Here I am again, meeting up with Lee Child as he returns to the UK to promote his latest high octane Jack Reacher thriller One Shot, which should be re-titled One-Sitting as it is a difficult book to put down once the spine’s cracked.
He really needs little introduction, but if you are unfamiliar with his work, follow the links to my previous interviews and articles which are archived at the end of this piece.
I met up with Lee at Ottakars Milton Keynes as well at Waterstones Deansgate in Manchester and at both venues it was standing room only. With my camera, tape recorder and a Kevlar vest, I decided to ask Lee what is new in his world.
Ali : Another year and another Jack Reacher adventure! Welcome back to Shots eZine, Lee.
Lee : Great to be back and good to see you again, Ali.
Ali : I loved One Shot, but why did you decide not to name the town in Indiana that Reacher arrives in?
Lee : It was a conscious decision, because I wanted the setting to be atmospheric, a ‘vibe’ or a ‘feeling’ rather than get hung-up on particular geography, as long as it was the US heartland or Midwest, I felt it fine to have the town unnamed.
Ali : You often go against the flow of the conventional thought; an example is that in One Shot Reacher questions the ‘slam-dunk’ evidence that the police have on James Barr, the assassin – sort of challenging the CSI-style forensic investigators. Was this a conscious decision on your part?
Lee : Yes I do like to examine whatever is current and put a skeptical spin on it and in One Shot the evidence at the beginning is perfect, but Reacher believes that it is too perfect, like a CSI case and of course Reacher wants to debunk the evidence
Ali : Jack Reacher has his pick of love interest from the four main female protagonists - lawyer Helen, Barr’s sister Rosemary, the TV anchorwoman, as well as his former lover from the services – did you have to think hard who Reacher should bed or did things work out naturally?
Lee : Well Rosemary Barr was out of the question: Reacher would stay well clear of a woman who was emotionally vulnerable. The lawyer was probably going to be the love interest until the Bouchercon charity auction, when things changed dramatically…
Ali : Tell me about how you came up with baddies, and why do they need to be grotesque such as The Zec in One Shot?
Lee : Because in a sense I do wish to have banal baddies, and explore the issue that evil is often banal, but the structure in any novel has to have conflict. The greatest paradigm of conflict is David and Goliath, so if Reacher is David, then Goliath has to be someone who is very fearsome, to balance and retain a level of suspense.
Ali : So what’s with the new Lee Child Blog? How did this come about and will you continue blogging after the tour?
Lee : No, I’m not going to continue blogging after the tour. It was Maggie Griffin’s idea [webmaven at www.leechild.com] and it is a great idea as Maggie’s instinct for the internet is always spot on. The practicality is somewhat different because after a 12 to 15 hour day, at midnight or 1am I have to do the blog. It is something that I am having fun with but it’s only for the tour.
Ali : Nine novels in; is it true that Reacher is coming to England at last?
Lee : Yes, in the tenth novel the climatic action takes place in England - Norfolk in fact.
Ali : You are a founder member of the International Thriller Writers’ Association. Tell us more.
Lee : It came about in a way that was really unstructured and incoherent. Various people felt the need to promote straight thrillers as opposed to crime fiction or mysteries. It was complex to start with as many wanted different things from the Association, but we quickly hammered out a kind of agreement and it does look very good. OK, it’s early days but it might well become the pre-eminent author organization; on the other hand it might be a failure, but we have some very good people working on it, so lets hope it does become a success.
Ali : Thanks for the time Lee, I’ll leave you to your blog!
Lee : Thanks Ali, good to see you again and please pass my regards to the editorial team at Shots for all the support!