Written by Andy Martin
I usually buy Lee Child on, or close to, publication day and thought his 2015 book Make Me was one of his best in several years. Do I want to read a book about him writing it? Not so much. Man sits and works in front of a computer all day — what is there to say about that? However, a friend sent me Andy Martin’s book, and it turns out I was wrong. Martin shadowed Lee from the first sentences written on Labor Day 2014 to the final sentence written on April 10, 2015. We find out that Lee doesn’t work from an outline, in fact when he writes the first sentences he has no idea about the ending. And his first draft is his only draft. Which doesn’t mean he just slaps stuff down on the page. Some of the conversations are about the direction of the story, the decisions the writer makes every day about his plot and characters. But he also obsesses about the small details of his writing. Early on we get Lee explaining to Martin a punctuation change he made overnight in a scene about burying a body. “ ‘And they would use the air for a guy like Keever’ became ‘And they would use the air, for a guy like Keever.’ The comma picked out and emphasized the importance of Keever—but it also served to draw attention to the thought process of the parties unknown—or rather known but not named—who were preparing to bury him. ‘the punctuation not only make it stronger—it reflects their being mentally slow. You hear them saying that.’” (Martin page 51.) A few pages later we get Lee Child explaining why he has changed ‘onto’ into ‘to.’ “To me it sounds ugly. I just don’t like onto.” If you also get off on stuff like that– because you’re a Lee Child fan or a would be writer or whatever–then this is the book for you, Inspiring and revelatory about the work life of one of the world’s most successful writers.
NOTE: A list of Lee Child’s books can be found in Magpie Recommends.
Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me