John Grisham is a bright example of a tremendous metamorphosis from a novice author into one of the most famous modern legal thrillers’ writer. Grisham once self-critically claimed: “My success was not planned, but it could only happen in America”¯. All his books became international bestsellers with over 235 million copies in print worldwide which were translated into about thirty languages.
John Grisham was born in February of 1955 in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to a construction worker and homemaker. Members of the family was related to neither law nor writing. Though, his parents lacked formal education, mother encouraged little John to read and tried her best to develop in him an insatiable thirst for knowledge the role of which John Grisham later mentioned in his interviews. Being an avid reader, Grisham emphasized his everyday ability and necessity to learn and claimed that in childhood he was greatly influenced by the works of Steinbeck. His brother, Vaughn, a leading expert on Community Development, also played his part in John’s personality formation. Being a teenager, John dreamt of becoming a professional baseball player, though his fate was decreed otherwise. Still, the lifelong passion for baseball was reflected in A Painted House (2001) and now he can afford serving as the local Little League commissioner helping the youth to develop baseball. Having abandoned the dream of becoming a sportsmen, John Grisham started to study accounting to become a tax lawyer, but studying in law school, he got interested in criminal law and litigation. After graduating from law school at Ole Miss in 1981 he privately practiced law for a decade in Southaven working with criminal defense and personal injury litigation. The years also contributed to his world outlook and provided him with invaluable experience in the sphere he would later deal with as a writer. In 1983 John Grisham was elected to the state House of Representatives and served until 1990.
As a legislator he continued his private practice and later on at the DeSoto County courthouse he overheard the testimony of a rape victim and was deeply inspired to write his first novel. It was a challenge for a novice writer as he lacked time and had to get up early to write before going to work. Painstakingly, a novel A Time to Kill was finished in 1987 but was initially rejected by twenty-eight publishers unwilling to print an unknown author. Eventually, it was published by Wynwood Press in a modest circulation in June 1988.
Grisham realized that his hobby turned into a new full-time career which took all his time and effort, he began working on a new book The Film which became a bestseller in 1991. The readers were fascinated by the novel from the very first chapter to the mid sections up to the finale (Manohar, 2000). Then there came another legal suspense thriller, The Pelican Brief, which renewed the writer’s first book success and confirmed his reputation as the master of the legal thriller.
It is remarkable that nine of his novels have been turned into films, The Film, The Pelican Brief, The Broker, The Appeal are among them.
Grisham also wrote non-legal fiction, such as A Painted House, Skipping Christmas. Bleachers, Playing for Pizza and The Innocent Man.
Grisham’s style of writing is unique, he keeps the readers hooked but the narration is not fast paced, and as it unfolds it keeps readers interested all the time (Manohar, 2000). This masterful page-turning pace makes the readers to want more and predetermines Grisham’s further success. So, John Grisham has not stopped producing bestsellers, as 2009 gave birth to his new work The Associate.