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Newsmaker: John Grisham

John Grisham's latest novel-turned-film, "Runaway Jury," starring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and John Cusack, opens nationwide today. Early years: Grisham was born Feb. 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Ark. His father, a cotton farmer and construction wo...

John Grisham's latest novel-turned-film, "Runaway Jury," starring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman and John Cusack, opens nationwide today.

Early years: Grisham was born Feb. 8, 1955, in Jonesboro, Ark. His father, a cotton farmer and construction worker, moved the family around to find work until they finally settled in Southaven, Miss., in 1967. Although his parents had no formal education, they insisted John go to college. After graduating from the University of Mississippi law school, he established a small private legal practice in Southaven.

Career: Grisham was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1983 and served two terms. Inspired by a legal case he witnessed, he wrote the thriller "A Time to Kill" in 1987. The manuscript was rejected 28 times before being published by a small company. Lacking proper marketing, it sold less then 200,000 copies initially. (It was later re-released to sell over 7 million copies.) Grisham, unfazed by the novel's poor performance, closed his private practice and moved his family to Oxford, Miss., in order to concentrate on writing. In 1992, he published "The Firm," which sold over 12 million copies and stayed on the New York Times Bestseller list for 47 weeks. His next novel, "The Pelican Brief," sold 6 million copies in 1992. Many of his books have been adapted for the big screen, including "The Firm," (1993), "The Pelican Brief" (1993), "The Client" (1994) and "The Rainmaker" (1997).

Family: Grisham, his wife, Renee, and their children, Ty and Shea, split their time between their Mississippi home and a plantation near Charlottesville, Va.

In his words: "I never dreamed of being a writer when I was a kid, even a student, even in college. ... I wouldn't use the word 'accident,' but it certainly wasn't planned."

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Web link: www.randomhouse.com

Compiled by Heather Leinen

Sources: Achievement.org, Usedbooksandcds.com, Vabook.org

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