My first interview with Lee Child at Google was in front of an audience of Googlers to talk about 'A Wanted Man' and 'One Shot,' the basis for the new movie. I met Lee Child and Maggie Griffith ("Jack Reacher's best friend in America") in a clockwork lobby at Google. Amidst the walls of glass and crystalline plastic, there was a huge sort of Rube Goldberg machine that lowly ticked away in a nonsensical, or very Seussian manner, while we tried to get the chill of the rain and the cold winter out of our bones.
My preference would have been to conduct the one-on-one before the audience interview, but I work with what I have, and to be honest, it actually did not make that much of a difference. I'd just come out of reading three titles in a row and there was enogh to talk about to fill a couple of interviews, which we did quite handily.
The Authors @ Google experience is great. Google plans extremely well, and they have a great crew working at Google Books. The AV crew — a one-man band, was excellent and seamless, as was the Author Hangout online. All of this is well ahead of its time. Readers who are looking to the future of books can look here. The paper will never go away, but having the access to a larger audience makes it more likely that more books will get read.
I do hope that readers will take the time to view the video and please leave comments. Google is very attentive to details; they will listen to your responses. Readers and writers who want to support the Agony Column can certainly help here.
Listeners who want to hear what Child thinks of the movie will find their answer in this podcast. I didn't ask the question myself, because I was certain that someone in the audience would, and I wanted to do what I could to bring the audience into the discussion. Child is a fan of the movie, but you'll hear his take and get a very clear idea of why.
To my mind, the best aspect of the movie is that it is certain to get more readers to his books. And I think that it might actually help create more readers in the general population. The Jack Reacher books are extremely addictive and smart. They'll lead new readers in the right direction. Listeners who want to hear what Lee Childe has to say about seeing his own work on screen, and how he gets it written in the first place, need but follow this link to the MP3 audio file.
12-17-12:A 2012 Interview with Lee Child
Click image for audio link.
"To me, there is only one draft."
— Lee Child
I walked through water to speak to Lee Child about 'A Wanted Man.' It was pouring rain and the beautiful plazas between the buildings at Google's campus were flooded beyond what I might have thought was possible. It was almost 2" deep in some places. I was carrying a satchel with books and notes, a case with mic stands and a case with my trusty retro Marantz PMD670 Digital recorder, made back in the stone ages before every damn digital recorder had to shrink to the size of a pack of cigarettes.
Once I got out of the rain, the Google gig went incredibly well. They have an outstanding staff who made it easy for met to get set up and easy to do the presentation, which you can see on video here. Now is the time to visit the Google site and leave comments to the effect if you would like to see a Writers At Google With Agony Column Interlocution You Tube Channel. Unlike many of the books I cover here, this is not science fiction. It's the power of the crowd, and I'd love to have your support.
The Google gigs have a strict structure, however, and as an interviewer, I have my own way of working in a one-on-one interview. After the gig, Lee Child and I popped over to a convenient Lobby and sat down to talk about the questions I did not have a chance to ask during the Google presentation.
It will come as no surprise to readers that Lee Child has a voice, that is, a sense of diction, that is only slightly more talkative than that of Jack Reacher. He's incredibly smart and very concise. When we spoke, he made some pretty startling statements. He only writes one draft of a novel, an he does not go back to revise. He talked about Umberto Eco as an influence in this regard, a reference I did not expect to come up.
If you are wondering, it was my intuition that during the Google presentation, if I did not ask about the movie, it would give one of the audience members a chance to do so. That indeed came to pass, so the short of it is that he had the choice to veto the lead — and chose not to. He had confidence in the direction and screenplay since the director and many in the crew were "Reacher Creatures."
We were lucky enough to be joined by Maggie Griffith, who works with Child, keeping the many Reacher fans happy with the website and making sure that books get where they need to be. If you're a Jack Reacher fan, then chances are she has made your reading experience better. I certainly know that she made things work like clockwork at Google.