealerin order to honor Augustus’ life… knowing that they will likely die (just relatable teenager things). This ending supposedly lasted only forty pages, which begs the question—what? It gets worse. Green also considered using the ending of the novel to explore the Trolley Problem—which, to sum it up, asks whether it’s more morally heinous to let a trolley crush five people or to personally divert the train to crush only one person. His editor admitted later that she “[couldn’t] tell whether or not it [was] a joke.” It wasn’t.
2. The Dream Thieves
Maggie Stiefvater‘s Raven Cycle series stands as one of the most positively critically reviewed YA series of all time. Its second book, The Dream Thieves, is particularly rife with the dark (best friends replaced with subservient clones) and the delightful (every possible use of ‘Dick’ as a nickname for Richard). In one earlier draft, troubled protagonist Ronan enters into amagical drag racewith distinctly-more-troubled antagonist Kavinsky—which, contextually, is not as strange as it sounds. The two subsequently have their magic race up the side of a mountain, and in a reckless but astoundingly unsurprising move, Kavinsky drives his car off the edge of a cliff. Stiefvater herself summarizes the whole plot as: “Fireball! Death!” This is also an excellent description of the novel’s actual ending. However, this earlier draft lacks the redemptive elements and positive LGBT representation of the rewrite—especially since the rewrite is also full of cars and danger.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
One of the most chilling lines in the Harry Potter universe reads: neither can live while the other survives. It would then logically follow that… to use J.K.’s own words… neither can live while the other survives. So it doesn’t exactly add up that J.K. Rowling almost concluded her series with Voldemort AND Harry surviving. In one strange version of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ending, the spirits of Voldemort’s dead parents appear during their showdown to comfort Harry and turn Voldemort into a child. When Voldy tries to zap Harry with his final curse, it rebounds, freezing him as a living statue. If you’re wondering how the rebounded spell doesn’t kill him, you can keep on wondering—there is no real explanation. Fortunately, we have the original standoff between Harry and Voldemort, as well as all the powerful scenes and lines that come with it.
4. Thirteen Reasons Why
Especially after its TV debut, Thirteen Reasons Whyis almost universally recognizable as a story of the tragic suicide of a high school student and the following series of upsetting confessional tapes detailing fellow students’ contributions to her death. But what if Hannah didn’t die? According to author Jay Asher, that’s exactly what almost happened. As the near-suicide of a close relative inspired Asher’s work, he considered that Hannah might also live. In the end, he decided against it. He felt that Hannah’s survival meant fewer consequences for the students who tormented her, as well as lower stakes surrounding the issue. Asher explained: “it felt false for this particular story and for the seriousness of the issue. If someone goes through with a suicide, there are no second chances for anyone involved.”
We all recognize George Orwell‘s 1984 as the classic behind the phrase “Big Brother is watching.” Fewer people know that this grim tale once had an alternate ending—one that made the ending tonally more optimistic (not an easy feat, given how depressing this story gets). Free-thinking Winston undergoes torture in order to destroy any part of him that might rebel against the novel’s totalitarian government. But just before the end, he has a brief nervous break and thinks to himself: 2 + 2 = 5. This signifies the extent to which Winston, wholly indoctrinated, now accepts Big Brother’s lies. However, Orwell’s first edition tells a different story. There, the sentence ends with 2 +2 = (without the number 5), implying that Winston manages to hold onto some sense of self and that resistance is real. One letter subtly but unmistakably changes the meaning of the entire novel… and makes it a whole lot sadder.
Featured Image Via The-toast.com. All In-Text Images Via Amazon.com
At a prestigious Indian law school, the Harry Potter franchise is more than a work of fiction. Applying the legal conflicts of the story to real life situations, the National University of Judicial Sciences’ course hopes to encourage creative thinking in aspiring lawyers. The course, entitled “An interface between Fantasy Fiction Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling’s Potterverse,” is not the first university-level course to cover the popular book series, but it is one of the first in a law school setting. India has an enormous Harry Potter fanbase, and in fact, the only other Harry Potter law course is the brainchild of an NUJS alumni.
Image via bbc.com
NUJS Kolkata’s own professor, Shouvik Kumar Guha, designed the course to prevent student boredom in what can be a dry and repetitive law school curriculum, a program that lasts for five (sometimes very long) years. Though he considered using real political situations as the practical basis for the course, Guha realized that “it is not necessary that all my students will share my political leanings.” A fantasy world was the perfect solution, enabling political discussion without the controversy and heated emotions of real political debates.
Image via indiatimes.com
While none of the following are law schools, a number of American universities also have Harry Potter themed courses analyzing the societal and political implications ofJ.K. Rowling‘s magical universe. Appalachian State University offers acourse studying the ways in which gender, race, and multiculturalism in popular fiction relate to the historical context of the real world. Lawrence University also offers a course analyzing the political implications of the series. Though other British and American universities teach Harry Potter material, most do so from a literary perspective not extending past the confines of the book.