Grisham goes against his blueprint

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Whoever said a tiger couldn’t change his stripes didn’t have John Grisham in mind.
After nearly 25 years of writing best-selling legal thrillers like “A Time to Kill,” “The Firm” and “The Client,” the novelist and Mississippi native decided to try his hand at writing a novel aimed at school-age children.
Grisham was at Reed’s Gum Tree Bookstore on Wednesday to sign 2,000 copies of “Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer,” the first in a series of books about an inquisitive 13-year-old boy who dreams of working in a courtroom.
The book is aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds, and it’s one that required Grisham to step out of his comfort zone.
“As my career matures I get more curious about writing different types of books,” Grisham said while signing a pile of books. “I had a character in mind for this 13-year-old kid who wanted to be either a judge or a lawyer. I really enjoyed writing this book, but it was harder than my usual works and much easier at the same time.”
The plot of “Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer” isn’t as complicated as his legal thrillers, said Grisham, but it was more challenging to write for the younger audience.
“I don’t read young fiction anymore, so I had to be careful about the types of adventures Theodore could have,” said Grisham. “I didn’t know how much danger or suspense would have been OK to put a 13-year-old through. Having raised two kids and remembering back to when they were that age and remembering myself at that age, I got a good idea of what kids think at that age and the types of questions they ask.”
Grisham hopes his latest book spikes an interest in reading for children, even if it’s through online reading sources like eBooks. Since March, all of Grisham’s previously published books have been converted to eBooks.
“Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer” is expected to be placed on eBooks in about two months.
Being what he termed a technological Neanderthal, Grisham said he’s not foolish enough to discount the new technology.
“Bet against technology and you will lose, so I know it’s something that isn’t going away,” said Grisham. “Honestly, I don’t know where online books are going to take us. There will always be hardback books, I think.
“But I think if everyone reads electronic books, it’s going to be harder for young writers to get published. If everyone reads online, publishers and bookstores will die out.”
Grisham is already working on the second installment of Theodore Boone, but he hasn’t dropped his bread and butter. His newest thriller, “The Confession,” will hit bookshelves in October.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.