Stephen King and Lee Child at Harvard

Stephen King and Lee Child at HarvardTwo novelists, both prolific, talk about the craft and the stenography of their lives. 

By Olivia Munk '16

Despite the humidity and heat, fans of Lee Child, author of the acclaimed Jack Reacher series and Stephen King, acclaimed horror novelist, stood in a snaking line outside Memorial Hall on September 9 to see the two novelists in conversation with each other in Sanders Theatre. Hosted by the Harvard Book Store and Harvard English Department, the event marked the release of Child’s newest installment in the Jack Reacher series, Make Me. Ticket holders to the event were given a copy of the novel, and had the chance to meet Child for a book signing after the conversation.

Stephen King and Lee Child at HarvardKing, who received the United States’ National Medal of Arts from the White House on September 10 for his prolific contribution to American fiction, expressed admiration for the Jack Reach series to Child. Child, a similarly prolific writer, has written 19 other Jack Reacher books prior to the publication of Make Me. The two writers discussed Child’s inspiration for the character of Reacher, his interest in American culture despite his English background, and how he tries to make the references in his texts accessible to people from all around the world.

After the conversation, audience members asked Child about his thoughts on the upcoming Reacher movie (starring Tom Cruise as the title character), how he approaches the structure of his narratives, and when and why he decides to write in the first or third person. Both King and Child agreed that different points of view and narrative trajectories are appropriate for different kinds of stories. As Child succinctly put it, “We’re stenographers. The story is being told to us, and we write it down.”