A CHAT WITH
Heralded lawyer-turned-bestselling-author John Grisham is hard at work on his October novel, The Whistler (Doubleday), a thriller about a dangerous investigation into high levels of judicial corrup- tion. We asked him about the forthcoming work and a career that has seen more than 300 million books in print worldwide, translated into 40 languages, and adapted into nine feature films. Though Grisham
will not be at BookCon in person, his publisher, Penguin
Random House, will be giving away 100 leather-bound
signed editions of The Litigators, which was set in Chicago.
What do you want fans to know about your new book?
I haven’t written it yet. I’m working on it, but can’t talk much
The book is still due out in October, right?
That’s what they believe at Doubleday. I’m just not sure how
right they are.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
It has not happened in 30 years. I have the opposite problem. I
have so many ideas, I’m thinking about which book to write next.
Do you have any writing rituals or superstitions?
I do have some rituals. I start every morning at 7 or 7: 30 in the
same place—my little office where it’s dark and cozy—with a
cup of the same really strong black coffee. It’s my little cocoon.
There’s no phone, or fax, or Internet. And no music. I’ve tried
writing with music on, but I find it distracting. Those first two
hours are the best time of the day. I take a break about 9: 30 or
10 for a light breakfast, then I start losing interest around 10.
By 11 or 12, I’m ready to quit. Your brain is cooked when you
write hard for three or four hours. I really don’t enjoy coming
back to it after that—it’s no fun in the afternoon.
On January 1 of each year I start a legal thriller and allow
myself until July 1 to finish. Then we publish in late October
in time for Christmas.
Do you enjoy a favorite snack when you’re writing?
Never. My office is 30 yards from the house, so I might have
breakfast or lunch with my wife.
Who is your “first reader,” if you have one, of your
work in progress?
My wife of 35 years, Renee, not only reads my first draft, she
reads ideas. I’ll put together a two-page summary of a book,
and we’ll talk about it. About half the time she’s not impressed.
You have to have complete honesty from someone reading
your work, and she can be blunt at times. She loves to take a
big red marker to make notes. That leads to some healthy
discussions around the house.
Is there anything that is a sure writing distraction for
you—something that will always pull you away from
your writing work?
Not if I’m scheduled to be writing. I can’t think of anything
short of an emergency that would pull me away. I play a lot of
golf, but it’s always in the afternoon.
Do you have a favorite bit of publishing lore that has
been written about you?
There’s not a lot of drama in my life. But when my first book,