Your backstage pass to the world’s most prolific authors

JD Barker
Christine Daigle
Kevin Tumlinson
Jena Brown

What does it take to succeed as a writer? Join hosts J.D. Barker, Christine Daigle, Kevin Tumlinson and Jena Brown as they pull back the curtain and gain rare insight from the household names found on bookshelves worldwide.

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Writing Spontaneously with Lee Child

Bestseller Lee Child preaches the idea of writing spontaneously. By rejecting traditional outlining and instead drawing on decades of reading experience to write in the moment, he creates stories that feel free-flowing and realistic. Lee is an accomplished thriller writer known for his bestselling Jack Reacher series, following a retired serviceman as he accepts strange jobs across the country. His latest publication, How to Write a Mystery, which he edited with Laurie R. King for the Mystery Writers of America, is available today.


Lee Child is one of the world’s leading thriller writers. He was born in Coventry, raised in Birmingham, and now lives in New York. It is said one of his novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. His books consistently achieve the number-one slot on bestseller lists around the world and have sold over one hundred million copies. Two blockbusting Jack Reacher movies have been made so far. He is the recipient of many awards, most recently Author of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. He was appointed CBE in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Whether you’re traditionally published or indie, writing a good book is only the first step in becoming a successful author. The days of just turning a manuscript into your editor and walking away are gone. If you want to succeed in today’s publishing world, you need to understand every aspect of the business – editing, formatting, marketing, contracts. It all starts with a good book, then the real work begins.

Join international bestselling author J.D. Barker and indie powerhouses, J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon, as they gain unique insight and valuable advice from the most prolific and accomplished authors in the business.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • The origins of How to Write a Mystery
  • The importance of reading before you write
  • How to trust your own brain
  • Why it’s natural to steal ideas
  • How to incorporate real, organic feelings into your writing


J. D. Barker –

J. Thorn –

Zach Bohannon –

Lee Child –

Mystery Writers of America – 

How to Write a Mystery

Story Rubric –  

Nonfic Rubric –  

The Career Author Summit 2021 – 

Proudly sponsored by Kobo Writing Life –

Music by Nicorus – 

Voice Over by Rick Ganley – and recorded at Mill Pond Studio –

Contact – 

*Full disclosure: Some of the links are affiliate links.


  1. Christopher Wills

    3 years ago  

    Great interview; there was a lot of useful content today, almost everything Lee said was valuable and insightful.
    I like his spontaneity writing – totally agree with him. I can never stick to an outline. And I like the way he explained how decades of reading enables him to be spontaneous. I feel some Indies would benefit from reading much more, including out of genre, a good story is a good story.
    I must get a copy of the MWA Handbook edited by Lee. I have a well thumbed earlier version, edited by Lawrence Treat, published in 1982. There are some fascinating chapters, including ‘What do you mean “Gothic”?’ written by Phyllis A Whitney, which I had long forgotten I will read it today.
    Looks like you and Zach are going to have to add a new method to your scribblings on collaboration – the Lee Child method – where you send the story to your collaborator and have no idea what you are going to get back.
    Interesting that his vision of the future linked audio books to the oral tradition, first time I’ve heard that link. It conjures up images of Homer dancing on his grave saying “I told you I wasn’t past it, I told you that writing thing wouldn’t last…”
    I could listen to Lee for hours.

    1. J. Thorn

      3 years ago  

      Same here! Lee was so generous with his time and advice.

  2. Stephanie Bond

    3 years ago  

    Wow, nice interview, J–what a get! Lee Child is so wise and gracious, he’s a lovely person and a superb writer… can’t believe he’s a Pantser! I appreciate, though, that he conceded successful Pantsers have absorbed the rhythm of storytelling through reading and probably see farther down a plot throughline than most writers. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview and I was delighted to hear his take on the future of audio storytelling.

    And thanks for the shout-out for the COMA GIRL fiction podcast! I see podcast (enriched audio?) rights as a natural progression for exercising IP.

    Thanks, guys! You always inform AND entertain.

    1. J. Thorn

      3 years ago  

      Thanks, Steph! Keep us posted on COMA GIRL 😉

  3. Patrick O'Donnell

    3 years ago  

    Awesome show! There was a lot of great information in this show.

    1. J. Thorn

      3 years ago  


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