The Firm, Grisham's 1991 story of another young lawyer in a jam, was on the New York Times bestseller lists for 44 weeks, sold more than 7m copies and was made into a feature film starring Tom Cruise. "My first publishing experience was entirely normal and my second entirely abnormal," he says. "I responded much better to the second experience than I did to the first."
And, for Grisham at least, the "abnormality" of The Firm's commercial success soon became the norm. His subsequent series of legal thrillers has gone on to sell close to 300m copies and been translated into 40 languages. Nine of his novels have been turned into films starring A-list actors such as Julia Roberts, Gene Hackman, Sandra Bullock, Susan Sarandon and Dustin Hoffman. They have been directed by Sydney Pollack, Francis Ford Coppola, Joel Schumacher and Alan J Pakula. Grisham regularly features on literary rich lists with an estimated fortune of $600m and an annual income in the tens of millions. For most of the 1990s Grisham Day, when his new book went on sale, was a fixed point of the publishing year – to be avoided by other publishers and celebrated by bookshops.
Finley & Figg, who find themselves teamed with a young, burned-out corporate lawyer, David Zinc, in an unequal battle against big pharma.
Grisham first developed the idea as a sitcom script. "The humour was there from the start. When you work at street level you never know who's going to walk through your door. Life is full of fun stuff, sad stuff and crazy stuff. I survived as a street lawyer for 10 years and bumped into guys like these. I got to know them quite well."
Read the full piece at The Guardian.