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John Ray Grisham, Jr. (born February 8, 1955) is an American author, best known for his popular legal thrillers.
John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981 and practiced criminal law for about a decade. He also served in the House of Representatives in Mississippi from January 1984 to September 1990. Beginning writing in 1984, he had his first novel A Time To Kill published in June 1989. As of 2008, his books had sold over 250 million copies worldwide. A Galaxy British Book Awards winner, Grisham is one of only three authors to sell two million copies on a first printing, the others being Tom Clancy and J. K. Rowling.
Grisham's first best seller was The Firm. Released in 1991, it sold more than seven million copies. The book was adapted as a feature film. In addition, seven more of his novels: The Chamber, The Client, A Painted House, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Runaway Jury, and A Time to Kill, were adapted as movies. His books have been translated into 29 languages and published worldwide. His other best-selling books include The Testament, The Summons and The Broker.
John Grisham, the second oldest of five siblings, was born in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to Wanda Skidmore Grisham and John Grisham. His father worked as a construction worker and a cotton farmer, while his mother was a homemaker. The family relocated frequently, until they decided to settle in the town of Southaven in DeSoto County, Mississippi; Grisham was four then. As a child, Grisham wanted to be a baseball player. Despite the fact that Grisham's parents lacked formal education, his mother encouraged her son to read and prepare for college.
He went to the Northwest Junior College in Senatobia, Mississippi and later attended Delta State University in Cleveland. Grisham drifted so much during his time at the college that he changed colleges three times before completing a degree. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 1977, receiving a BS degree in accounting. He later enrolled in the Ole Miss Law School to become a tax lawyer, but his interest shifted to general civil litigation. He graduated in 1983 with a specialty in criminal law.
Grisham married Renee Jones on 8 May 1981, and the couple have two children together: Shea and Ty. The "family splits their time between their Victorian home on a farm" outside Oxford, Mississippi, "and a home near Charlottesville, Virginia." In 2008, he and his wife bought a condominium at McCorkle Place in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He and his wife also teach in Sunday school in First Baptist Church of Oxford.
Grisham started working for a nursery as a teenager, watering bushes for $1.00 an hour. He was soon promoted to a fence crew for $1.50 an hour. He wrote about the job: "there was no future in it." At 16, Grisham took a job with a plumbing contractor; he "never drew inspiration from that miserable work."
Through a contact of his father, he managed to find work on a highway asphalt crew in Mississippi. He was seventeen then. It was during this time that an unfortunate incident got him "serious" about college. A fight had broken out among the crew on a Friday, with gunfire from which Grisham ran to the restroom to escape. He didn't come out until after the police had "hauled away rednecks". He hitchhiked home and started thinking about college
His next work was in retail, as a salesclerk in a department store men's underwear section, which he described as "humiliating". After deciding to quit, he stayed when offered a raise. He was given another raise after asking to be transferred to toys and then to appliances. A confrontation with a company spy posing as a customer convinced him to leave the store.
By this time, Grisham was halfway through college. Planning to become a tax lawyer, he was soon overcome by "the complexity and lunacy" of it. He decided to return to his hometown as a trial lawyer.
Grisham practiced law for about a decade and also won election as a Democrat in the Mississippi state legislature from 1983 to 1990 at an annual salary of $8,000.By his second term at the Mississippi state legislature, he was not only the vice-chairman of the Apportionment and Elections Committee but also a member of several other committees.
Grisham's writing career blossomed with the success of his second book, The Firm, and he gave up practicing law, except for returning briefly in 1996 to fight for the family of a railroad worker who was killed on the job. His official site states that "He was honoring a commitment made before he had retired from the law to become a full-time writer. Grisham successfully argued his clients' case, earning them a jury award of $683,500 - the biggest verdict of his career."
This house in Lepanto, Arkansas was the house used in the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie A Painted House Each year after being elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives, Grisham would spend from January to March in the state capitol dreaming of a big case.
Grisham said the big case came in 1984, but it was not his case. As he was hanging around the court, he overheard a 12-year-old girl telling the jury what had happened to her. Her story intrigued Grisham and he began watching the trial. He saw how the members of the jury cried as she told them about having been raped and beaten. It was then, Grisham later wrote in The New York Times, that a story was born. Musing over "what would have happened if the girl's father had murdered her assailants", Grisham took three years to complete his first book, A Time to Kill.
Finding a publisher was not easy. The book was rejected by 28 publishers before Wynwood Press, an unknown publisher, agreed to give it a modest 5,000-copy printing. It was published in June 1989.The day after Grisham completed A Time to Kill, he began work on his second novel, the story of an ambitious young attorney "lured to an apparently perfect law firm that was not what it appeared."  The Firm remained on the The New York Times' bestseller list for 47 weeks, and became the bestselling novel of 1991.
Beginning with A Painted House in 2001, the author broadened his focus from law to the more general rural South, but continued to write legal thrillers. Most of the titles to Grisham's legal thrillers begin with the word "The."Information source: wikipedia