Top dollar: Library pays $75,000 for Grisham

Library administrators "gulped'' at the fee, but they ultimately decided that author John Grisham was worth the $75,000 he's charging to speak at the final night of the Novello Festival of Reading in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Rita Rouse, spokeswoman for the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg, said the library concluded that Grisham would draw a big crowd and strengthen the festival.

"He's been one of our most requested authors,'' she said. "We have tried to get him for not quite as long as Novello's been around, but close to it. He's always declined until this year.''

The library is paying the fee charged by Grisham's agency, Keppler Associates of Keppler, Virginia.

Grisham rarely makes public appearances these days. His Novello event at the 2,100-seat Belk Theater quickly sold out. Rouse said she hasn't gotten a report yet on gross receipts (tickets range from $15 to $35), but they won't cover his fee.

Still, Rouse said, an author as popular as Grisham attracts corporate sponsors and raises the profile of Novello, which in recent years has drawn about 40,000 people to writer appearances, writing workshops, and other events scattered over roughly a month.

"This is the kind of thing corporate sponsors and the community want to be a part of,'' she said of the Grisham event.

Grisham will attend an event Monday afternoon for Novello sponsors and major donors to the library. His event at Belk Theater begins at 7:30pm, and he will leave Charlotte immediately afterward.

Unlike nearly every Novello speaker, he will not autograph books for fans. The size of the crowd for his event would have made that difficult and tiring for Grisham, Rouse said.

Grisham, 48, began writing fiction in whatever spare time he could find as a young lawyer-legislator in Mississippi.

His first novel, A Time to Kill, was published in 1989 and sold modestly. But his second, The Firm, was the best-selling novel of 1991 and became a popular movie.

Grisham, who now lives in Covesville, has written several more best-selling legal thrillers that have been made into movies, including The Pelican Brief and The Runaway Jury.

His latest novel, Bleachers, is about a reunion of former high school football players prompted by their coach's imminent death.
John Grisham signs 'em free locally