OMAHA – John Grisham will be the first to tell you, he’s a fan of Omaha, and it’s clear the feeling is mutual.
A large crowd turned out to hear from the best-selling author for the kickoff the new Marion Marsh Brown Writers Lecture Series, which will bring a writer to the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) each year
“I love Omaha”
The event was Grisham’s first time speaking in Omaha, but he was quick to tell the audience, he’s no stranger to the city.
“I’ve been here many times and hope to be here many more,” Grisham said to applause.
It turns out, he’s a fan of the College World Series.
“That’s all we talk about in June, Omaha.”
Throughout his lecture and a following conversation, Grisham shared stories from his time as a college baseball player, a lawyer, a state representative and a new writer.
He told the crowd that inspiration to start his first novel came out of the blue. In 1984, a real trial planted the seed of an idea: a father’s retribution.
Three years later, Grisham finished “A Time to Kill.”
“I didn’t know how to write a book,” Grisham confessed. “I poured my guts into it.”
The rest is history.
Stories About Mavericks
Before the event began, UNO Chancellor John Christensen thanked Grisham for speaking, revealing he was a fan and asking - in jest- if the author could avoid disclosing the end of “Gray Mountain.”
The Chancellor said he had found a consistent theme in many of Grisham’s main characters: they’re mavericks.
“[They] reflect the creative thinking, the advocacy, the passion and the tenacity that we see in all of our Maverick Family and our community,” he said. “Those are qualities we work hard to encourage, and to that end, events like tonight’s lecture truly are invaluable.”
The Beginning of Something Special
“We should have more of these,” Grisham told the crowd, saying he really liked the idea of bringing in authors to speak to a community and encourage aspiring writers.
Good news: we will have more of these.
This lecture was the first in the new Marion Marsh Brown Writers Lecture Series, made possible by the generosity of the Paul and Djel Ann Brown family.
The series pays tribute to Marion Marsh Brown, who served as a professor of English at UNO (then Omaha University) from 1954 through 1968. She wrote more than 15 books and is best known for her young adult literature. The Brown family plans to celebrate her life and work by bringing a well-known author to UNO annually.
Having the opportunity to hear and see enormously popular writers certainly encourages more reading. And for students who aspire to be writers, the series will encourage students that those careers are indeed possible.
- Paul Brown
“[The Browns] wanted a series that reflected their own love of reading,” said College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media (CFAM) Dean Gail F. Baker during her opening remarks. “Their vision was perfectly aligned with UNO’s vision.”
“It was a perfect match.”
Chancellor Christensen thanked the Browns for creating the series, praising it as a fitting tribute to Paul’s mother.
“Her legacy lives on in [her] books, and in this new series,” he said.
The Brown family was thrilled to have Grisham as the first speaker in the lecture series.
"Having the opportunity to hear and see enormously popular writers certainly encourages more reading," said Paul Brown. "And for students who aspire to be writers, the series will encourage students that those careers are indeed possible.”
The Brown family say they look forward to working with UNO students to promote this annual lecture series. MaverickPR, the UNO student-run public relations firm, is assisting with media outreach.