Every day the young James Grady, apprentice journalist and college senior on a fellowship in Washington, walked past a white stucco townhouse, the headquarters of the American Historical Association. He never saw anyone go in or out. One day the thought struck him, ‘what if that building were a CIA front and one day someone went out for lunch and came back to find all his colleagues slaughtered.’ It was the genesis of his thriller Six Days of the Condor (1974), which became the film, Three Days of the Condor, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Redford. It was the beginning of a distinguished career for Grady as a script-writer, novelist and investigative journalist. It was a thrill to hear this story and others at the launch of James’s new novel, Last Days of the Condor, which picks up Condor’s story at the end of his career, sidelined to a harmless desk job, fighting paranoia, and knocking back prescription drugs by the handful for his cholesterol and his prostate. Condor is an unusual hero, and a highly entertaining one. He’s only got smarter with age and he’s not too old to fall in love.
I began by asking James what made him decide to bring the Condor back.
The rise of the new security state, the technological revolution, 9/11, and the collapse of the Berlin Wall gave us a new world that needed a classic set of eyes through which to reveal a fun, exciting story — so who better than Condor?
What’s your writing routine?
Up about 6:30, coffee and the newspapers, T’ai chi and the swimming, but at the keyboard by 10:30. Work steady until a bit before dinner.
A favourite bookshop?
Daunts in London is great, and in the U.S., I love D.C.’s Politics an Prose. Both are about readers and books.
What single thing would make your writing life easier?
If I could nap, my productivity would soar.
What are you working on at present?
Right now I am working on a film script about a young woman in modern Texas.
Thank you, James.
Last Days of the Condor is published by No Exit Press, who have also reissued Six Days of the Condor. You can find out more here: http://bit.ly/1ODMygt.