When Authors Mix Fact and Fiction: A Look at John Grisham

Alison Kilian
2 min readFeb 6, 2023

John Grisham proves yet again that he’s the master of the legal thriller — but that’s not why I love to read his books.

Photo by Taryn Elliott: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-a-book-5858998/

My go-to beach read is usually a John Grisham thriller. Thankfully, he’s a prolific writer and there is no shortage of Grisham books to keep me busy on holidays for years to come. I recently finished one of his more recent works, “The Boys from Biloxi.” As usual, it delivered — sharply drawn characters, a twisting-and-turning plot, and intriguing insights into the United States legal system.

That last point is one of the biggest reasons I’m drawn to Grisham. As a former lawyer, he’s able to give an interesting (and accurate) perspective on U.S. law and criminal justice topics. Sure, a savvy author without a legal background could do their own research, presumably with the same results. But Grisham’s insider knowledge is what sets him apart from the rest — for me, at least.

Another reason I’m a fan of Grisham’s? He doesn’t just write about the legal and criminal justice systems (frequently critiquing issues in both). He remains active in these spheres. He’s a vocal supporter of initiatives like The Innocence Project, for example, an organization that helps wrongly incarcerated individuals, providing them the legal support they need to overturn their convictions and regain their freedom. In some instances, these individuals are on death row.

It’s Grisham’s advocacy that makes him stand out to me and it’s one of the reasons I remain a fan of his. As writers, it can be tempting to tune out the real world and live in the imaginary realms we create. But, in doing so, are we doing those around us — and ourselves — a disservice? I’m certainly not saying every writer out there has to find some cause to champion. But it’s interesting to see those who do choose that route. Grisham is one example of an author who seems to effectively tread the line of fact versus fiction, creating imagined worlds for his readers to enjoy without closing his eyes to real-world troubles where a “happy ending” is all too often out of reach.

Thank you for reading! This is a space where I share personal thoughts — an opportunity for self-expression that has nothing to do with my professional writing. None of the thoughts or opinions expressed in this blog should be construed as anything but my own, nor should they be affiliated with any company or person I contract with or write for.

NOW that that’s done… I’d love to hear from you about this blog post in the comments! You can also connect via my blog: https://www.ask-communications.com/blog

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Alison Kilian

I’m Alison & I tell stories! ​I’ve been writing professionally for 10+ years, crafting everything from CEO blogs to bestselling romcoms. I ❤ a good story!