Rowling transformed the young adult genre with Harry Potter, the best-selling book series in history with more than 450 million physical copies sold in 67 languages. The books set continuous sales records, while the blockbuster film adaptations helped propel the stories of a young wizard and his friends fighting the evil Lord Voldemort into a cultural phenomenon. Rowling has now focused her literary efforts on an adult audience with The Casual Vacancy, her adult novel set for Sept. 27 release. In the novel, Rowling takes readers into the inner-workings of a town really at war with itself underneath the “pretty façade” (think cobbled market square and an ancient abbey)—a contrast to the fantasy-driven work of her past. Rowling will use the backdrop of a parish council election following a murder to tell the (quite raucous) story of an English town wrought with strife at every level.
Rowling, 47, isn’t the first successful children’s writer to delve into the adult world. TIME takes a look at other authors who have made with leap—some having met with great success while others were left scrambling back to a more youthful audience.
(PHOTOS: Growing Up with Harry Potter)
Next Madeleine L’Engle