Richard and Judy Interview: John Grisham on Rogue Lawyer

Richard and Judy Interview: John Grisham on Rogue Lawyer

What is it about the tough, principled loner; the hired gun with a conscience, that so appeals to you?

He has firm beliefs. He is not easily pushed around. He’s eager for a fight if someone steps on his toes, or his clients’. He hates injustice and makes a career of fighting it. He also appeals to a lot of people, thus a lot of readers.

You’ve written so many novels in this genre. In the days and weeks after you have finished one, do you sometimes wonder if you have any more left in you?

As I finish one I begin wondering what’s next. Do I indeed have another story? So far the answer has been yes and I hope that continues. I watch lawyers, trials, firms, lawsuits, courts, appeals, etc., and in America the material is endless. Also, there is no shortage of injustice, and I find it infuriating when the real bad guys are supposed to be the good ones.

Is police and judicial corruption and venality as bad in some American states as you portray it here?

There is very little actual police and judicial corruption, in that few cops and judges take cash for bad behavior. What’s far more prevalent is the incompetence and the ways in which our systems fail so many people. An untrained policeman can make mistakes that send an innocent person to prison for decades, and along the way the prosecutors and the judges become complicit in a dozen different ways. The American criminal justice system is in desperate need of an overhaul.

You’ve been going a long time. Do you think they’ll have to bury you with a pen (or laptop) in your hand?

No. One day these books will not be as popular, and I hope I have the sense to realise it and quit. It’s been a great run so far, but now, at 61, I get an occasional glimpse of a slower life not far down the road.