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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Will Harper Lee be Worth the Wait?

Gina Holmes is the founder of Novel Rocket and award-winning author of Crossing Oceans, Dry as Rain, Wings of Glass and Driftwood Tides. She lives in Southern VA with her husband, children, and brood of K-9 babies. You can learn more about her at

When I learned that Harper Lee was finally releasing a second novel, I may have peed a little. 

Her first, To Kill a Mockingbird, not only won a Pulitzer but also sold over 100 million copies worldwide. 100 MILLION. I think all of us would agree that the book was pure genius and deserved success. 

Was it this success that gave her writer's block or did she simply not have to write anymore. I'd assume that 100 million copies might equate to nearly that much in royalties. That's not even counting the movie or merchandising. 

I don't know if my first novel, Crossing Oceans, had done that well if I'd have written another. I've heard some writers say that a real writer can't help but write. Maybe. Maybe not. 

The official cover?
If I'd made millions on CO, I might have walked away too. I might have gone on to buy a plot of land near my beloved river, planted a garden, supported an orphanage, and lived quite contendely. I might dabble in writing, perhaps under a penname. Perhaps just letters to my children or a prison pen pal. It's hard to say. 

I might be worried that I'd come out with another book that would flop, and hinder the sales of my first novel which continued to butter my bread. 

The story behind Ms. Lee's latest, and likely last, offering is not without controversy. Though it is being touted a sequel, it was written in the 1950s BEFORE Mockingbird. Lee has said she would never publish another novel, so it is somewhat suspicious that just two months after her sister's (and caretaker) death, the announcement of the lost manuscript is made. 
Set during the mid-1950s, some 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout  has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus, and is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father's attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood. (Synopsis provided by Goodreads)
Some have speculated that Lee, whose health is reportedly failing and resides in an assisted living facility, was coerced or  bullied into releasing the novel.  According to her long time friend and historian, Wayne Flynt told the Associated Press that this simply isn't true. 

Flynt said he believes Lee was capable of giving permission for the previously unpublished manuscript to be released."This narrative of senility, exploitation of this helpless little old lady is just hogwash. It's just complete bunk,"Wayne Flynt said.

We may never know the circumstances surrounding Lee's decision to publish "Go Set a Watchman", purportedly based on the scripture from Isaiah 21:6, "Go set a watchman; let him announce what he sees." 

What we do know is that it is being released by Harper Collins in July 2015.  Even before the cover has been uploaded to book buying sites, it's already hit #1. For fear of the 2 million copy initial print run selling out, I have already pre-ordered mine. I haven't been this excited since Leif Enger announced he was releasing his sophomore novel. Sure, that didn't turn out quite like I thought it would, but that's not deterred me from hoping that lightening can strike twice for Lee . . . and all of us who loved To Kill a Mockingbird.  


On Sale Now at Lifeway!


  1. I had never read To Kill a Mockingbird until you told me I had to for research. I loved it, but my reading stack it os big and I'm on deadline. So I'll let you read it first and tell me if it's really a must read.

  2. There are some authors that are worth setting all others to the side for. My biggest concern is that she had an awesome editor who had her do rewrites on mockingbird. I wonder if this manuscript got the same attention.

  3. Gina, Thanks so much for sharing this! "To Kill A Mockingbird" is my favorite all-time movie. I'm thrilled to learn Harper Lee is still alive, AND is releasing another book. Wow! Thanks again!

  4. I'm looking forward to reading it, and rereading Mockingbird. Thanks for the info.


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