JK Rowling received £8,000 from the Scottish Arts Council in 1997 to help her write Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Under a new proposal, the council wants future grants to be considered loans that recipients would have to pay back if they later became successful authors. Some would like the rule to be retroactive, as well.
The idea, which has the support of major authors and publishers, is being examined as a way of ploughing extra funds into the industry to nurture writing talent. Under the proposal, grants to writers would be viewed effectively as loans, with the SAC given the power to claw back a proportion of the artists' royalties.
According to SAC sources, the repayment plan would affect only the most successful authors, with a threshold set before they would have to repay anything.
Authors such as Harry Potter creator JK Rowling - now the biggest-selling writer of her generation - could be asked to return the cash she was given by the SAC before her books became successful.