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     Volume 2 Issue 17 | May 06 , 2007|


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Author Profile
What makes John Grisham write?

Tamara Zaman

“The Jury”, “The Partner”, “The Chamber”… These titles conjure a single name in one's mind: John Grisham. Today, any avid reader would be able to name several of Grisham's bestsellers, and it is no surprise that most will have read a few, too. Such was not the case some twenty years ago, when John Ray Grisham Jr. began his career as a writer. His first work, in fact, got rejected by a number of publishers before one Wynwood Press decided to put it in print, initiating what was to be a series of bestselling novels.

Grisham was born in 1955 into a humble family in Arkansas, USA. His father was a construction worker and farmed cotton, while his mother was a home maker. He was the second of four children. Inspired by his mother to read, Grisham got into the habit at an early age, but it wasn't until after college that he discovered his passion for writing.

Grisham completed his undergraduate studies at the Mississippi State University, in Accounting. He went on to obtain the degree of Doctor of Jurisprudence at the law school of the University of Mississippi in 1981. Marrying Renee Jones that very year, Grisham settled in the small town of Southaven, where he set up his own law firm and practiced both civil and criminal law. Grisham got elected to the House of Representatives in 1983. A year later he witnessed the trial of a 12 year-old rape victim. He based his first novel on the proceedings in the courtroom, exploring what might have happened had the girl's father murdered the assailants. This formed his novel “A Time To Kill”, and after 3 years of working on the novel, he faced trouble finding a publisher. Wynwood Press eventually published just 5000 copies of the book. Despite receiving good reviews, reader responses stayed at a minimum.

He started work on his next book immediately, and “The Firm” turned out to be the 7th bestselling novel of the year. Paramount Pictures bought film rights for $ 600000 even before the novel came out.

Grisham stepped down from his political positions and bought a farm near Oxford, Mississippi, from where he wrote books at the average rate of one per year, almost all of which ended up as bestsellers.

Grisham returned to the court scene after a 5 year break, and the case he was defending won, being his most successful ever. He now lives happily on his farms in Oxford, Mississippi and Charlottesville, Virginia with his family.

John Grisham Trivia
* Grisham used to be a politician and an attorney. He is a novelist and author of modern legal drama. He has also tried his hand at publishing (“The Oxford American”) and has written the screenplay for and helped produce the film “Mickey”

* Grisham's main influences were John Steinbeck and John Le Carre

Grisham states it takes only about six months to write a novel

Grisham was pronounced “the bestselling novelist of the 90s” by Publisher's Weekly

Grisham is one of the only two authors to sell two million copies on a first printing, his competitor being Tom Clancy

“The Pelican Brief” sold 11,232,480 copies in the United States of America

The Mississippi State University Libraries (Manuscript Division) maintains a John Grisham room, entailing materials produced by him during his political career

Grisham has a passion for baseball, which shines through in several of his works
* Grisham helped “The Oxford American” from financial destitution and is now the founding publisher

Grisham has endowed scholarships and writer's residencies in the English Department and Graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Mississippi

Some of his famous works include
§ “The Rainmaker” (1995)
§ “The Runaway Jury” (1996)
§ “The Partner”(1997)
§ “A Painted House” (2001)
§ “Bleachers” (2003)
§ “The Client” (1993)
§ “The Broker” ( 2005)


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