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Author focus: David Baldacci answers our questions

28 February 2013 / 0 Comments

Last week we caught up with best selling crime author, David Baldacci, asking him about his reading habits, his love of libraries and his charitable work in America.

You do a lot of charitable work and established the Wish You Well Foundation. Will you tell us a little bit about the programme and your involvement?
My wife and I created the Wish You Well Foundation to fund family literacy programmes across the United States. I am chairman of the board; we meet four times a year and review thousands of applications for grants. We fund as many as we can. We also run a program called Feeding Body and Mind. On my book tours I collect books from fans. We then ship those books to local area food banks around the country on the theory that people seeking food assistance often have low reading skills. Putting books in their homes and literacy as a focal point in their lives can lift them out of poverty and help make them self-sustaining. To date we've collected and shipped out over a million books.

Over 500 libraries in the UK are taking part in a campaign to promote your books and push you up the most borrowed charts. What do libraries mean to you? Why are they important?
I was a library rat. I grew up going to the library every week and checking out as many books as I could. I traveled the world and the eons through books. Reading is what made me want to be a writer.

Make no mistake: libraries are the bastion of freedom and democracy. The first thing dictators do when they take over a country is shut all the libraries and burn books. Why? Because libraries represent the ultimate freedoms: speech and expression. They are the epicenter of democracy. They represent ideas and different opinions. No wonder dictators hate them. We should fund libraries to the fullest. When people read and become better educated and more enlightened every societal ill we have, from crime to poverty, decreases.

The Reading Agency is a charity with a mission to inspire people to read more, we're passionate about giving everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become enthusiastic readers. How important is reading in your own life and what book would you recommend to a reluctant adult reader?
I read every day. It's a passion of mine and is part of my life. I look forward to the moment when I can sit and fall back into an imaginary world someone has created for me. I'd recommend Murder on the Orient Express. Reluctant readers need books that are gripping from the get-go so they won't feel the impulse to put them down. Agatha Christie was a true storyteller. And her books are fun!

Your top five favourite books of all time
To Kill A Mockingbird, Hound of the Baskervilles, The Cider House Rules, A Tale of Two Cities and Sophie's Choice.

The most important book you've never read
Atlas Shrugged.

The book that changed your life
In Cold Blood. I read it while I was a security guard at night paying my way through college. I was supposed to make rounds but I stayed in the guard shack all night reading Capote's "nonfiction novel." It scared me to death but also provided inspiration.

Your most memorable author moment
When a fan asked me to inscribe in her boyfriend's book the fact that she was accepting his marriage proposal.

Which book do you wish you'd written
A tie between the Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes series. Hey, I like to aim high.

The best fan mail you ever got
I've received fan mail from presidents and other VIPs, but the one that sticks out is from the woman who wrote and said her terminally ill father asked for my novel Wish You Well. He lay in bed reading it for two days. When he finished, he laid it down on his chest and passed away, peacefully. Books can be your best friends and your greatest comfort at times.

What's next for you?
We're finishing up the film of Wish You Well. The King and Maxwell television series will be premiering on TNT in June. I'm getting ready for the release of The Hit in April, and working on the next book for the fall. And I'm coming to London in April for the London Book Fair. See you there!

The Hit by David Baldacci is published in April.

Libraries take-up the David Baldacci reader challenge

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Readers were inspired to try a new author and the campaign highlighted crime writing in general to many who hadn't considered it before. Librarian

At the end of 2012 we launched the David Baldacci reader challenge in 500 libraries across the UK with Pan MacMillan. The campaign aimed to introduce readers to David's books and push him up UK libraries' Most Borrowed list.

We also ran a competition for the best library display during the challenge.To view all the brilliant displays, please check out our photoset on Flickr.

Has your reading group read any David Baldacci books? Let us know what you think.

Find a crime reading group to join.

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