James D. “Jim” Grant, popularly known by his pseudonym Lee Child, is a British author widely known and admired for his thriller novels, especially his Jack Reacher novel series where his protagonist, an ex-military policeman travels the country with nothing but a toothbrush and has incredible encounters and unforgettable adventures.
Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the man behind the eminent novels:
From law to theatre to television to writing
Grant went to law school in 1974 at the Sheffield University in England. However, he had no intention of becoming a lawyer. He spent much of his time in the university theatre, so much that he failed quite a few exams and had to repeat the courses. After graduating, he joined a commercial TV channel, Granada television. He did not start writing until he was 40 and his 18 year old career at the television channel ended because of corporate restructuring.
He wrote his first novel with a pencil
At the age of 40 Jim Grant got fired from his job, bought six dollars worth of pencils and paper and started to write his first novel, Killing Floor. The book that he wrote as fast as he could was an instant hit and went on to win more awards than any of his other books. Killing Floor (1997) received the Anthony Award, the Barry Award and the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Prize. The pencil that Grant used is still a prized possession that he keeps in his New York home.
Jim Grant becomes Lee Child
Jim Grant writes under the pen name, Lee Child. The story behind this is a rather remarkable one. On hearing an American mispronounce Le Car as Lee car, calling anything ‘lee’ became a joke in Grant’s household. His daughter was ‘lee child’. Choosing ‘Lee Child’ as his pseudonym turned out to be an amazing marketing strategy for the author since it came earlier in the alphabet than Jim Grant , would fit on the bookshelves between Raymond Chandler and Agatha Christie, and many of the best-selling authors of his time had last names that began with “C”.
Grant started writing his first book on September 1st without a plot in his mind, without any idea of what the story would be, without in fact a name for his protagonist. Ever since, he sits down to write his novel every year on the same day. It has become a ritual for him.
Just like Lee Child himself, Jack Reacher has to leave his job. The character hitchhikes across America and finds noble causes, and trouble. Interestingly, the first book was written without the main character having a name. The author’s wife once said to him that with his size, he could become a ‘reacher’ in a supermarket, to reach things on the top shelves, and that gave the author the idea for his protagonist’s name!
Get your share of suspense and thrills in Lee Child’s new short story collection No Middle Name.