John Grisham, bestselling thriller author, signing copies of The Associate
Date and location:
- 1/27/09 7:00 PM at Barnes & Noble – Union Square. New York, NY.
John Ray Grisham (born February 8, 1955) is an American ex-politician, retired attorney and novelist, best known for his works of modern legal drama. As of 2008, his books have sold over 250 million copies worldwide.
Biography and career
John Grisham, the second oldest of five siblings, was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to Southern Baptist parents of modest means. His father worked as a construction worker and a cotton farmer; his mother was a homemaker. After moving frequently, the family settled in 1967 in the town of Southaven in DeSoto County, Mississippi, where Grisham graduated from Southaven High School. He played as a quarterback for the school football team. Unlike the main character in his 2003 novel, Bleachers, he wasn’t an All-American football player. Encouraged by his mother, the young Grisham was an avid reader, and was especially influenced by the work of John Steinbeck whose clarity he admired.
In 1977 Grisham received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from Mississippi State University. Grisham tried out for the baseball team at Delta State University, but was cut by the coach, who was former Boston Red Sox pitcher, Dave Ferriss. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981. During law school Grisham switched interests from tax law to criminal and general civil litigation. Upon graduation he entered a small-town general law practice for nearly a decade in Southaven, where he focused on criminal law and civil law representing a broad spectrum of clients. As a young attorney he spent much of his time in court proceedings.
In 1983 he was elected as a Democrat to the Mississippi House of Representatives, where he served until 1990. During his time as a legislator, he continued his private law practice in Southaven. He has donated over $100,000 to Democratic Party candidates. In September, 2007 Grisham appeared with Hillary Rodham Clinton, his choice for U.S. President in 2008, and former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, whom Grisham supports for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican John Warner (no relation). Grisham himself had considered challenging former GOP U.S. Senator George Allen, Jr. in the 2006 election in which Allen was narrowly defeated by the Democrat James Webb.
Inspiration for first novel
In 1984 at the DeSoto County courthouse in Hernando, Grisham witnessed the harrowing testimony of a 12-year-old rape victim. According to Grisham’s official website, Grisham used his spare time to begin work on his first novel, which “explored what would have happened if the girl’s father had murdered her assailants.” He “spent three years on A Time to Kill and finished it in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, the manuscript was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who gave it a modest 5,000-copy printing and published it in June 1988.”
The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on another novel, the story of a young attorney “lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared.” That second book, The Firm, became the 7th bestselling novel of 1991. Grisham then went on to produce at least one work a year, most of them wildly popular bestsellers. He is the only person to author a number-one bestselling novel of the year for seven consecutive years (1994–2000).
Beginning with A Painted House in 2001, the author broadened his focus from law to the more general rural south, while continuing to pen his legal thrillers.
Publishers Weekly declared Grisham “the bestselling novelist of the 90s,” selling a total of 60,742,289 copies. He is also one of only a few authors to sell two million copies on a first printing; others include Tom Clancy and J.K. Rowling. Grisham’s 1992 novel The Pelican Brief sold 11,232,480 copies in the United States alone.
A shelf of John Grisham’s books
* A Time to Kill (1989), ISBN 0-922-06603-5
* The Firm (1991), ISBN 0-385-41634-2
* The Pelican Brief (1992), ISBN 0-385-42198-2
* The Client (1993), ISBN 0-385-42471-X
* The Chamber (1994), ISBN 0-385-42472-8
* The Rainmaker (1995), ISBN 0-385-42473-6
* The Runaway Jury (1996), ISBN 0-385-47294-3
* The Partner (1997), ISBN 0-385-47295-1
* The Street Lawyer (1998), ISBN 0-385-49099-2
* The Testament (1999), ISBN 0-385-49380-0
* The Brethren (2000), ISBN 0-385-49748-2
* The Summons (2002), ISBN 0-385-50382-2
* The King of Torts (2003), ISBN 0-385-50804-2
* The Last Juror (2004), ISBN 0-385-51043-8
* The Broker (2005), ISBN 0-385-51045-4
* The Appeal (2008), ISBN 0-385-51504-7
* The Associate (January 27, 2009), ISBN 0-7393-2823-9
* A Painted House (2001), ISBN 0-385-33793-0
* Skipping Christmas (2002), ISBN 0-385-50624-4
* Bleachers (2003), ISBN 0-385-51161-2
* Playing for Pizza (2007), ISBN 0-385-52500-1
* The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town (2006), ISBN 0-385-51723-8
Films based on his novels
* The Firm (1993)
* The Pelican Brief (1993)
* The Client (1994)
* A Time to Kill (1996)
* The Chamber (1996)
* The Rainmaker (1997)
* The Gingerbread Man (1998) Based on an unpublished short story
* A Painted House (2003)
* Runaway Jury (2003)
* Mickey (2004) Original screenplay by John Grisham
* Christmas with the Kranks (2004) Based on the novel ‘Skipping Christmas’
John Grisham Quotes
* “My success was not planned, but it could only happen in America.”
* “Everything I’m thinking about writing now is about politics or social issues wrapped around a novel.”
* “I’m a famous writer in a country where nobody reads.”
Thank you to Lee, who runs the Book Signings & Events