Never fear Jack Reacher fans – Jack’s still got plenty of life left in him. The James Hay Theatre was packed with Jack Reacher fans last night as his creator, Lee Child, landed in Christchurch as part of his Australasian tour. He held his audience captive for over an hour with anecdotes about the craft of writing, the appeal of Jack Reacher, and his dislike of the Fleming family.
He started by discussing why he sets his books in America instead of his native Britain. Jack Reacher, he said, is an isolated loner so you can’t have him in a populated, civilised country like Britain. He needed the American frontier mysteriousness to give Jack the wide-open spaces and lots of isolated small towns. While other crime writers tie their main character to a particular place, Reacher is able to go anywhere and do anything.
Child also has a dislike of James Bond and his creator Ian Fleming. I think it was Frederick Forsyth that compared Reacher to James Bond, but Child disagreed with this comparison and said that he’s more like the Lone Ranger or a medieval knight errant because you don’t know much about his past or who he really is and there is always somebody who needs his help when he rolls into town. Although, Reacher firmly believes that he’s not helping the little man, he just hates the big man.
People have asked Child what the appeal of Jack Reacher is, particularly to women, and he thinks that it is probably because he is offended by injustice and he treats women well. It is a compelling character, such as Reacher, that Child suggests is the most important part of a story, and that all the details of the plot are secondary to this compelling character. The character of Reacher is definitely the main reason I love his books.
Lee Child will keep writing the Jack Reacher books for as long as he can (and as long as they sell) so we don’t need to worry about losing him quite yet, although Child already has Reacher’s final scene worked out so I now know how he’ll die.