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John Grisham hates prologues and says his new novel "Camino Island" is a beach read

John Grisham on "Camino Island"
John Grisham talks new book "Camino Island" and writing tips 07:45

John Grisham's books have sold more than 300 million copies and each of his 29 previous novels landed at the top of the New York Times fiction bestsellers list.

His latest book, "Camino Island," centers on a bookstore owner, a young novelist suffering from prolonged writer's block and a heist of the original manuscripts of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novels.

Grisham joined "CBS This Morning" to discuss his new novel and share some of his writing tips.

"Camino Island"

"I wanted to write a beach book. For years, my novels have been criticized as being, you know, nothing more than beach books so I thought, 'OK, I'll show you a beach book,'" Grisham said.

The book is somewhat of a departure from his usual fare, still a mystery, but without the legal component. Grisham's love of rare books was another inspiration for the tale.

The story begins with a detailed account of a theft. Despite the detail, Grisham says he actually has no idea how such a crime would be pulled off.

"I faked it all. It's all fake. It's all -- I got it from Google," he said.

What is real, however, is the location of the rare manuscripts, which can indeed be found at Princeton University. Grisham even offered an apology to Princeton in his author's note for writing about their collection.

"The fear is you may inspire someone to try this," he said.

It's been a long time since Grisham has gone on a tour to bookstores but he is doing just that for "Camino Island."

Why? "I'm bored," Grisham joked.

"Best-selling writers should go to bookstores to say thanks to the booksellers, to meet fans, sign autographs, sign books, talk, whatever. And I'm going to do that for the first time in 25 years," he explained more seriously.

One of "Camino Island's" main characters is a man named Bruce Cable.

Grisham said Cable, whom he swears is entirely made up, "loves women, loves to drink and party, but he's also a very serious bookseller. He has a great bookstore, he makes a lot of money with rare books. Unknown to most folks, he dabbles in stolen, rare books and that's where he makes a lot of money and that's how he gets involved in this plot."

Despite the richness of Cable's character, Grisham insists that writing is as much about planning as it is about character development.

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"Most writers will tell you they have no idea when they start. They create a great character and that character takes over the action and they follow that character wherever he or she wants to go. That's total BS," according to Grisham.

Instead he says, you need to carefully plot your story before it starts. "I spend a lot of time outlining before I write the first word," he said.

Grisham also revealed one of his least favorite elements of a book: the prologue. "I hate prologues because they're kind of gimmicks to suck you in."

The author, whose books have been translated into nearly 50 languages, says that to be a successful writer, routine is important, too. "Until you're doing one page a day, every day, nothing's going to happen."

And one more piece of advice for writers: "There are three types of words. Words we all know, words we should know and words nobody knows. Don't use the third category."

"Camino Island" is out June 6.

For more of Grisham's writing tips, watch the above video

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