About The Author
Lee Child is one of the world's leading thriller writers. He was born in Coventry, raised in Birmingham, and now lives in New York. It is said one of his novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every twenty seconds. His books consistently achieve the number-one slot on bestseller lists around the world, and are published in over one hundred territories. He is the recipient of many prizes, most recently the CWA's Diamond Dagger for a writer of an outstanding body of crime fiction. Jack Reacher, the first Jack Reacher movie starring Tom Cruise, was based on the novel One Shot, and the second, just released, is Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
His new novel, Night School, now out in paperback, is the twenty-first Reacher thriller. It's 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there's a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big. Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission and a big win. The Army pats him on the back and gives him a medal. And then they send him back to school. It's a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he's selling. And to whom...
Exclusively for Foyles, we talked to Lee about moving from tv into writing, how and when the series might end and drawing inspiration from football teams for his characters' names!
Author photograph © Sigrid Estrada
Questions & Answers
When writing Jack Reacher novels now, do you now find yourself with the visual image in your head of Tom Cruise?
No, not at all. The book is the final thing, the ultimate end product. It isn’t really replaced by the movie, the movies run on a parallel track with their own integrity and I’m happy to let the filmmakers get on and do what they need to do.
What say, if any, do you have in the movies?
I see the books and the movies as totally separate things really. I prefer not to have a formal role, nothing good is ever done by committee.
When you started writing the books did you have any idea that the series would extend to so many titles, 21 and counting?!
No, everything is so unpredictable. I hoped and dreamed the books would be successful, of course, but I didn’t have any expectations that the series would turn out the way it did No one could or should expect that but it's great if it happens.
The new book is actually a prequel, Reacher being only 35 years. Did you always know the details of his back story, or did you have to create much of it for this book?
I knew a lot of the details of course. The big difference is that today we understand the parameters of the security threat, it’s so much clearer than it was 20 years ago.
Are there any details in the books that you would change in light of the longevity of the series or the advent of the movies?
Definitely, small things here and there. But the book is who you were when you wrote it, you can’t change it. It’s a bit like looking at old photographs, they show who you were at the time.
You started your media career as a television producer. Did you always feel you had a novel (or, as it turned out, very many!) in you?
Not really. I loved reading but I had never really considered how the books actually got there. I always loved the proposition of entertaining people, having an audience and it just took off from there.
Do you know where, when and how the series will end?
Not specifically but it does have to end some time! Jack deserves a noble end but I don’t want to make it gratuitous. I’m working on a more subtle way of working things out.
Is it true your books always have a character named after a football player in homage to your love of the game?
I always have problems coming up with character names so I use a variety of different strategies. Some characters are named by people who’ve won a prize to do so, and yes, footballers is another of my methods!