Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series first began back in 1997 and has since proven to be an enormous hit with fans of the crime genre. The books follow Jack Reacher, a former major in the United States Army Military Police Corps, who now lives as a drifter who travels across America working as a private investigator. The books have sold over 60 million copies to date and the 23rd instalment, Past Tense, is set to be released this November.
Hollywood is always looking to adapt major books for the big screen and, in 2012, a Jack Reacher film was released starring Tom Cruise as the protagonist. Though the film received mostly positive reviews, many fans of the books felt that Cruise was not suited to the role of Reacher due to his short stature. The character of Jack Reacher stands at 6ft 5in, whereas Cruise is 5ft 7in. Those hoping to see another adaptation of Child’s books will be pleased to learn he’s currently working on a TV adaptation.
“I’ve got tens of thousands of letters saying they didn’t like Cruise because he’s too small, basically,” said Child, via The Guardian. “Part of Reacher’s appeal is that he’s very intimidating. Even without doing anything, if he walks into a room, people are a little bit uneasy. It was felt that, for all his virtues, Cruise didn’t represent that. So the readers were cross from the beginning.”
Child aims to have the deal signed by November and, if it follows through, the production should dedicate 10-12 hours to each book. Speaking of the cast, Child said: “That’s the great thing about television. It’s much less star-driven than feature films. So it doesn’t need to be a so-called A-list guy.”
It has also been announced that Child is donating his fan letters, notes and manuscripts to the British Archive for Contemporary Writing at the University of East Anglia (UEA), which also holds documents from writers such as Doris Lessing, Malcolm Bradbury and JD Salinger.
“It seems to me, from an author’s point of view, tremendously arrogant to imagine that anybody’s going to find it interesting,” said Child. “It wasn’t something I thought I would ever do. But East Anglia does have a reputation as a great university for writers and they … were convinced that it would be useful.”
Over 40 boxes full of Child’s documents have been donated and it will apparently take over a year to sort through it all. Archivist at UEA, Justine Mann, said: “For the first time, creative writers, researchers and scholars of literature will have access to material that allows them to trace Child’s writing process and, through textual analysis of initial and subsequent drafts, identify some of the secrets behind his incredible success.”
Child explained that he’s chosen not to hold any documents back, saying: “With a serious institution like UEA, which does teach the nitty-gritty of writing, you can’t present a curated archive because it would necessarily give the wrong impression.” The collection even includes an old rejection slip from a literary agent who’s no doubt kicking his or her self.
At age 63, Child is one of the world’s most successful writers, but he didn’t begin his career until he was made redundant from his 18-year career in television at Grenada. “The real drama in my story is having been fired from Granada. That’s the real rags-to-riches part of it. I managed to do something afterwards … I’m the lucky one,” he said. Child’s books have become worldwide best sellers and have since been translated into 49 different languages.