When I meet or listen to authors I'm always interested to find out about the mechanics of how they write - not just the inspiration, but the process, motivation and discipline.
The biography of the hugely successful thriller writer, Lee Child, published this month, is therefore an astonishing and fascinating read, detailing as it does his meticulous and almost scientific approach.
He started writing when he lost his fulfilling and lucrative job in television in his early 40s. Recognising novels as 'the purest form of entertainment' he resolved to become not just a writer, but a bestselling writer.
Approaching that first book, he listed his calculations on the ideal number of words per line, lines per page, pages per chapter and chapters in the book to achieve the best storytelling momentum to gather and appeal to the most readers. Sentences would be sparse and clipped and the narrative would read as if there was a voice in your head telling you the story.
He had his audience in mind throughout, and worked hard to appeal to a mosaic of different types of readers.
"If you write for a large audience, it's perceived as being easier than writing for a small audience," he says. But avid readers are forgiving and will try anything. People who hardly read at all might never pick up a book again if they have a bad experience. He says the greatest compliment he can receive in a booksigning is when someone tells him they loved his book, because they finished it.
The biography is called 'The Reacher Guy', after Jack Reacher, the hero of Child's 25 books (each of which he began to write on the anniversary of losing his tv job). It has been released as Lee Child has declared his retirement from writing any further novels, having sold 100 million copies worldwide, achieving a personal wealth believed to be $50m. You can read more about the book below.
For a quick fix of author insight, though, why not take a look at what some of our favourite writers are reading at the moment. Each week, the Browsers newsletter is including a message from a well known writer with their recommended new release. If you aren't yet receiving the newsletter, you can sign up here.
And we'll be holding our own recommendations evening in a few weeks - in good time for some Christmas purchases perhaps!