I couldn’t help but notice in the story that Sooley’s team at one point upsets Duke. You come from a University of North Carolina family. Was that a purposeful decision? (Grisham’s wife, daughter and son-in-law are U.N.C. alumni.)
I thought as much.
We’re Tar Heels, OK? It’s an intense rivalry. You know, each team has a lot of respect for the other, great coaches and all that, but you know, we’re Tar Heel fans, and hey, they had to beat somebody, OK? It was so much fun.
Most of your books take place in environments you grew up in. What was your level of comfort in centering a story on a trauma that, as a wealthy white person, is not something you ever saw firsthand?
Well, I think I approach it differently. I hope to bring awareness to their problem, to their plight. I hope that people will, who maybe had not thought about it before, will show some interest in that, and then understand what these people are going through and maybe help in some way, maybe send a check.
I’ve had several of my books, most of them dealing with wrongful convictions, where at the end in my author’s note, I would say: “These organizations are doing God’s work. If you’ve got a spare buck, send them a check.” And the money pours in. So, I mean, I do have that level of influence with some people. So I’m always aware of trying to help people along the way. Yeah, I mean, I’m a wealthy white person, so I’m not going to apologize for that. I’ve got to write something, OK? [Laughter.]
What’s next for you?
Halfway through the next legal thriller. I’ll finish it in July, wrote a thousand words this morning. That’s my routine.
Is there another sport you’d like to write about?
I have a golf book. I started playing golf at the age of 55, which was 11 years ago, which is insanity. It’s just very difficult to learn the game, as hard as it is, when you take it up at the age of 55, and it’s been a real struggle. It’s also been quite humorous.
Are you an N.B.A. fan?
Not at all. I have not followed the N.B.A. in 50 years.