Last week John Grisham gave a telephone interview to Des Moines Register. When he needed details about Iowa for his new book “Playing for Pizza,” he did what millions of people hunting information do. He aimed a mouse and clicked.
Grisham searched online for nuggets to flesh out his 20th book, centered on a quarterback named Rick Dockery from fictional Davenport South High School who later played at the University of Iowa. The book went on sale Monday, September 24.
Decisions about whether to use fictional names or places within a story sometimes hinge on workload strategies, Grisham said.
“You try to use names and places that might prevent a lot of last-minute research,” he said. “So if you fictionalize something as you go, you might not be scrambling around at the end of the book to check a real fact about Davenport Central.
“I’ve just learned over the years – I know how frantic it gets at the end every time. You’re running around crazy at times. I’m doing research on small facts. My secretary is checking small facts. My wife is checking small facts – all trying to wrap it up.
“If you can avoid that throughout the book by just fictionalizing stuff, you can save a lot of headaches at the very end.”
Fictional character Rick Dockery, the main character in the book, played at the University of Iowa before eventually landing with the Cleveland Browns in the NFL.
Grisham originally thought Dockery would play for the Chicago Bears.
“It was going to be Chicago initially, but then the Bears went all the way to the Super Bowl this year — so I switched from Chicago to Cleveland,” he said.