Lee Child talks to World of Books.com about Jack Reacher, his name change and what he really thinks of Tom Cruise.
Lee Child, (whose real name is actually Jim Grant!), was born in 1954 in Coventry, England. In later years his parents moved him and his three brothers to Birmingham, seeking the option of a better education. In 1974, at the young age of 20, Jim attended Law school at Sheffield University, whilst also working backstage at a theatre. After graduating, he joined Granada Television as a presentation director in what turned out to be an eighteen-year career. When he was made redundant in 1995, Jim promptly bought $6 worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write Killing Floor (the first in the hugely successful Jack Reacher series), taking on the pseudonym that is known world-wide today- Lee Child. Speaking of his name-change, Lee says, “maybe ten people in the world call me by the name on my birth certificate. Sometimes I can barely remember what it is. Ten million people call me Lee Child. That’s more real to me than government paperwork”. Lee is currently living in New York with his wife and daughter.
World of Books is delighted to be able to chat to you! You’re one of our best-selling authors, with your work continuously entertaining and exciting the world’s bookworms. With your new novel The Affair, the eagerly-awaited next instalment of the Jack Reacher series, due out 29th September, you must be busy, so thank you!
Lee: I’m always busy, but always happy to talk, so thanks for the invitation.
Q: You’re currently living in America. How does your way of life there compare to the UK? Do you still feel British at heart?
- Well, I live in New York City, which isn’t quite the same thing as the rest of America. It’s a very cosmopolitan city and I feel very much at home here. But yes – I look at things with a certain amount of amusement and bewilderment, which can only be British common sense at work.
Q: Jack Reacher. An American Military Policeman. What a character! You’ve now spent years writing the Reacher series. Have there been any pivotal moments for you?
- Obviously my first number ones felt like landmark moments, but what has been most fascinating is the way Reacher has migrated outward into the general culture … people mention him all the time, in blogs and tweets – they say “Like Reacher says …” as if he was fixed reference point.
Q: Often when writing and creating the world of a character for so long, some authors admit that the people in their novels become quite real in their day-to-day life. What has living with Jack Reacher been like? Do you find it hard to switch off from imagining the next adventure in his world?
- I try to maintain a little distance from him, which keeps both of us healthy. He’s far from perfect, which keeps him real. An old man wrote to me and said, “I would hate to have him as an enemy, I’d be uneasy having him as a friend, and I sure as anything wouldn’t let him marry my granddaughter.”
Q: Now a bit of an odd one, it is an undeniable fact that Jack Reacher is an attractive character (in a rugged and ‘I’m-scarily-intelligent-but-in-a-likeable-and-honourable-kind-of-way’). Who do you think he appeals to more- women wanting to be with him or men dreaming that they are him?
- Actually plenty of women want to be him too. The foot-looseness and freedom from commitment seems to be a universal dream. And overall I think he has more women fans than men, which is highly gratifying.
Q: You’ve probably been expecting this Lee, but we can’t contain ourselves! The long awaited first Jack Reacher film, One Shot, is due out in 2013. How do you feel about this and what do you think of Tom Cruise playing your infamous hero?
- I love movies and I’m thrilled I’m making a tiny contribution there. The cast and crew are top-notch and I’m expecting a great result. I’m very happy with Tom Cruise … I wanted the actor with the most technical skills and the highest level of professionalism, and that’s him, frankly. Those facts get lost behind all the superstar hoopla, but they’re true nonetheless.
Q: As well as writing novels, you have also written several short stories. Does your approach to shorter stories change compared to novels? And which do you prefer?
- I far prefer novels. My short stories are mostly just amusements – I write them as favors, if a friend has an anthology to do, for instance.
Q: As a best-selling adventure/crime author, it’s pretty clear that your work captures the public’s attention, and that there will always be a demand for your writing. However, would you ever be tempted to write for another genre at all?
- No, I’m going to stick to thrillers, and Reacher thrillers specifically. I think that’s what people want from me, and who am I to claim to know better?
Q: Your new book The Affair comes out 29th September and we know for a fact that our customers are really excited (We certainly are!). So, what can die-hard fans and new readers alike expect from this next Jack Reacher episode?
- The Affair is a prequel – set in 1997, it’s Reacher’s last case in uniform. It answers the question: why did he leave the army? And as the title suggests, it’s steamy.
Q: So no retirement for Jack in sight?
- No, I’m sure the big guy will be wandering the land for some time to come.
Q: And finally, World of Books is dedicated to providing good-quality second-hand books to the public. By sourcing a large amount of our books from charities, we are also able to support their cause, often sending books out to developing countries and recently to UK based Army barracks. Any book we can’t sell, we recycle; last year alone we saved 12,500 metric tonnes of waste from going to landfill sites. In a world with an ever-growing digital media base, and increasing environmental concerns, do you believe in the importance of giving each physical book the chance of a new home?
- Absolutely. You’re doing good work. I expect digital will grow, but there will always be a place for the physical book.
Got the Reacher fever? Grab a copy of Lee’s next book, The Affair, out in stores 29th September 2011. Need to catch up on any of Lee’s other work? Why not visit our site and have a browse?