John Grisham talks new novel "Rogue Lawyer"

John Grisham never dreamed of being an author until he witnessed a dramatic criminal trial as a young lawyer. In 27 years, Grisham has written 30 novels for adults and five for young readers, most of them legal thrillers, and has sold over 300 million copies of his books.


In Grisham's latest novel, "Rogue Lawyer," Sebastian Rudd is a gun-carrying attorney whose office is a bullet-proof van. He takes cases that no one else is willing to take, which is a quality Grisham admitted he admired.

"I practiced law for 10 years, and I always admired the lawyers who were not afraid to take unpopular cases. And I never had the guts to do that," Grisham said Wednesday on "CBS This Morning." "I was playing it safe. I was trying to make a living. And I just never volunteered for a really tough case, and there were some of them I should've taken. And I admired the lawyers who did."

Grisham described Rudd as a character at war with police, prosecutors, politicians and big corporations.

"He's not worried about morals or values. He's doing his job, and he does his job so well that if he thinks the cops and prosecutors are cheating, he's going to cheat," Grisham said. "If they legitimize cheating, it's wide open for him. And that's what makes the book really fun, when he starts cheating."

In society, Grisham said everyone pays "lip service" to the idea that even the bad people are entitled to a fair trial.

"That means [a] good lawyer. Those good lawyers have got to come from somewhere, and so it's up to people like Sebastian to represent," Grisham said.

Nine of Grisham's books have become movies, starring Hollywood's biggest names, but not in the last 10 years.

"The studio system is so broken and different than it used to be," Grisham said.

But he said he thought "Rogue Lawyer" would be a better TV series than a film.

"I hope it's the first of a series of stories, books about this guy. There are a lot of stories he has to tell, and I want to tell [them] through him and explore other books to come. But there's a lot of adventures and a lot of episodes with this guy," Grisham said.

The author said he'd want to explore the issue of mass incarceration, harsh sentences and a "drive to put everybody in jail."

"Finally, as our prison population ages, we realize how expensive this stuff is. And you've got people in there for 20 and 30 years for non-violent offenses who should not be in there. And so it's a different issue for a different time, but the mass incarceration for young drug dealers, non-violent people is epidemic," Grisham said.