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John Grisham participated in his first ever online chat on Thursday, February 3, 2000 at 7pm ET. This transcript is taken directly from Yahoo!


Transcript: Chat with John Grisham, 02/03/00

Yahoomc: Welcome to Yahoo! Chat...Thriller-writer extraordinaire John Grisham...
Yahoomc: will be joining us to talk about his latest book...The Brethren!
Yahoomc: Start sending in your questions!
Yahoomc: Some say Grisham's latest is a bit of a departure from his usual legal thriller...
Yahoomc: but judge for yourself!
Yahoomc: Of course, Grisham is the master of the legal thriller...
Yahoomc: and his latest is already rocketing up the list. He's on an amazing streak...
Yahoomc: It seems every book he writes becomes a best-seller...
Yahoomc: and in many cases, a movie!
Yahoomc: If you haven't picked it up yet, The Brethren weaves together two plot threads...
Yahoomc: one involving three judges who are behind bars and the other involving a presidential candidate with a secret.
Yahoomc: Hey, it sounds like we are ready to start...John Grisham is joining us right now...
Yahoomc: and I'm told this is his first-ever online chat!
Yahoomc: Welcome to Yahoo! Chat, John Grisham!

john_grisham_live: Hello
john_grisham_live: I'm delighted to be in Yahoo! Chat room for my first ever online chat!

greatguy1955 asks: I just started the Brethren...who does your research I am from Jax and I have been to Pete's bar
john_grisham_live:
So have I.
john_grisham_live: I've been to Jacksonville twice.
john_grisham_live: Each Spring, we take my son's high school baseball team
john_grisham_live: to Jacksonville for Spring training to play some of the teams in Jax.
john_grisham_live: A couple of yea
rs ago we stayed at a hotel in Atlantic Beach and I became
john_grisham_live: very familiar with the territory.

torontoteen17 asks: Hi, as an author, who do you look up to for inspiration?
john_grisham_live: I don't think any other author inspires me to write.
john_grisham_live: There are some authors that I have always read and loved and admired.
john_grisham_live: I would love to be able to write as well as they do.
john_grisham_live: But the inspiration comes through the pressure of sitting down at 5 in the morning and
john_grisham_live: having to write several pages that day in a room with no phones
john_grisham_live: That's where the inspiration happens.

king_hatchepsut asks: I would like to know where his ideas come from for his next book, real life? newspapers? what?e
john_grisham_live: Real life.
john_grisham_live: I spend a lot of time reading newspapers and magazines and just following trends in law and trials
john_grisham_live: and lawsuits.
john_grisham_live: I spend a lot of time watching lawyers and when you do that there's always a lot of material.
john_grisham_live: (He's putting the dogs out of the house right now!)

rom18_2000 asks: What makes "the brethren" stand out from your other books?
john_grisham_live: Well, it's about judges as opposed to lawyers. There's a real strong element of politics
john_grisham_live: Part of the backdrop is a presidential campaign which is new territory for me.
john_grisham_live: The other setting is prison.
john_grisham_live: I've never really set half a book in prison.
john_grisham_live: I think those things make it different from the other books.
john_grisham_live: It was fun to write. The last two books were kind of heavy with issues. So my wife said to stop preaching for a while and have fun.
john_grisham_live: The book was also probably the funniest one I've written.

lynnie_1 asks: How old were you when you decided that writing law novels was better than being a lawyer?
john_grisham_live: I did not dream of being a writer or aspire to be a writer when I was a kid or even a student.
john_grisham_live: It came later in life.
john_grisham_live: I had been practicing law for about three years
john_grisham_live: when I started writing the first book -
john_grisham_live: A Time to Kill.
john_grisham_live: Even then, I didn't really have a dream of being a full time writer
john_grisham_live: until about 5 years later when I finished writing The Firm.
john_grisham_live: The Firm just sort of exploded overnight.
john_grisham_live: At some point about 10 years ago I woke up and decided
john_grisham_live: I'm tired of being a lawyer, I want to be a writer.
john_grisham_live: But it was after I'd written two books.

s_ennaoj asks: what was the hardest book for you to write?
john_grisham_live: The Chamber was a mess.
john_grisham_live: It legally and procedurally became difficult.
john_grisham_live: As a lawyer, I had never been through a Death Penalty Appeal case
john_grisham_live: so I was not familiar with that type of chaotic, frenetic litigation
john_grisham_live: that comes to a rapid close.
john_grisham_live: Also I didn't know the story was going to turn out to be so heavy.
john_grisham_live: I got kind of caught up in it emotionally because when I started writing the book I was very much in favor of the death penalty
john_grisham_live: So researching the book and writing the book forced me to confront a very difficult issue.
john_grisham_live: So I think The Chamber has been by far the toughest book to write.
john_grisham_live: Not yet.

nifty50_26 asks: Do you find it overwhelming to sit down and write?
john_grisham_live: Not yet.
john_grisham_live: It's still fun.
john_grisham_live: The words and ideas are still coming fast.
john_grisham_live: Every year when it's time to start a new book, there are two or three good ideas to sift through and make
john_grisham_live: a selection and push the button and go.
john_grisham_live: It's still fun.
john_grisham_live: And I hope that one day when it's not fun, that I'll quit.

the_anomic_prophet asks: What would you consider your best work to date?
john_grisham_live: Probably A Time to Kill.
john_grisham_live: It was written over a 3 year period with no deadlines and with the uncertainty if it would ever be read
john_grisham_live: by anybody other than my wife.
john_grisham_live: And so I wrote it to please nobody but me.
john_grisham_live: And it was the most autobiographical. For ten years I was a lawyer very much like Jake
john_grisham_live: in a Time to Kill.
john_grisham_live: And I think there's probably a strong sentimental attachment to the book.

lynda_courtrep asks: Do you miss practicing law and having your own "law experiences" to draw from when you write?
john_grisham_live: I have yet to miss practicing law.
john_grisham_live: I still occasionally draw on memories that are becoming more and more distant.
john_grisham_live: But as I said earlier, I still spend a lot of time observing the law and lawyers.
john_grisham_live: I still have my license to practice law.
john_grisham_live: I pay my dues every year to the state of Mississippi
john_grisham_live: and still think of myself as a lawyer.

zenngirrl asks: I hope you never tire of being a writer.
john_grisham_live: Thank you.
john_grisham_live: I'm under contract for several more books.
john_grisham_live: I can't stop now!

nifty50_26 asks: Do you go see the movies made from your books?
john_grisham_live: Oh sure.
john_grisham_live: We get to see them before they come out and have even had a chance to comment on
john_grisham_live: a couple of them.
john_grisham_live: During the process, when they were editing.
john_grisham_live: I've had overall pretty good success with Hollywood.
john_grisham_live: 6 movies and 5 have been enjoyable.

truenorthfree asks: Which movie do you think has been the best adaptation of one of your books?
john_grisham_live: Rainmaker.
john_grisham_live: It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola
john_grisham_live: and it was just very true to the novel
john_grisham_live: which is of course important to me.
john_grisham_live: It had the terrible misfortune of being released the week before Titanic.
john_grisham_live: So it sort of got lost in the ocean with Titanic.
ChatYahoo_Lisa: Are there any you didn't enjoy?
john_grisham_live: Did not like The Chamber at all.
john_grisham_live: It was a train wreck from the very beginning.
john_grisham_live: I never went to the set.
john_grisham_live: I never met the people making the movie.
john_grisham_live: I read some of the early scripts and knew that it was headed down the toilet.
john_grisham_live: And I was very gratified when nobody went to see it.
john_grisham_live: That sounds kind of mean, but oh well.

sailin_shoes79 asks: Would you consider playing a part in one of the movies?
john_grisham_live: Never. Never.
john_grisham_live: I cannot act.
john_grisham_live: I do not want to learn how.
john_grisham_live: And would not want to screw up another good movie.

nifty50_26 asks: What authors do you read now? Do you read a lot?
john_grisham_live: Now I am reading two books
john_grisham_live: The Autobiography of Mark Twain and Tortilla Flats by John Steinbeck -
john_grisham_live: who is probably my favorite all time author.
john_grisham_live: I just finished Personal Injuries by Scott Turow. Very good book.
john_grisham_live: I tend to read writers who are now dead.
john_grisham_live: Dickens and Mark Twain and Steinbeck, occasionally Faulkner.
john_grisham_live: Contemporary authors Scott Turow,
john_grisham_live: Pat Conroy
john_grisham_live: John Le Carre
john_grisham_live: Do I read a lot?
john_grisham_live: I start reading two or three books a week and I finish

zerbluker asks: Does your wife offer any input into your books (editing or just suggestions)?
john_grisham_live: Plenty.
ChatYahoo_Lisa: Is it all welcome?
john_grisham_live: It can be rather contentious around here!
john_grisham_live: Kids have all grown up hearing Mom and Dad have some rather heated discussions
john_grisham_live: about the books.
john_grisham_live: But she reads everything now and I always listen.
john_grisham_live: Unfortunately, she's almost always right.
john_grisham_live: That can be very irritating!

Trudy27F asks: It's a little surprising to hear you being so honest about the movies, but what's been (other than seeing your work on film) the neatest thing you've had the opportunity to participate in now that you are a best selling author?
john_grisham_live: Wow. Outside of being an author,
john_grisham_live: the success has enabled me to do pretty much whatever I want to do.
john_grisham_live: The neatest thing I've done with the money has been to build my own Little League baseball park.
john_grisham_live: It has six fields, 500 kids, 40 teams.
john_grisham_live: And I am the commissioner.
john_grisham_live: I own it and I get to run the place.
john_grisham_live: It's now 5 years old and it's been a wonderful experience to spend that much time with kids.
john_grisham_live: In publishing, the neatest thing has been to see that books become popular around the world.
john_grisham_live: Each book is now translated into about 35 languages.
john_grisham_live: And it's a real "trip" to go to other countries and realize that books are popular there too.

dale_jdc asks: ever think of incorporating baseball in a novel
john_grisham_live: I would love to.
john_grisham_live: I plan to.
john_grisham_live: I would love to write two baseball stories.
john_grisham_live: One for kids and one for adults.
john_grisham_live: I've wanted to for ten years
john_grisham_live: and I'm just waiting on the right stories.
john_grisham_live: Inspiration so far has failed me when it comes to baseball.

LilLindaP asks: You have created some very interesting characters in your books. Are they based on "real people"?
john_grisham_live: Rarely.
john_grisham_live: Very, very rarely.
john_grisham_live: occasionally I will sort of piece together into one character bits and pieces of several others that I knew.
john_grisham_live: Especially the lawyers and judges
john_grisham_live: They can become composites of people I knew.
john_grisham_live: But that is becoming more rare because I've been out of the business for so long.

wordsmith_1998 asks: How often do you write? Is it on a daily basis?
john_grisham_live: I don't write every day of the year.
john_grisham_live: I don't write every week of the year.
john_grisham_live: I usually spend the springtime
john_grisham_live: thinking about the next book
john_grisham_live: and maybe outlining the next book.
john_grisham_live: In summer I'll start writing a page or two a day.
john_grisham_live: Usually that's around 6 or 7 in the morning.
john_grisham_live: So around Labor Day I hope to have 200 pages of a 500 page manuscript written.
john_grisham_live: When the kids start school after Labor Day, I go into my cave for 2 months at 5 or 6 in the morning with nothing
john_grisham_live: but some really strong coffee until noon.
john_grisham_live: On a good day I'll do 10 pages of manuscript.
john_grisham_live: On a slow day 5 0r 6.
john_grisham_live: Maybe a few pages on the weekend.
john_grisham_live: I hope to have a good draft by November 1.
john_grisham_live: I usually want 500 pages because that's the length of book I want to read.
john_grisham_live: We spend the month of Nov. doing revisions which is tedious but necessary.
john_grisham_live: By Dec. 1 the book is on the way to the printer - it takes a while.
john_grisham_live: We shoot for a publication date of Feb. or March 1.
john_grisham_live: I'll do some book signings right now.
john_grisham_live: When the dust settles in a month or so I'll start thinking about the next book.
john_grisham_live: I already have some ideas.
john_grisham_live: It's a never ending process when you write a book a year.
john_grisham_live: You're either writing the book or thinking about the book.
john_grisham_live: That's kind of how it happens.

jusjeremy asks: mr. grisham. . .why did u end the partner the way u did? with the girl deserting him?
john_grisham_live: Well I've heard that question before in the past 3 years a number of times.
john_grisham_live: As I wrote The Partner, I had two endings in mind.
john_grisham_live: The ending most people expected and the ending they eventually read.
john_grisham_live: Either one would have worked.
john_grisham_live: One criticism that has always bothered me and continues to bother me - and I'm about as immune to criticism as a writer can get because I've been hammered so badly for ten years -
john_grisham_live: is that the books are so predictable.
john_grisham_live: So with The Partner, I chose the unpredictable.
john_grisham_live: Frankly I was worried about it when I did it.
john_grisham_live: I'm worried about it now.
john_grisham_live: I'm not sure it was fair to the reader.
john_grisham_live: But it was three years ago.

kimlwertz asks: how about a baseball book with the "evil: machinations of salary arbitration
john_grisham_live: I've though of a couple of stories involving really superbly gifted kids from very humble
john_grisham_live: backgrounds who get caught up in the machinery of professional baseball and sports.
john_grisham_live: Most of these kids are not prepared to deal with it.
john_grisham_live: But you read about that stuff everyday.
john_grisham_live: and I'm not sure I can improve upon real life.
john_grisham_live: And I want to write a good baseball story, not a bad one.
john_grisham_live: When I write about it, it won't be about pro baseball - it will be about youth baseball
john_grisham_live: or highschool baseball or even minor league baseball, not pro baseball.
john_grisham_live: I'm not a big fan of pro baseball.

Zoom_ATL asks: Tell us about your wonderful new novel being serialized in THE OXFORD AMERICAN!
john_grisham_live: Thank you for asking!
john_grisham_live: I
john_grisham_live: am having more fun writing this novel than any ever.
john_grisham_live: It's called A Painted House.
john_grisham_live: It is being published in six installments in a magazine called the Oxford American
john_grisham_live: which is based in Oxford Mississippi.
john_grisham_live: It is a highly fictionalized childhood memoir.
john_grisham_live: A whole lot more fiction than fact.
john_grisham_live: The first installment came out in January and
john_grisham_live: the next five will come out every other month for the rest of this year.
john_grisham_live: I just finished writing the second installment and am now working on the third.
john_grisham_live: I'm having a whole lot of fun writing them.
john_grisham_live: There's not a single lawyer in the story.
john_grisham_live: Not a ONE!

lucindacasson asks: Darby Shaw was your only protagonist who was "pure" and simply stumbled onto something. Why did you elect to make her that way, but none of the others?
john_grisham_live: Darby was not the only pure protagonist.
john_grisham_live: Adam Hall in The Chamber
john_grisham_live: Michael Brock in The Street Lawyer
john_grisham_live: Mark Sway in The Client
john_grisham_live: I think those were all protagonists with little or no baggage
john_grisham_live: When I start writing a novel, I don't look for a protagonist
john_grisham_live: who is perfect or flawed. I just look for somebody who is going to be likable and believable
john_grisham_live: and somebody you can pull for.

celestergreen_2000 asks: Are you going to write a sequel to The Partner? You left us hanging!
john_grisham_live: I have no plans to write sequels to any of the books.
john_grisham_live: But plans can change.
john_grisham_live: One day I may wake up and have a horrible case of writers block so I'll have to wake up and revive some of these old folks.
john_grisham_live: Sequels rarely work, whether they're in novels or in film.

MagRoc asks: Do you have final approval of who will portray the characters from your books on the big screen?
john_grisham_live: I had such approval's in A Time to Kill,
john_grisham_live: and The Runaway Jury which is a movie yet to be filmed.
john_grisham_live: Those were the only two.

TDP_ asks: Do you think you are better at being an author, now, than you were when you started writing?
john_grisham_live: Tough question.
john_grisham_live: I know that when I start every new book, I want it to be better than the last book.
john_grisham_live: But it's impossible for me to say that because it's hard to judge your own stuff.
john_grisham_live: And I just can't do that.

patty57_1999 asks: Mr. Grisham your characters are unique and unforgettable. How do you go about creating them?
john_grisham_live: Well thank you Patty. That's very nice.
john_grisham_live: First and foremost, they have to be believable.
john_grisham_live: When you meet a character in a story, whether it's a major character or a minor character, I want
john_grisham_live: the reader to believe that he or she has met this person or could meet this person because this person
john_grisham_live: is believable.
john_grisham_live: That's how I create the people.

karma_104 asks: do you write with pen and paper, manual typewrite, electronic typewriter or computer?
john_grisham_live: It's a computer.
john_grisham_live: I use Word Perfect software that I've been using for ten years.
john_grisham_live: It's a 17 inch monitor/color - that probably needs to go to 21 inch.

bobbiosmit asks: Do you have any novels in the waiting that you are anxious to write?
john_grisham_live: Yeah, I got a couple of really good ones.
john_grisham_live: I want to go back to Brazil and write a book set in the Amazon basin.
john_grisham_live: In the rain forests.
john_grisham_live: And describe the devastation and destruction of the rain forests.
john_grisham_live: I want to write that one.
john_grisham_live: And there are a lot of stories to be told out of Ford County which is the fictional county I used in A Time To Kill - the southern gothic novels.
john_grisham_live: i could probably tell those stories forever.
john_grisham_live: One day I'll probably go back there and tell some more stories.

DR97FT asks: How many Book signings do you do a year?
john_grisham_live: Six
john_grisham_live: I go back to the same stores every year.
john_grisham_live: Oxford, Miss.
john_grisham_live: Tupelo, MS
john_grisham_live: Memphis,
john_grisham_live: Blytheville, Arkansas.
john_grisham_live: And those are stores that I've been to now for 11 books.
john_grisham_live: They're old friends and I couldn't publish a book without going to those stores and seeing those friends.
john_grisham_live: I don't tour much because I stick pretty close to home
john_grisham_live: because I'm either writing or running my Little League Ballpark or coaching the kids.

linsues asks: Who was your own personal favorite character?
john_grisham_live: Oh gosh, that's tough, really tough.
john_grisham_live: Jake in A Time to Kill is sort of autobiographical
john_grisham_live: I really identify with him and I wrote that story for him.
john_grisham_live: But I think of the character Deck in Rainmaker, played by Danny Devito in the movie.
john_grisham_live: He chases ambulances and goes to hospitals and can't even pass the bar exam.
john_grisham_live: I like the character in The Partner who fakes his death and steals money - and goes to Brazil.
john_grisham_live: We all dream of escaping.
john_grisham_live: There are a lot of favorites.

bz14_1999 asks: Dad, what is your idea for the next book?
john_grisham_live: Another juicy lawyer tell. Probably set in Ford County, Mississippi. Now that's after I finish writing A Painted House.

MagRoc asks: Have you ever considered teaching?
john_grisham_live: I enjoy occasionally speaking ot High School students who want to write or creative writing students in colleges
john_grisham_live: but after an hour of being in a classroom with students, I'm ready to go for a five mile run.
john_grisham_live: I can't imagine doing that all day long and having to grade papers and give assignments.
john_grisham_live: Teachers are remarkable people - it's just something I couldn't do.
john_grisham_live: I've never been gifted to teach.

shortwave1 asks: Mr. Grisham, sir, did you ever take any writing courses?
john_grisham_live: Never.
john_grisham_live: I never took a writing course because I never thought about writing.
john_grisham_live: It was not a dream or an ambition.
john_grisham_live: And I just never thought about it.
john_grisham_live: One day I just started writing a story that became A Time to Kill
john_grisham_live: and I wrote The Firm and everything went crazy.

the_anomic_prophet asks: What would you consider the most interesting historical court case?
john_grisham_live: Interesting? Well several come to mind.
john_grisham_live: The Lindbergh Baby kidnapping case was incredibly interesting.
john_grisham_live: The Nuremberg trials were incredibly important.
john_grisham_live: Scopes evolution trial where you had two great lawyers going to battle every day.
john_grisham_live: The OJ Simpson case simply because of the unparalleled coverage of a celebrity murder - the implications of money and race.
john_grisham_live: As a culture we are just absorbed in courtroom dramas.
john_grisham_live: We have a trial of the century every month now.
ChatYahoo_Lisa: Do you watch CourtTV
john_grisham_live: No. I'm always busy during the day.
john_grisham_live: I see the ads for Judge Judy and one day she has a divorce and the next day she has a kidnapping.
john_grisham_live: That stuff can't be real.
john_grisham_live: She should sit on the UN.
john_grisham_live: I just don't believe that stuff.

nannio asks: Have you ever considered going into politics?
john_grisham_live: I did. I served two terms in the Mississippi House of Reps from 1984-1990.
john_grisham_live: I got a good dose of it and have no desire to reenter that quagmire. I enjoy following politics.
john_grisham_live: But I would never again have my name put on a ballot.

jjsweethome asks: Did mom make a big mark on your life?
john_grisham_live: Sure.
john_grisham_live: In many many ways
john_grisham_live: but with reference to books and writing she did not believe in tv.
john_grisham_live: And when I was a kid we watched very little of it and once a week she'd march us to the library and would check out as many books as we could.
john_grisham_live: And I grew up reading.
john_grisham_live: That was bound to have an impact.
john_grisham_live: She never encouraged me to write.

camwen asks: Do you watch Ally McBeal or The Practice?
john_grisham_live: I don't watch television. I just do not watch it.
john_grisham_live: I stopped several years ago and occasionally I'll watch or see a program or walk through the den and somebody's watching a program and just
john_grisham_live: have no desire.
john_grisham_live: Most of it's incredibly stupid.
john_grisham_live: I saw the season premiere of Ally McBeal promo in a newspaper and she was having sex in a car with a stranger. That doesn't happen to many lawyers I know.
john_grisham_live: It's just incredibly stupid and I have no desire to watch it.
john_grisham_live: Given the choice of sitting down at night and watching a tv show or reading a magazine or even watching a ballgame, I just don't want to get caught up in a tv show.

lynda_courtrep asks: You once told me at a book signing that you hadn't given any thought to writing children's books. Have you changed your mind yet?
john_grisham_live: I have not changed my mind.
john_grisham_live: That is a form of writing, a form of art that I"m not sure I can handle.
john_grisham_live: The answer is no.

logtrader asks: I read that you and Stephen King are friends. How did this come about since you are so different from each other?
john_grisham_live: We met in New York about six or seven years ago.
john_grisham_live: Each year they have the National Book Awards which is kind of like the Oscars for books.
john_grisham_live: It's also known as Egos R Us.
john_grisham_live: Pretty serious stuff for book people
john_grisham_live: Stephen King decided to buy a table and he called me up and told me to put on a tux and we'd go stink up the place.
john_grisham_live: And I said it sounds like fun and we had a wonderful time
john_grisham_live: and he came to Oxford where we lived at the time
john_grisham_live: and he participated in a book fair.
john_grisham_live: It's always nice to have a guy like Stephen King who has been through everything in publishing and have someone to bounce things off of.
john_grisham_live: Fortunately or unfortunately not too many people find themselves in the position to be bestselling authors and it's kind of nice to have someone to talk to.

jaxonmc asks: How about a book signing in Olive Branch? Your friend Jack Mc
john_grisham_live: I don't think there's a book store in Olive Branch. I have a lot of friends in Olive Branch and Desoto.
john_grisham_live: That's kind of my home county and I haven't been there in some time.

dysnomia99 asks: I need a good lawyer...want to be mine?
john_grisham_live: Well, no I do not want to be your lawyer.
john_grisham_live: I had to go back to the courtroom about 4 years ago and tried my last case
john_grisham_live: and when I left the court room that day, I said Never Again, and I meant it.

mflyingfreak asks: What is your next book and when will it be out?
john_grisham_live: The Brethren was published yesterday.
john_grisham_live: It's my 11th novel.
john_grisham_live: The Brethren is a small group of three ex-judged
john_grisham_live: judges who are serving time together in a federal prison
john_grisham_live: also very bright.
john_grisham_live: And they start creating these scams to extort money out of innocent people
john_grisham_live: on the outside.
john_grisham_live: The scams become very successful and they make a lot of money.
john_grisham_live: They become even more ambitious and aggressive.
john_grisham_live: One of their scams snares a powerful person and their quiet days in prison come to an end
john_grisham_live: and they find themselves in all kinds of trouble.
john_grisham_live: That's all I can tell you.

ChatYahoo_Lisa: Thank you for joining us!
ChatYahoo_Lisa: The Brethren, Mr. Grisham's latest novel, was published yesterday
ChatYahoo_Lisa: I read an advance copy -- it's great!