If you drive about 50 miles south from Memphis on Interstate 55 along the edge of the fertile Mississippi delta, you could turn east on Highway 6 through the hill country of north Mississippi made famous in the novels of William Faulkner, a Nobel laureate whose home has become an attraction for hundreds of literary scholars each year.
You will be driving toward Oxford, the small town where leading figures of the New York publishing world descended to bury Faulkner in the summer of 1962.
Oxford has nurtured some of America's great writers. One of the most commercially successful of these is John Grisham. Grisham was a virtually unknown small-town lawyer until hitting the bestseller lists with five successive novels. Newsweek called Grisham a "commercial supernova." Sales of his novels A Time to Kill, The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client, and The Chamber now exceed 40 million.
From Oxford, Grisham has written a novel a year until he moved with his family to Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. The mass media have written a great deal about Grisham the writer, but it is not common knowledge that Grisham committed his life to Christ when he was eight years old. He remains dedicated to living according to biblical principles as he copes with the fame and wealth thrust on him since 1990.
Some analyses of your novels say that they're about greed. Are they?
They're about lawyers. I don't know if the two go hand in hand. I was a lawyer for ten years, so I write about what I know. I take normal people, almost all of whom happen to be attorneys, and they get in really stressful situations and try to get out of them. It's not a magic formula.
How did you learn to write?