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Lee Child previews next Jack Reacher book, 'Night School' -- exclusive

And see the cover, below.

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Sigrid Estrada

This fall, Lee Child releases his next Jack Reacher novel: Night School, a prequel set during Reacher’s army days. EW is thrilled to reveal Night School‘s cover, exclusively, in advance of its Nov. 8 on-sale date. Child also gives us a taste of what we can expect from the book — and from the second Tom Cruise-starring Jack Reacher film, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell us about the plot of Night School? Where is it set?

LEE CHILD: It’s a prequel set back in 1996 — Reacher is still in the army, age 35, and he’s moved to an emergency task force because the intelligence services in Europe have plucked a menacing phrase from the air: “The American wants a hundred million dollars.” For what?

We’ve read that you don’t outline your books — you start from the first line and go from there. What is the first line of Night School?

True — I don’t outline. I let the story tell itself, line by line. I got the title Night School the night before I started writing. The first sentence is: “In the morning they gave Reacher a medal, and in the afternoon they sent him back to school.”

We’ve also heard that you drink a lot of coffee. What’s your daily record?

Love coffee, and need it. My record is 36 mugs in a day. Not cups.

Is it true that you sit down every September 1st to work on a new book?

Yes, as a ritual, because that’s the day I started my first. This time it was a close call — I was flying home from London the day before, ready to start, but the plane started leaking fuel and we had to spend an emergency night in Ireland. I made it home a day late at a quarter to midnight, but I still got the first sentence down. And part of the second!

What was it like being on set of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back?

Terrific — a great cast and crew, and a very happy, productive atmosphere. It’s going to be excellent.

What are you most excited to see onscreen?

Part of the story is a 16-year-old girl, who might (or might not) be Reacher’s daughter. At the read-through of their final scene together, Tom Cruise and Danika Yarosh gave me major goosebumps. Can’t wait to see that in the final version.