Should Harper Lee’s Novel Be Published?

 harper lee, HarperCollins, To Kill A Mockingbird  Comments Off on Should Harper Lee’s Novel Be Published?
Feb 082015

James Scott Bell

The literary world was all abuzz this past week over the news that Harper Lee was releasing another novel. There was instant excitement on social media. The author of the enduring classic To Kill a Mockingbird was finally, over 50 years later, going to grace the world with another book!
It was a pleasant shock, as fans of Mockingbird had come to accept the fact that Harper Lee simply did not want to publish again. She lived in her small town and avoided publicity. Her protector in all this was her older sister, Alice, a lawyer.
It was only a day later that another side of this story began to seep out, the gist being that Harper Lee, now 88, was being exploited. That she’d had a stroke and was nearly blind, and was unable to fully understand what was going on.
Instead of euphoria, Mockingbird fans were now aghast. The new novel (titled Go Set a Watchman) was actually one Lee had written before Mockingbird, and she’d never allowed it to go to print. The timing of the announcement was suspicious, too, coming only months after Alice’s death at the age of 103.
Then the publisher, HarperCollins, issued a statement that claimed Harper Lee was “happy as hell” about the release. 
On the book itself, there were some odd rumblings. It was reported it would not be edited, that it literally came out of a box in Alabama and was going to be in bookstores by July of this year. Would Harper Lee really have agreed to that?
You can get a good account of all the back and forth here.
Today I happen to be in South Carolina with Donald Maass and Chris Vogler, for the final session of the four-day Story Masters conference. On our last day with the students we go chapter by chapter through a novel to illustrate in practice what we’ve been teaching.
Our novel this year is To Kill a Mockingbird.
I’ve read the book half a dozen times now. I’m always finding new things that impress me. This last time the subtle humor of the narrator hit me more than ever. It’s a masterful touch, just the right tone to counterpoint the tragedy in the middle of the book.
Clearly, this was a novel that was labored over. There have been persistent rumors that Harper Lee’s childhood friend Truman Capote (upon whom the character of Dill is based) had a hand in the manuscript. Capote’s father once bragged that Capote wrote the whole thing. Alice Lee adamantly denied it, stating unequivocally that Capote wasn’t involved at all. There is evidence to suggest Capote’s motive for letting the rumor have legs was jealousy—Harper Lee received the Pulitzer Prize right out of the gate, and he never did. Lee and Capote had a famous split because of the latter’s increasingly destructive behavior.
So the weight of evidence seems to me to be this: Harper Lee alone wrote To Kill a Mockingbirdand decided, at some point, that would be it for her. She has spent the last 55 years out of the public eye, choosing not to live a literary life.
Harper Lee came as close as anyone to writing the “Great American Novel.” And now this. 

I’d like, therefore, to toss out some questions to the TKZ community:
Do you think Harper Lee really wants this book published?
Is the world “owed” a look at this book?
What about after Harper Lee’s death? Would that make a difference? (There are reportedly other J. D. Salinger novels that might be released, something the notoriously reclusive author did not allow in his lifetime.)
What if the book is not well received? Will that harm Harper Lee’s reputation? Does that matter to anyone? 

Feb 092012

By Jordan Dane

HarperCollins has been testing the waters of discounting their e-book pricing and it’s my turn. My “NO ONE” series (3 suspense books, including my debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM) are now available at $.99 for a limited time. Book #1 is a standalone novel, but books # 2 & 3 are a connected story line. They are best read in order.

My debut novel NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM was named Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2008, NO ONE LEFT TO TELL and NO ONE LIVES FOREVER were selected TOP PICKS by Romantic Times Magazine with NO ONE LIVES FOREVER nominated as RT’s 2008 Best Intrigue Novel.

These books have such a special place in my heart. They bring back so many memories of my first sale and the extraordinary people who helped me. Click HERE for a link to my first sale story. I had to sacrifice a body part to sell and a very generous, well-established author jumpstarted my career.
Over the years, I’ve found the publishing industry has been filled with generous people who I’ve had the pleasure of crossing their paths, either online or in person. I feel very blessed to be a part of such a community so I wanted to bring these discounted books to the attention of my TKZ family.

I’m on deadline with a new YA series for Harlequin Teen (THE HUNTED) so I haven’t surfaced much online. I’m also in the midst of promoting my latest YA – ON A DARK WING (Harlequin Teen, Jan 2012). (Everything happens at once, even if you think you’re planning your schedule. And no one gets a break from the TAX MAN. *shiver*)

I have an online writing class coming up Feb 20 – Mar 3, 2012 also. The Young Adult online chapter for the Romance Writers of America (YARWA) is hosting the workshop. The link for that class is HERE.

I’d like to hear from TKZers. Please share:
1.) Your first sale story
2.) Or what it meant to see your first self-pubbed book on sale
3.) Or what keeps you writing.

The HarperCollins sale links to retailers of my $.99 e-books are below (B&N, Amazon, BAMM, Google EBooks, Kobo, iBookStore & other retailers):