An Evening with Lee Child – Past Tense – WORD Christchurch

I am well into the morning-after glow of having spent an evening in the company of Lee Child, Paul Cleave and 750 of his Christchurch fans – and what a night it was! This is my first WORD Christchurch event – this one presented in association with Penguin Random House New Zealand – and I couldn’t have asked for a better author to kick off with. Lee Child is funny, intelligent and relaxed as he responds to Paul Cleave’s questions. He looks every bit as he does on the back cover of his books too. Now don’t worry – there are no spoilers for Past Tense in here – nor were there any in the interview, thankfully. I am still only part way through the book so I would have been gutted if it had been discussed in depth.

Have you ever wondered if Lee Child is channeling any of himself into our favourite character? Turns out that he is. He has gone out and experienced moving around the States as Jack does and has a similar dislike for technology. He also told us that other than the leather jacket and boots that he was wearing on the night; everything else will find itself in the bin in a few days and he will leave with new clothes. The basics aren’t expensive – he’s tried expensive clothing and found that they look the same anyway. And yes his jeans go under the mattress at night!

So which of you didn’t like Tom Cruise in the big screen role of Jack Reacher? No? Me neither! Quite simply because he doesn’t have the requisite traits that we all know Reacher to have – if anything, Tom Cruise is the antipode of Jack Reacher.

But this isn’t something that we will have to continue to grin and bear for any future films. That’s because there won’t be any. It was in Lee’s contract with the studio that he could opt out of any future movies once two had been made. So he has. Instead we have something much more worthy to look forward to. A TV series! He has just signed the paperwork to put Jack Reacher onto the little screen and I for one will be happily bingewatching it. If luck has it, there will be 8 seasons which will incorporate 24 books – 3 per season. One book will be chosen as the main theme and the other 2 will be cannibalised to round out the episodes. Can’t wait to see the result.

It was nice to see Lee graciously accept the book of a first-time author from the audience, when he was offered it. I had the impression that he genuinely supports up and coming talent. He does however, heartily disapprove of a well established author who quite blatantly kicks off a series with a character who is a bit of a dead ringer for ol’ Jack. David Baldacci… you know who you are! Amusingly, Lee didn’t take this affront lying down and is openly disparaging of such behaviour. He even went as far as to name a couple of his minor characters Baldacci and made sure that Reacher got a chance to punch them in the face. It seems that was enough to assure the absence of David Baldacci at some book events that he and Lee Child were due to attend together. Better watch your back DB!

So, ‘how does he remain as thin as he does?’, was one audience member’s question. Lee has discovered that stoking the fires of his creativity is as simple as keeping himself hungry. He writes better like this. He puts it down to some primal part of his brain that is activated when he is hungry – and it’s no doubt trying to imagine what it will have to do in order to hunt and forage to fill this need. Deep stuff.

So even though food doesn’t play a huge part we can rest assured that he is consuming copious amounts of coffee. This stuff must be running through his veins as it’s not unusual for him to consume 36 cups of coffee in a day! 36! Mind blown! How on earth does he sleep at night, I wonder?

So that was my night with Lee Child. It was a very entertaining time that was had by all. And no I didn’t hang around for my book to be signed, because I didn’t have a couple of hours to spare! Maybe next time.

Time to immerse myself back into Jack Reacher’s world – Past Tense here I come!

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An Evening with Lee Child – Friday 23 November, 7pm – WORD Christchurch

CoverLee Child has just released his 23rd Jack Reacher book – Past Tense – and I can hardly wait to get my hands on it. The only thing that could possibly be better, is attending ‘An Evening with Lee Child’ – but you also won’t be surprised to hear that this WORD Christchurch event is already sold out. With a drawcard like bestselling author Lee Child having a chat with local author Paul Cleave – it’s no wonder! There was much seat bouncing and skiting to anyone who would listen when I heard that I would be going to see the creator of the Jack Reacher series in the flesh. It is almost like being in the same room as the great man himself – and who wouldn’t want to be up close and personal with someone like Jack?

Lee Child is one of an elite group of authors of whose work I have read in its entirety – and eagerly anticipate his next offering. This doesn’t sound like too big of a deal, I agree; but I am actually one of those librarians who don’t read many books. Blame the alluring pull of technology, being time-poor and feeling like it is taking my work home with me. But for another tale about Jack, I will always make an exception.

With 23 books under his belt and more than 40 short story anthologies, Lee Child has been giving his imagination and typing skills a serious work out over the last 21 years. His books have been bestsellers and he’s sold well over 100 million of them all over the world. From a librarian’s point of view I can honestly say that they are rarely back in the library long enough to actually get shelved.

Now I can see how this is a wee bit like teasing you all given that the event is actually sold out – but don’t despair. You can put your name on the waitlist according to the WORD Christchurch website – so you might be in with a chance! I on the other hand will be there with bells on and will let you know what you missed from the comfort of your lounge room – so watch this space!



Coffee with Lee Child

Lee's first book The Killing FloorThis is a guest post from a fortunate fan who met with writer Lee Child. Thanks for sharing your impressions.

I had the good fortune to be offered the opportunity to meet Lee Child during his recent flying visit to Christchurch. As a huge fan of his works there was no way I was going to miss that! Fortunately I was already on leave that day so I fronted up at our agreed meeting place (prior to Lee starting his hectic book signing engagements) and over coffee I had the opportunity to quiz him on anything I liked.

Aware that most people probably quiz him endlessly about Jack Reacher, I left the likeable rogue to hover around the edges of our discussions. Being interested in writing, I quizzed Lee on how he structures his books (he doesn’t, except for a start and a finish), we discussed plans for a future book (mine), and talked about almost everything but his books. When quizzed on what authors Lee likes he said he enjoys reading books to inform himself, I never did get an actual author name out of him, but we did discuss Stieg Larsson (so he’d obviously read the Millenium trilogy).

Lee feels that readers can’t really expect 50 (or however many) books about the same character, so when Jack Reacher did eventually become the topic of discussion (his agent wanted to know if I’d thought of any questions that no-one else has ever asked), amongst other things we discussed potential endings for Jack Reacher; I’ll be extremely happy if one of my suggestions is how he concludes the series.

Lee struck me as a down-to-earth kind of guy who showed a genuine interest in people. Knowing that he had an exceptionally busy schedule in Christchurch I really appreciated him making the time to have a drink and chat with me. Thanks to Random House, Borders, and of course Lee Child for giving me this opportunity!

The man behind Jack Reacher

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.

WIN tickets to see Lee Child

As I mentioned on my post about Lee Child’s latest book 61 Hours, he is coming to Christchurch next Thursday and you have the chance to win tickets to see him right here on the blog.  This will be a great chance to listen to Lee Child talk about his books and Jack Reacher, and get your books signed.

Courtesy of The Press we have 3 double passes to give away to the Lee Child Literary Liaison on Thursday 15 April, 7pm at the James Hay Theatre.  All you have to do is post a comment here telling us what question you would ask Lee Child if you get the chance to meet him.  Entries close Tuesday 13 April at 9am and the winners will be notified by email.

Women want him, men want to be him – Jack Reacher

As well as watching a considerable amount of Glee at the weekend,  I also had my head stuck in Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher book 61 Hours.   In many ways I am the complete opposite of Jack Reacher;

  • he’s 6-foot, broad-shouldered and rugged whereas I am average height and rugged is probably the last word you would use to describe me.
  • he’s an ex-military tough guy, I’m a librarian and couldn’t scare anybody if I tried.
  • his only possessions are the clothes on his back, but it took 15 large boxes just to move all my books last time I moved flats (I’m only slightly obsessed, I swear!).

I’m sure I could give you more examples, but these just show you what extreme opposites Jack Reacher and myself are.   I prefer to live my live vicariously through Jack Reacher and other characters such as Harry Bosch, Charlie Parker and Mikael Blomkvist.  These characters can do the things that I would never do myself and I know that I would react very differently if placed in the same situations. 

What makes Lee Child’s latest book, 61 Hours, so exciting is the countdown throughout the book.  It starts at 61 hours (obviously) with the tour bus that Jack Reacher’s on crashing on a snowy highway just outside of the town of Bolton in South Dakota.  You know as you read that time is counting down to something but you don’t find out until the end of the book so you just have to keep reading to find out.

If you’re a Lee Child fan, he’s going to be in Christchurch next Thursday (15 April) so you can get to meet the man himself.  He’ll be signing his books at Borders Riccarton from 11.30am-12 noon, Paper Plus Riccarton from 12.00-12.30pm, and Whitcoulls Cashel St from 1.00-1.45pm.  He is also doing a Literary Liason at the James Hay Theatre  at 7pm if you want to hear him discuss his books and Jack Reacher (Tickets $15 at Ticketek).