08 Jan

The death of an undead author: on the road with Lee Child

Posted By Polity

The death of the author has been greatly exaggerated. Most authors are clinically dead, but there are still a few alive and kicking. Lee Child – creator of Jack Reacher – being one of them.

I read his books and reviewed them, then thought I should have a chat with him while he was still around. Boswell could go and hang out with Dr Johnson, so why not? I ended up looking over the writer’s shoulder while he wrote his latest bestseller, but then I realised: a book is nothing without its readers.

Showing how a writer writes is only half the story – the readers’ half should be recounted too. So I went on the road with Lee Child as he launched his twentieth Jack Reacher novel and met some of his readers and fans.  

With Child reconstructs the uncanny dialectic between writer and reader and their love-hate relationship. One reader found Jack Reacher a perfectly acceptable substitute for her dead husband; another condemned him as a “lightweight” city slicker. Yet another wrote to me as a Child stand-in: “Burn in hell, you sold out.” With Child explores the reader’s role in the myth and the madness of the making of a bestseller.

This blog post was written by Andy Martin. His new book, With Child, is now available from Polity.

Also available from AmazonBlackwells, Waterstones and Barnes & Noble. Check availability with your local bookstore.

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