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Review: Lee Child in conversation with Toby Manhire

Dunedin Venues —

Anticipation was palpable as 400+ Jack Reacher fans waited for his creator to take the stage. Two armchairs are central to a backdrop of advertising for book 24, 'Past Tense'.

Lee Child and Toby Manhire entered stage left to spontaneous applause. At last the fans could see him face to face. What followed was 75 minutes of pertinent questions by Toby and considered, detailed answers by Lee. We were not disappointed.

Lee Child connected with the animated audience who responded with laughter and applause. He was quick to point out that New Zealand was the first country to embrace Reacher books and Kiwis remain the most enthusiastic purchasers. Toby broached the hot topics of cannabis and the actor of the two Jack Reacher movies. Fans can rest easy that a forth-coming ‘Netflix’ type series will have someone of more appropriate physical appearance. While cannabis is one of the 4 ‘C’s’ of Child’s diet (cigarettes, caffeine, champagne and cannabis), it is very much a back-ground item and doesn’t fuel the word flow.

Learning of his writing method was liberating – he starts with a paragraph, lets it settle and then another paragraph will flow from that. Usually the first part of the morning is spent reviewing the previous day’s writing, maybe a few edits, then carry on with the paragraph creation. He has no idea of the overall plot when he starts a book.

Toby invited questions from the floor and there were several good ones. When asked if he had thought of creating another character, Lee put the question back to the audience, “do you want me to write about anybody else”? Not one hand came up. “There you have it” was his reply.

This sums up Lee Child’s approach to his fans – he writes what the readers’ want and is very grateful for every dollar that enables a lifestyle that is so different from the redundancy he faced in the 1990s. Bring on # 25; we’ll buy it.

Review by Don McKinnon