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When Jack Reacher Met Nick Heller, by Lee Child

05/23/2014

Jack Reacher and Nick Heller join forces to right some wrongs and watch some baseball in "Good and Valuable Consideration," a story in the International Thriller Writers anthology FACEOFF, coming June 3 from Simon & Schuster. Here, Lee talks about the unfamiliar process of writing with a partner.

Lee Child: Joe Finder and I are good friends, in the sense that we talk about more than just the business. Baseball, obviously (even though Joe is hopelessly misguided there) … and on top of everything else we have an ongoing quest for America’s best burger. Not a gourmet burger – let’s make that clear from the start – but just the best plain, honest, normal burger. I remember some years ago we were trying a contender in a Spanish restaurant (yeah, go figure) on 22nd Street in New York, and talk turned to upcoming projects, as it does, and Joe started riffing and thinking out loud about maybe starting a series character.

And what I heard from him was a lengthy and penetrating analysis that covered every cost and benefit, every desirable and undesirable characteristic, every strength and weakness … I wish I’d had a voice recorder running. I could have sold the transcript to Writers Digest. It would have become the Rosetta Stone for all such decisions.
And obviously he went ahead with it, and the first Nick Heller book came out, written with Joe’s trademark blend of freewheeling imagination mixed with iron self-discipline. I liked it a lot. So that when ITW proposed pairing up two series characters I thought of Heller immediately. As it happened I saw Joe minutes after I’d heard about the proposition (and evidently the same number of minutes after he had) and I said, “So are we doing this?” He said, “I guess.” And that was it. No lengthy preamble, no rules … which was just as well, because I’m not a planner. But Joe is, so I was interested to see what would happen.

We did it by e-mail. I sent the first chunk, and naturally I got back an inquiry: “What do you see happening next?” No idea, Joe, until you’ve written it. But he coped just fine. Obviously the biggest problem was who would win the Yankees-Sox game that kicks the whole thing off. I decided to do the decent thing and throw the guy a bone. That’s what fiction is for, right? Getting what you don’t get in real life?

Read more about FACEOFF here, and order your copy today!