Small Talk: David Baldacci

David Baldacci’s debut novel, the thriller Absolute Power, was made into a film starring Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman. He has since published 26 novels that have sold more than 110m copies. Born in Virginia in 1960, he worked as a lawyer before switching to full-time writing. He co-founded the Wish You Well Foundation, which works to combat illiteracy in the US. Baldacci is married with two children and lives in Virginia.

Who is your perfect reader?

Someone who’d like to be both entertained and informed at the same time.

Which books are on your bedside table?

My friend Bob Crais’s book, The Last Detective and Jon Meacham’s Jefferson biography The Art of Power.

What is the last thing you read that made you laugh out loud?

Jasper Fforde’s The Woman Who Died a Lot. There are some great one-liners.

What book changed your life?

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which I read while I was working as a security guard during college. It scared me to death.

Where do you write best?

I’ve always felt that the best place to write in is your head, so wherever you are it doesn’t matter. I’ve written on planes, trains, automobiles, with screaming kids on my lap.

Who are your literary influences?

People who I loved growing up. The thriller writer Nelson DeMille, Eric Ambler, John Irving, Eudora Welty, Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

Probably my wife – we get to see so little of each other. What with the dogs and two kids, we’re always going in different directions.

When do you feel most free?

When I’m out on the water on a boat. It’s a great place to think.

Which book do you wish you’d written?

Sophie’s Choice [by William Styron]. It’s one of those rare books that grows with you.

Which novel would you give a child to introduce them to literature?

To Kill a Mockingbird.

What does it mean to be a writer?

To never stop being a kid. I sit down and pretend I’m 10 again and get creative with words on paper. All kids are creative – it gets squeezed out of you as you get older.

David Baldacci’s latest novel is ‘The Hit’ (Macmillan)

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