JACK REACHER'S GOT SOME GOOD, OLD-FASHIONED LIBERAL VALUES. DO THEY REFLECT YOUR OWN? I think if you live here, especially right now, you are led to believe there's this tremendously polarized country: left versus right, constantly at loggerheads. But it's actually completely obvious to an outsider there is a massive, enormous center in America. Obviously, there are pointy-headed idealists on the left and maniacs on the right, but those are pretty thin margins.

In the middle, you've got this huge, enormous girth of an incredibly diverse population, but they all share certain fundamental characteristics. They are all normal Americans. Probably 80 percent of the population feels fundamentally the same things and, therefore, are very badly served by our current politics. I think Reacher tries to make that point. He's a normal guy. Everybody else is a normal guy. Why don't we just do the principled, obvious thing? We'd be a lot better off.

DON'T YOU HAVE CONSERVATIVE FANS? YOU WRITE THRILLERS! Reacher is essentially this tough guy, so they tend to claim him as their own. Therefore, I can have a lot of fun puncturing their assumptions by making Reacher do things they're uncomfortable with.

WHY DO YOU THINK YOU APPEAL TO SO MANY DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE? I won't be falsely modest about it, I am a good writer. I have the facility to write well. Apart from that, I'm just a completely ordinary person. What I'm doing is, I have the ability to get it down on paper what interests ordinary people. I am not this intellectual person who is fluming or writing down words. I am the audience.

I think that is absolutely essential, because I think that if people do write down words or if they aim at a certain sector of the market, they will always miss it because the authenticity will be lacking; the integrity won't be there. It's really a question, then, of luck. It's a two-stage process. Do you have the technical skill to get what's in your head on paper? The answer to that is either yes or no. Then the question is, is what is in your head of any interest to anybody? That's where you are either lucky or not lucky. You can't change that. If what is in your head is interesting to other people, then you're a success. If it isn't, then you're a failure. That's just a pure luck. Do you match the round peg in the round hole?

HOW'S THE MOVIE GOING? I went over to Pittsburgh last week. They're finishing up pre-production. They're going to start shooting I think either in the end of this week or the very beginning of next week.

I find that kind of thing fun. I like watching experts work. Whatever it is, I find it fascinating to watch people do their jobs. So I'm going to visit as much as I can.

WHAT ON EARTH TOOK THE MOVIE SO LONG TO GET MADE? IT SEEMS LIKE THESE BOOKS WERE MEANT FOR THE SCREEN. On the surface they are. I've been talking to Hollywood people for 15 years and there were two key issues that they were stumbling over. The first: even though the books are a little bit obvious for movies, they are actually quite internal in terms of Reacher's thought processes and personality. I think a lot of the attraction of the books lies inside Reacher's head. That's a difficult thing to express on screen.

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