Lee Child is the best-selling author of the Jack Reacher series. The books follow an ex-military cop as he hitchhikes around America, accidentally stumbling across small-town criminal outfits or grander conspiracies. Sometimes it’s as simple as saving an old man from a pickpocket attempt, leading to something more extravagant. Cannabis connoisseurs may be interested in how Lee Child uses cannabis for the creative process.
The source material is Andy Martin’s 2015 book Reacher Said Nothing: Lee Child and the Making of Make Me. Reacher Said Nothing is a rare piece of work. Never has an author allowed another writer to sit in and watch him type out a book. That alone is worth the read, especially if you’re the creative type or interested in how the creative stuff gets made.
How Lee Child uses Cannabis for the Creative Process
“He took out his pipe,” writes Martin, “filled it with unadulterated marijuana from a pouch, and puffed thoughtfully. “This is just a maintenance dose,” he said. “A top-up.”
Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher novel is almost finished, but he hasn’t used an outline. Doesn’t know how the story will progress when he starts writing. He doesn’t even know how it will end. This is partly why Lee Child uses cannabis for the creative process.
Since the Jack Reacher series are mystery thrillers, Lee wants the reveal to be a surprise as much as anybody else. He wants to work the clues with Reacher. But that often means he works himself into a corner.
As Martin shows in his book, Lee Child works scene-by-scene. He never continues with the story until everything is perfect. Until what he’s written for the day is rewritten and ready for publishing. The upside of this style is that it’s finished when he writes the last scene. There are no second or third drafts. The downside is that you’re genuinely stuck when you get stuck somewhere.
“I’m spending hours on just a few lines here,” Lee complains to Martin. Hence, “the maintenance dose.” As Martin writes, “[Lee] had this theory about how it [cannabis] helped him “make connections.” He used to smoke one in the evening, now he’ll sometimes have one in the day too.”
While in Madrid, stressing about the novel’s progress, Lee Child tells Martin, “I’m going to have to smoke a helluva lot of weed when I get back to New York. That’ll help.”
How Jack Reacher Gets Made
When Lee Child isn’t using cannabis for the creative process, when he isn’t writing at his computer, he’s lying on his couch thinking things through. Lee doesn’t smoke cannabis while writing. He says elsewhere that it slows him down. But it’s clear, reading between the lines, that he’s smoking at night, making those connections.
And as a fellow writer (although by far less successful), I can relate. You write a lot during the day. Then later in the evening, you smoke a little and revisit what you wrote. And it’s like a fresh set of eyes. You notice all the little details. The voice. Or lack of. From reading Martin’s book, one can safely assume Lee Child uses cannabis for the creative process by editing at night.
Andy Martin’s book about writing a novel fills a niche. The subject itself, the Jack Reacher books of Lee Child, are mainstream paperbacks. Two Jack Reacher books are films (starring Tom Cruise, who is too short to be the real Jack Reacher). And the first book has been recently adapted into an Amazon series starring Alan Ritchson, with season 2 already confirmed.
Jack Reacher: Friend of Cannabis
The Jacker Reacher series is ideal for readers that like to partake in cannabis. They’re fast-paced mystery thrillers that are easy to read, even when you’ve had a joint or two. The audiobooks are great and also easy to follow when stoned. (I recommend Dick Hill for the books written in third-person and Jeff Harding for those written in first-person and to avoid Scott Brick’s narration altogether).
Lee Child is not only a suburb writer, creator of the coolest person in crime fiction – Jack Reacher – he’s also a cannabis ally. He says cannabis stopped him from becoming an alcoholic. Martin quotes him saying, “I don’t think weed should be made legal… It should be compulsory!”
If you haven’t read a Jack Reacher novel, you’re missing out on hours of entertainment from a fellow cannabis connoisseur.