The Reacher Guy is a life of bestselling superstar Lee Child, a portrait of the artist as a young man, refracted through the life of his fictional avatar, Jack Reacher. It tells the story of how the boy from Birmingham reinvented himself to become the strongest brand in publishing, selling over one hundred million books in more than forty different languages across the globe.
Heather Martin interviews friends, teachers, colleagues and neighbours, including agents and editors. Based
primarily on her conversations with the author over a period of years, together with readings of his books and research in his literary archive, this authorised biography reveals the man behind the myth, tracing his origins back through the generations to Northern Ireland and County Durham, and following the trajectory of his extraordinary career via New York and Hollywood until the climactic moment when, in 2020, having written a continuous series of twenty-four books, he finally floats free of his fictional creation.
Lee Child comments: “I met Heather Martin some years ago, and we started talking about why people love telling and hearing stories. To get more depth and detail we started talking about why I do. Eventually I said, ‘If you want to really get to the bottom of it, you’re going to have to write my biography.’ So she did. It was a fun and illuminating process. I had forgotten a lot, and it was fascinating to be reminded. Now it all makes sense.”
Heather Martin was born in West Australia. She grew up in Aix-en-Provence, Paris, and Perth, where she would fall asleep to the sound of the Indian Ocean. She left Australia for England to become a classical guitarist but found herself singing with a Venezuelan folk group and learning to speak Spanish instead. She read Languages at Cambridge, where she also did a PhD in comparative literature, and has held teaching and research positions at Cambridge, Hull, King’s College London, and most recently, the Graduate Center, City University New York.
Heather is a long-time Reacher fan. While waiting to get her hands on the next in the series, she once read a Lee Child book in Spanish and wound up writing to the author about the fate of his character in translation. The Reacher Guy is her first biography.
My thoughts: I haven’t read many Reacher books, I think maybe 2 of them, but my dad and Grandad are fans and I’m always interested in how and why a writer started writing. A very slow start, honestly I would skip the first few chapters, that then got really interesting as Jim Grant became Lee Child and started writing his incredibly successful books. He seems very matter of fact about why he started writing and how he goes about creating each of them. I’m very interested to see how his younger brother handles taking over the mantle of Jack Reacher writer in chief.
There were some very funny moments, especially when talking about publishing and funny things that happen when a famous but not necessarily recognisable writer starts travelling around the world and meeting fans. I liked the story about when Lee was at an airport and said to someone reading a Reacher book “I’ve heard the rest are really good too”, if that person recognises themselves, they’re going to be very puzzled, I know I would be.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.