I was fired at the age of 40 from my previous job in television, and decided to write Killing Floor, the first novel featuring Jack Reacher. Now 19 books later, I'm still doing a job I love. I'm looking forward to taking your questions.

My latest Jack Reacher novel out today is PERSONAL. Visit me at www.LeeChild.com.

Here is my proof: https://twitter.com/atrandom/status/506872532998582272

Comments: 1104 • Responses: 39  • Date: 

exwasstalking387 karma

How did Tom Cruise fit your vision of Jack? I thought it was a really enjoyable role for him but I'm curious of your opinion.

AuthorLeeChild719 karma

Hi folks - thanks for your questions! For all those asking about Mr. Cruise ... certainly we all knew (and him, too) that he didn't match the physical description of Reacher in the books. But who would? In the end we wanted an actor good enough to do the internals, and the vibe, and the feel, and I thought Cruise nailed all that dead on.

oojaymanoo265 karma

Are there plans for a Jack Reacher sequel film?

AuthorLeeChild534 karma

Shooting in April 2015 I think.

jasonml214 karma

Hi sir, you rule. I'm trying to write a novel but I'm kind of stuck.

Do you ever feel like giving up halfway? I know the story by heart, and how it's going to end and all, but I'm kind of just stuck on one page and I'm not sure how to continue. How would you suggest I overcome this? Thank you!

AuthorLeeChild631 karma

Skip that page and fill it in later.

AuthorLeeChild126 karma

OK folks, gotta go now ... thanks for your questions, and thanks for being here on Reddit!

T1mac102 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA.

Two questions: One of Jack Reacher’s distinctive traits is he travels with only a folding toothbrush and the clothes on his back. Where it you come up with that idea, and have you ever tried to take a trip with only a toothbrush and the clothes you’re wearing?

Second: A common element in your stories, especially in some of your earlier books, is where Jack comes up with a theory of what is happening that turns out to be categorically wrong. He only finds out the truth toward the end of the book after he follows many false leads. Did you think you were taking a risk making your lead character so fallible?

AuthorLeeChild173 karma

The "traveling light" was a thought process of my own ... how would this guy deal with the practicalities of living? I don't travel exactly that light - but close!

The fallibility thing ... I think it makes him more human and realistic. We all make mistakes, and I like a guy big enough to admit it.

bonobohobo2791 karma

Do you have any tips that you live to give for aspiring authors?

AuthorLeeChild340 karma

Here's my tip - don't follow tips. A book needs to be organic - 110% the product of one mind only. If you follow advice, you'll end up with committee decisions.

oojaymanoo84 karma

Hi Lee,

Love the Reacher series! Do any parts of Reacher fit your personality?

AuthorLeeChild215 karma

He's mostly autobiographical.

AuthorLeeChild178 karma

He's mostly autobiographical.

AuthorLeeChild155 karma

He's mostly autobiographical.

dontdrinkvinegar77 karma

Lee, thank you so much for doing this!

Can I ask whether you've ever talked to David Baldacci about Reacher vs. Puller and the similarities that his character had to yours? For what it's worth, I LOVED what did you in A Wanted Man with Officer Puller, and I know a lot of other fans did, too. It was a classy, funny way to address the whole thing.

AuthorLeeChild98 karma

I haven't - but I think David got the message I wasn't very pleased!

itsgallus64 karma

What's Jack Reacher's favorite color?

AuthorLeeChild110 karma


ruttt60 karma

Jack knows about greasy diners and cheap motels - what do you know about them?

AuthorLeeChild93 karma

Plenty. I eat at diners all the time and have stayed in many, many $20 motels.

ZincHead54 karma

How do you feel about movies taking artistic liberties with the source material? Do you think that a movie should try it's best to match the source material perfectly, or is it okay for a director to change it up and add his own style?

AuthorLeeChild153 karma

Changes are inevitable - mostly because of length - and a movie is only a version or an interpretation. The words in the book don't magically change the day the movie is released. So I'm fine with changing it up. I mean, for example, which would you prefer to listen to - a clone of an old song, or an imaginative cover version?

EB303151 karma

What is your all-time favourite book, movie and TV show?

AuthorLeeChild122 karma

Book - Sophie's Choice by William Styron. Movie - Se7en TV show - right now, either Homeland, or The Americans. Or Yankees baseball. Or Premier League soccer from the UK, on NBC.

mgoflash37 karma

As a Yankee fan and a Reacher fan I fell you must feature Yankee Stadium in a future book...please?

AuthorLeeChild127 karma

You bet. I'll do it if I can. I'm there on 9/10, throwing out the first pitch.

nechered48 karma

My girlfriend is a huge fan (HUGE) of the Jack Reacher series (she is reading the book right now).

She has two questions for you:
Are all the places (the small towns, etc) in the series real? And do you travel to some of the places (ex Paris) when you are writing?

AuthorLeeChild67 karma

The small towns are real-ish ... often they're mash-ups of two or more different places. I don't travel for the purpose of taking notes, but you can be sure I've been there sometime previously.

MagnifyingGlass42 karma

I especially enjoyed reading the books about Jacks past in the military, do you have any plans to right more set during that (or earlier) time in his life?

AuthorLeeChild64 karma

I never make plans ahead - but I agree, another military prequel would be fun for me, too.

Archangel_11738 karma

If you ran into someone that had never read your books, and didn't know your character at all, which book would you suggest to them first? Killing floor as the first in published order, or Second Son as the first chronologically?

AuthorLeeChild61 karma

I think follow the order as written ... start with Killing Floor. Second Son is only a short story, and I think you'll appreciate it more if you've met the adult Reacher first.

shubhankara38 karma

Hi, Mr Child. I wanted to know about your process of writing. When do you write? Tell us something about your schedule. What kind of environments do you prefer? And, how do you find the motivation to keep going? Thanks in advance!

AuthorLeeChild178 karma

I write in the afternoons. (I have a personal motto: nothing of value is ever created in the morning.) I do 5 or 6 hours a day, for 80 or 90 days. I have a nice office at home. My motivation is you ... the people on this board right now. You pay me the enormous compliment of wanting more books, so naturally I want to make sure you get them.

jonemillard25 karma

What are some of the best books you've recently read?

AuthorLeeChild58 karma

Yesterday I read an advance copy of a book called "400 Things Cops Know" - and loved it. Out in October - check it out!

CCAZ25 karma

Do you see an end to the Jack Reacher series in the near future? Mostly, have you changed your mind about stopping at 21 novels as past interviews suggest?

AuthorLeeChild90 karma

That's up to you - you keep reading, I'll keep writing.

Maccas7525 karma

Hi Lee! How did you deal with the rejection of being fired from your job in television? What things inspired and motivated you following that?

AuthorLeeChild55 karma

The actual process of being replaced took two long years, so I had plenty of warning, and was totally over any bad feelings by the time the ax actually fell. After that, there was the urgent business of keeping a roof over my family's head ... plus the old saying: living well is the best revenge.

Isolder21 karma

What's your preferred medium for reading? Paperback, hardback, ebook, something else?

What's your favorite reading environment? I personally must have some place that is very very quiet. Clocks even drive me nuts.

AuthorLeeChild37 karma

Hardcovers or paperbacks, about equal for me. I don't need quiet. Fortunately, living in New York.

ThisIsMarklar19 karma

Hi Lee, thanks for doing this.

As a fellow Law graduate from the University of Sheffield, I'm inclined to ask; what were your motivations in getting a law degree, and was it always the plan to follow an alternative career to law?

AuthorLeeChild35 karma

Hey, fellow alumnus! I loved all kinds of subjects - history, politics, language, sociology, economics - and I suddenly realized the law is a snapshot of all those things at one particular time. So the law degree felt like flavors of all my favorite things rolled up together. I never wanted or intended to be a lawyer - which was great: no pressure!

crassy18 karma

Hi! I was introduced to your books last year and read them all in a few weeks. I am halfway through Personal now.

How long do you spend on research and what types of research do you do? Have you travelled extensively in the areas you've placed Reacher?

AuthorLeeChild36 karma

Research for me is all accidental - I will be somewhere, for some reason, and later it might crop up as a cool location for a book.

willdeb17 karma

How do you come up with the titles for your books?

AuthorLeeChild24 karma

It's a mysterious process - some of them pop up spontaneously, others get decided late, after a lot of searching.

maninbucket16 karma

Hi, how do you manage to write so many novels? Do you have a sort of set structure and then just fill in details , plot and characters?

AuthorLeeChild20 karma

It's only one a year, which isn't so bad. Each one is invented anew - no pattern, no formula.

TheStabbingHobo15 karma

What's your favorite candy bar and why?

AuthorLeeChild34 karma

Snickers - quick cheap lunch. What an author on the road depends on.

PeanutButterAstroguy15 karma

What do you eat for breakfast?

AuthorLeeChild40 karma

This morning I had Rice Krispies plus a slice of Entenmann's Raspberry Danish Twist, plus a pot of coffee.

bozobozo14 karma

What is your favorite dinosaur?

Also, what is Jack Reacher's favorite dinosaur?

AuthorLeeChild28 karma

I guess we both like T Rexes.

mgoflash13 karma

You've answered questions about favorite book, movie etc. How about what is your favorite book series?

AuthorLeeChild27 karma

Either Travis McGee by John D MacDonald, or Martin Beck by Maj Stowall and Per Wahloo.

StezzerLolz12 karma

Do you have an overarching character arc planned for Reacher - however subtle - or are you planning to keep his character in perpetual stasis, as it were, the archetypal 'drifter'?

AuthorLeeChild31 karma

No plan at all - I keep it spontaneous. But I agree I'm bucking the Eng Lit demand for growth and change. Sometimes I think people prefer to know what they're getting.

ALonelyRubberBand11 karma

What is your favorite part about writing?

AuthorLeeChild29 karma

The act of pure creation ... being alone in the zone, and having a great scene come to life.

alohapigs11 karma

Hi Mr. Child! I read (on the back of one of your books, I think) that you came up with Jack Reacher's name while browsing the grocery store. It is such a powerful name, but have you ever had second thoughts about Jack Reacher's name?

Side note: For some reason I always picture Jeff Bridges as Jack when I read your novels. I have no idea why.

AuthorLeeChild14 karma

I still ike Reacher's name.

aeck9 karma

Of the lean meats fish and chicken - which do you eat the most of?

AuthorLeeChild16 karma

Chicken, for sure.

lehestiklennar9 karma


I am going to ask you something different. If you had to express it in only a few sentences, what would you say is your "key to success"?

Thank you :)

AuthorLeeChild25 karma

As a writer? My team - agent, editor, assistant, and publicist. They're so good sometimes I feel they could make anyone a success.

goatcoat3 karma

Would you rather fight one horse sized duck, or 1000 duck sized horses?

AuthorLeeChild41 karma

1000 duck-size horses - horses are timid and probably wouldn't fight. Remember, a dog will leave safety for food, but a horse will leave food for safety.

mcoyne123 karma

I love your books; do you have a particular favorite among them?

AuthorLeeChild8 karma

The next one ... maybe it will be the perfect book!