Grisham returns to That Bookstore

Saturday, February 23, 2002
Author John Grisham sits comfortably in a big rocking chair as he talks with visitors at That Bookstore In Blytheville, last Monday.

After exploring a new genre in "A Painted House" and Skipping Christmas," best-selling author John Grisham returns to legal

thrillers with "The Summons."

Grisham autographed copies of his fifteenth book, on Monday, February 11, at one of his official world tour book stops--That Book Store in Blytheville.

Since first publishing "A Time to Kill" in 1988, Grisham has written one novel a year, with each one becoming a best seller.

"Many of you may know that my first novel, "A Time To Kill," has long held a special place on my bookshelf," Grisham said, "With "The Summons," I have not only returned to writing thrillers, I have returned to Ford County, Mississippi for the first time since "A Time To Kill." I enjoyed revisiting a place rich in colorful characters and dark family secrets."

The Summons is about Ray Atlee, a professor of law at the University of Virginia. He's forty-three, newly single, and still enduring the aftershocks of a surprise divorce. He has a younger brother, Forrest, who redefines the notion of a family's black sheep.

And he has a father, a very sick old man who lives alone in

the ancestral home in Clanton, Mississippi. He is known to all as Judge Atlee, a beloved and powerful official who has towered over

local law and politics for forty years. No longer on the bench, the Judge has withdrawn to the Atlee mansion and become a recluse.

With the end in sight, Judge Atlee issues a summons for both sons to return home to Clanton, to discuss the details of his estate.

It is typed by the Judge himself, on his handsome old stationery, and gives the date and time for Ray and Forrest to appear in his study.

Ray reluctantly heads south, to his hometown, to the place where he grew up, which he prefers now to avoid. But the family meeting does not take place. The Judge dies too soon, and in doing so leaves behind a shocking secret known only to Ray. And perhaps someone else.

"I found it interesting, trying to piece together the plot of this book," Grisham said. "The plot and pacing is everything.

"I hope my readers will have a hard time putting the book down,"

Grisham said. "I hope they skip work, hide out, not tell people where they are, and find it impossible to not turn to the next page to see what happened."

When asked if he ever has writer's block, Grisham answered and emphatic "No. It is just the opposite as words and ideas come so fast

I have a problem getting them down on paper.

"I wake up about 6 a.m. and spend two hours writing in my office, and old summer kitchen my wife renovated for me, behind our home in Charlottesville, VA," Grisham said. "About 8 a.m. I go in the house and eat breakfast with my wife and then return to the office to write until noon. I don't have any telephone calls, visits or disruptions

out there."

When he's not writing, Grisham devotes time to charitable causes, including taking mission trips with his church group. He also keeps up with his greatest passion: baseball. The man who dreamed of being a professional baseball player now serves as the local Little League commissioner. The six ball fields he built on his property, in VA,

have played host to over 350 kids on 26 Little League teams.

Grisham spoke briefly about his upcoming acting debut, where he plays

a Little League baseball commissioner in an original screenplay for the movie "Mickey" about a young boy from Las Vegas. A large part

of the movie was filmed at his home in VA.Grisham answered questions

about "The Painted House," and "Skipping Christmas."

"We are still working on the movie of "The Painted House," and hopefully it will be finished soon," Grisham said. "That book was the most fun to write as it contains many childhood memories. It runs

at a much slower pace and is more literary. It is the only one of

my books that lends itself to a sequel.

"The Christmas book just dropped out of nowhere," Grisham said. "It

was the day after Christmas and I found myself just sick of Christmas and everything that accompanies the season. I began by

making a list of everything it would be involved in skipping Christmas. I wrote the book in 60 days. At times I was laughing so hard, I found it hard to write."

Grisham says he calls "Home" to many places that he has lived, each

one important in one way or the other. Grisham his wife Renee and

their two children Ty and Shea split their time between their

Victorian home on a farm in Mississippi and a plantation near Charlottesville, Vir.

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