The Blagger's Guide To...John Grisham

'I was No 1 – and then along came Harry Potter...'

*The paperback launch this week of his 23rd novel, The Confession, marks the start of a Grisham-filled spring.

Also being republished soon are The Associate and his short story collection, Ford County. Of course, those other novels and his 2006 non-fiction book, The Innocent Man, are still in print, with more than 225 million copies available worldwide, in 29 languages. Nine of these (including The Firm and The Pelican Brief) have been made into films. He enjoyed watching all of them," he has said "with the exception of The Chamber, which was dreadful".

*Despite his fame, Grisham lives a quiet life in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, on a 1,000-acre farm with his wife of 30 years, Renee. "Quite often, I can be in a bookshop," he said, "standing beneath a big picture of myself and paying for a book with a credit card clearly marked John Grisham, yet no one recognises me. I often say I'm a famous author in a country where no one reads."

*During his childhood in Arkansas ("Right from the start, I loved the works of Mark Twain, below. Every time I read about Tom Sawyer, I'd go out and do something low-level naughty, just like him"), he dreamt of becoming a baseball player, before cutting his losses and practising as a lawyer for 10 years and winning a seat in the Mississippi state legislature. A child rape case inspired his first novel, A Time to Kill. It was rejected by some 28 publishers before it was finally published in 1988 and sold 5,000 copies.

*Grisham was once offered the chance to buy Bournemouth Football Club. "It all started when my UK editor, Oliver Johnson, took me to a Chelsea match and, as a joke, I started cheering for the opposition, which was Bournemouth. Somehow it got reported in the papers that I was a big fan of theirs, and when the club got into financial difficulties, I was contacted and asked if I would like to take it over. It was a nice offer, but I declined."

*Aged 55, in 2010, he published his first children's book: Theodore Boone: Half the Man, Twice the Lawyer. "I'm trying to catch Harry Potter," he confessed. "Back in the Nineties I was routinely introduced as the bestselling author in the world and I was trying to act like it was no big deal, then along came Harry Potter and, suddenly, I became No 2. I really miss being No 1."

*He is friends with the writers David Baldacci, Scott Turow and Stephen King.

*He has a pilot's licence.

*His fifth cousin is Bill Clinton and he helped with Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

*His only business card reads, "John Grisham, Commissioner, Cove Creek Park". The park comprises six baseball pitches which he had built for local children at the site, 20 miles outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

*He's supported the post-Hurricane Katrina fund "Rebuild The Coast" with a $5m (£3.1m) donation, and funds a scholarship for southern writers at Mississippi University. He was a vocal critic of George W Bush, raising $125,000 (£78,500) for a local Democratic candidate and campaigning for the defeat of "political cowboys".

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