Friday, November 30, 2012

Nickie's Ten Questions to Lee Child

Lee Child was born in 1954 in Coventry, England, but spent his formative years in the nearby city of Birmingham. By coincidence he won a scholarship to the same high school that JRR Tolkien had attended. He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theater he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.”

During his tenure his company made Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in the Crown, Prime Suspect, and Cracker. But he was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring. Always a voracious reader, he decided to see an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis and bought six dollars’ worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series.

Killing Floor was an immediate success and launched the series which has grown in sales and impact with every new installment.

Lee has three homes—an apartment in Manhattan, a country house in the south of France, and whatever airplane cabin he happens to be in while traveling between the two. In the US he drives a supercharged Jaguar, which was built in Jaguar’s Browns Lane plant, thirty yards from the hospital in which he was born.

Lee spends his spare time reading, listening to music, and watching the Yankees, Aston Villa, or Marseilles soccer. He is married with a grown-up daughter. He is tall and slim, despite an appalling diet and a refusal to exercise.

Some time ago, I did an interview wit Lee and here are his answers:

1. Did you always want to be a writer?

Not always … I started vaguely thinking about it in about 1989 or 1990, and then I lost my job in 1995 and decided to give it a try.

2. Was it difficult for you to find a publisher for your first book?

No, the first publisher that saw it bought it. But that’s an untypical experience – most writers find it takes a little longer.

3. How was this first book received by the public and the critics?

Fortunately everybody seemed to like it from the start. I was very lucky.

4. Why did you not want to become a lawyer, after studying law?

Who would want to be a lawyer? It’s a very boring job. But it’s an interesting subject to study.

5. Can you give us some anecdotes from when you were working for Granada TV?

Well, where can I start? I once had a picnic lunch on a studio floor with Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and John Geilgud I met Nathalie Wood. I directed the longest newsflash in UK TV history – the SAS assault in Princes Gate.

6. Where do you get the inspiration for your books?

From current events, from history books, from my imagination.

7. Does Jack Reacher resemble your personally in any other way?

He and I are practically twins.

8. You have lived in the UK and now in the USA. Where do you like it best?

The US, for sure. But I don’t really feel at home anywhere – just like Jack Reacher.

9. I have been unemployed for quite some time, and then found the inspiration to write my first book. Did that also work for you?

Definitely. Being broke is the best incentive there is.

10. Mind telling us if you have a favourite book or author?

Sophie’s Choice by William Styron.

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