Novelist James Grant – aka Lee Child – takes a step back and passes his beloved character Jack Reacher on to his brother, who will continue the bestselling books.
The Sentinel is the 25th novel in the Jack Reacher series, published last month. It is the first to be co-written by Andrew Grant, published using their pen names of Lee and Andrew Child.
James has sold over 100 million copies of his Reacher books since the release of the first novel, Slaughter area, in 1997.
But he says his days as a novelist are over, as he felt he was unable to offer a modern take on the character.
Instead of completely killing the show off, he’s passed the torch on to someone best equipped to pursue it – his younger brother, another gifted writer who has followed the show from the start and is heavily invested in its sequel.
“I’ve always tried to be incredibly aware of myself, like an athlete,” James told RNZ. Sunday morning.
“I don’t want to be the embarrassing guy who stays too long in a season, or in showbiz, if you’re past the sales deadline and you’re still on stage, well, that’s no good.
“So what I’ve always tried to do is be aware of ‘when do I lose it’ and culture evolves without me. I can feel it coming, so I Thought I’d better do something about it and classically, Normally I guess the thing to do would have been to end the show and say ‘this is it’.
“But there are so many Reacher fans in the world – and especially in New Zealand as we know – that I was like, ‘I can’t do this to people, you have to find a different solution. Andrew being a writer , he’s very similar to me, we’re similar people, I thought that was the only chance for that. “
James said retirement will provide opportunities to do nothing but read the books he never had time to look at in the past and have fun.
“It’s the one thing that has ever bothered me about writing, it takes a long time to read,” he said.
For Andrew, the move was unique and said it was important for fans to know that his brother passed the project on to someone genuinely close to the character. He had read all the books in the series and was in tune with his brother’s thought processes and what made Jack Reacher special.
“The truth is, no one made me do this,” he said.
“Part of what we do is completely unique as there have been many occasions where an author has passed away and a few years later his estate contacted someone to see if they would be interested in continuing the series that was. dormant for a few years.
“But no one has ever passed the baton from one living writer to another, especially not his own brother.”
James said Andrew made the show more of a 21st century affair than he was able to on his own, but the brothers had collaborated well on the new book.
The character of Reacher, he said, was something he had internalized over the course of 25 years.
The characterization had often been discussed among the brothers. When a current event was mentioned in the news, for example, the brothers would reflect on how they thought Reacher would react, how he would feel about it.
“I think Lee and I are cut from the same fabric, so no matter how much Lee is in Reacher, I would say it’s similar to me,” he said.
Andrew remembers being invited by his older brother to read the manuscript of Slaughter area, his first novel published in 1997. Grant had been fired, with a mortgage to pay and children to look after. Writing for a living was a high risk move and the stakes were high.
“I’ve never been so nervous to pick up a book in my life than this one. But in one sentence I knew it was going to be fantastic,” Andrew said.
“For me, I remember so vividly thinking, ‘I know this character, even though I didn’t know his name, I knew how he would react to different situations, I knew what his motivations were, what his values were, his character was.
“So when Lee brought up the idea of joining him first and then finally getting back on the show, while I was thinking ‘wow, can I do that, what happened to me was that I was a Reacher fan all this time and lived every year for this new Reacher story patch and I was like “well if I don’t, there will be no more stories of Reacher, “I just couldn’t do that.”
His heroic character will remain largely unchanged, Andrew insists.
Meanwhile, James will be involved in the production of a new TV series based on the character of Reacher and eager to shape the project. The actor playing the role is Alan Ritchson.
In the new book The Sentinel, Reacher is more ruthless than ever, punishing those who cross the line and try to make his life difficult.
“But he’s not blind. He doesn’t just run around, no matter what city he finds himself in looking for trouble and fighting with people. Wherever he goes, he prefers. be left alone.
“He just wants to live his life, drift off and do his own thing… he’s very moral,” Andrew said.