Sunday, November 15, 2009
ROGUE MALES: SUBJECT #11, LEE CHILD
(Author’s note: Rogue Males: Conversations & Confrontations About the Writing Life, is a collection of author interviews. It includes Elmore Leonard, Stephen J. Cannell, Pete Dexter, James Ellroy, Daniel Woodrell, Craig Holden and James Crumley. Rogue Males also features an account of a trip to the desert to interview crime fiction greats Ken Bruen and James Sallis about the craft of writing. During the next few weeks, I’m sharing a little bit about each of the 16 writers featured in Rogue Males.)
Lee Child was enjoying a successful career in television when the economy cratered and he was “downsized”…out of a job during our last great “economic downturn.”
Child recently wrote a candid essay about that experience and his dawning awareness at the time that he lacked “transferrable skills.”
Anyone who finds themselves in similar harrowing straights during today’s hard times — cast off from a career they thought would carry them to retirement — will find much to identify with in Child’s account of his own ousting.
But it’s unlikely they’ll choose the same highly unconventional path to reinvention Child selected for himself — that is, to become a thriller writer.
I’ve interviewed Lee Child three times. The first of those interviews can be found in Art in the Blood and touches on Child’s maverick career course correction.
The Rogue Males interviews date from the release of Child’s novels One Shot (2005) and Bad Luck and Trouble (2007). In the latter interview, Child discusses his next-envisioned novel, which would take his character, Jack Reacher, in a slightly more topical/political direction.
Lee Child interview quote: “The way the series is set up, there is a tremendous amount of flexibility given he doesn’t have a job or a location. Those are the two things that tend to suffocate a series. If you’ve got to write your twelfth book about a police lieutenant in Chicago, already you’ve cut your options down drastically. The fact is Reacher can be anywhere and do anything. It’s really not very restrictive so I don’t feel the need to break out of the straightjacket.”
NEXT UP: KEN BRUEN