Author Child goes underground in 14th Reacher book

Tue Jun 8, 2010 10:56am EDT
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By Jeffrey Benkoe

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - In author Lee Child's latest book "61 Hours", the 14th in his Jack Reacher mystery series, his tough-guy loner hitches a ride on a tour bus that crashes on an icy highway in South Dakota.

After a series of twists and turns, the tall, 220-pound Reacher, a former military policeman who dismisses the bad guys quickly, comes face-to-face with a short, fleet-footed and sadistic Mexican crime boss in a secret, long-forgotten silo.

Child, whose real name is James Grant, was born in Coventry, England, and worked as a television director before he was laid off and turned to fiction. Some 40 million copies of his books are in print.

He spoke to Reuters about his famous character, why readers like Reacher so much and if his books will be made into films.

Q: What was your upbringing like?

A: "They say the past is another country, and in my case it was, literally -- provincial Britain in the late '50s and early '60s. The nation was gray and exhausted after World War Two. Culturally, World War Two didn't really end until 1963. I had a ration card as a baby. Education was prized by certain families, mine included, but for most a good performance meant you were 'too big for your boots.'"

Q: How did you come up with the Jack Reacher character?

A: "I was a huge reader of the (mystery) genre. I was very bored with the standard hero at the time, a miserable guy, a divorced guy, alcoholic, dysfunctional, down. Generally speaking, people don't want to read about miserable characters. I wanted to get away from that and come up with a clean-cut hero who does not have those problems.   Continued...

<p>Author Lee Child, author of "61 Hours," is shown in a photo taken in July 9, 2009. REUTERS/Gordon Trice/Handout</p>