One of my greatest pleasures living in London, is being invited to attend BBC recordings of interviews with famous authors. BBC World Book Club is the most listened to radio book club in the world. And Harriet Gilbert does a marvellous job of the interviewing. As members of the audience, we are allowed to ask questions alongside questions which have been emailed and tweeted in from around the globe. It’s always exciting, especially because the author is there in person and we are allowed to participate in a recording that will soon be broadcast around the world.
Yesterday the recording was an interview with John Grisham on his book ‘A Time to Kill’. The recording took place in the US Embassy but unfortunately Grisham was unable to actually make it to London and was skyped live into the auditorium where the recording took place. We were all disappointed that he wasn’t there in person but he was so charming and well spoken he was soon forgiven for not showing up. 🙂 If you want to hear the interview it will air on April 6.
BBC World Book Club
‘A Time to Kill’ was Grisham’s first novel and is his most dramatic and compelling. It actually didn’t become popular until his next book ‘The Firm’ made it big. The book is about a young black girl who is raped by two white men. The father decides to take matters into his own hands because he suspects that in the deep south the white men will never be fairly tried or punished. In an act of fatherly outrage and retribution, he shoots the men himself and then hopes that lawyer Jake Brigance will be able to defend him in court. Brigance takes on the case, but not without considerable struggle and threats from the KKK.
In the interview, Grisham, a lawyer who practiced himself for 10 years, said the story sprung from a case he himself witnessed where a black girl was raped and the white men got off with very light sentences. He also once saw a young rape victim questioned on the stand in court and seeing her struggle touched him deeply. He admitted that the book is so powerful and graphic, he might not have been able to write it today, after having a daughter of his own. He says he even had trouble watching the movie when it came out.
Grisham also spilled the beans about writing a sequel to this novel which will be coming out in the fall. It won’t be a direct continuation but it does also take place in Ford County, again features the lawyer Jake Brigance, and takes place 3 years after ‘A Time to Kill’. He said the topic of the new book was “a rich and meaty legal dispute” which doesn’t really tell us much since that describes many of his books! Other interesting facts I learned are that he never has had writer’s block. He always has more ideas for stories than he can actually write. And he carefully outlines his books before he writes them, knowing exactly what’s going to happen. He says he wants his readers always to be “turning pages”, and in this, I think it is safe to say, he has succeeded!