"Reacher Creatures" — fans of Lee Child's fictional tough-guy hero, Jack Reacher — love it when the 6-foot-5 character hauls off and hits something.
This fall, Child and Reacher are giving them a lot to love.
A Wanted Man, the 17th book in the Reacher series, just hit shelves nationwide. Jack Reacher, a movie based on Child's 2005 novel, One Shot, hits the big screen in December with Tom Cruise in the title role. And now the author himself is hitting Cleveland this month to attend Bouchercon, the national convention for fans and writers of crime and mystery fiction, at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel, Oct. 4-7.
"I'm going to be doing a little book-signing and talking to fans, but principally I'm going as a fan," says Child, a U.K. native who now resides in New York.
Child has attended nearly every Bouchercon (which takes place in a different city each year) since introducing Reacher in his first novel, Killing Floor, in 1997. He says meeting fans is both flattering and inspiring.
"It's a great thing for me," he explains. "When you sit and write a book, you hope somebody's going to read it, like it and respond to it. To find out that they do is total validation."
There's plenty to like in A Wanted Man, a complex, suspenseful page-turner that picks up where the previous novel, Worth Dying For, left off. Child says he writes without an outline, letting the story develop organically as he progresses.
"The complexity is purely instinctive," he explains. "I start at the beginning and work in a linear fashion. I don't have really any idea what's going to happen."
He describes Reacher as a modern day "wandering knight" and is confident that Tom Cruise — though smaller than the character described in the books — was a good choice for the on-screen version.
"There are no actors — zero — who look anything like Jack Reacher," says Child. "What I wanted, ideally, was 100 percent Reacher [personality] with 90 percent of the size. Cruise is a technically superb actor. He understands the books and can get 100 percent of Reacher onto the screen."
Child says the movie is a faithful, slightly condensed adaptation of One Shot. His involvement was unofficial, but he was regularly consulted and even given a tiny part in the movie.
Sharp-eyed fans might also spot Child out and about when he's in town.