The Spark

The Spark with Tift Merritt: John Grisham

Virtual Event
June 30, 2022
7:30 PM

NOTE: Due to a scheduling conflict, The Spark with Tift Merritt featuring John Grisham will now air June 30, 2022. No action is required for current (May 26, 2022) ticketholders. Please contact our box office with any questions or concerns.

Registration for this event closes at 6:30 PM ET on Thursday, June 30, 2022. Available on-demand for all ticketholders for 72 hours, beginning June 30, 2022 at 7:30 PM ET. Suggested ticket donation (per household) is $15. Tickets available starting at $0.

Join us for The Spark with Tift Merritt featuring John Grisham, the New York Times bestselling author renowned for his breathtaking legal thrillers.

How do you light a spark? How do you make something true? How does art happen? What is mumbled on the way in the studio and how can we hear it? 

Welcome to The Spark.

Tift Merritt

Originally a criminal attorney, John Grisham was inspired to write what he experienced in court. “I seriously doubt I would ever have written the first story had I not been a lawyer,” Grisham says. “I never dreamed of being a writer. I wrote only after witnessing a trial.”

Now a #1 New York Times bestselling author, Grisham is perhaps best known for his works “The Pelican Brief,” “The Client,” and “A Time to Kill.” His latest work, “The Judge’s List,” has been acclaimed as a “sleek suspense novel about the hunt for a serial killer who is also a sitting judge” (NYT).

Grisham is a longtime supporter and advocate of The Innocence Project, an organization that exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.

This final, can’t-miss creative conversation of the season will be pre-recorded at the UNC Hussman School of Media and Journalism’s new Curtis Media Center. 

Runtime: approximately 60 minutes. Recording of CPA virtual events is not permitted. If you have questions or concerns related to accessibility, please contact us. 

The Spark with Tift Merritt logo

About The Spark

Based on the series Merritt produced for the acclaimed Marfa, Texas Public Radio, The Spark peels back the polished performance to reveal the elbow grease, risk, fire and courage behind the art — and artists — we think we know.

About the Artists

About John Grisham

John Grisham is the author of more than thirty novels, one work of nonfiction, a collection of stories, and seven novels for young readers. The New York Times calls him an “unapologetic master of the industrial-strength page turner.”

After graduating from law school at the University of Mississippi in 1981, John Grisham began a career practicing law, specializing in criminal defense and personal injury litigation. In 1983, he was elected to the Mississippi State House of Representatives and served until 1990.

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Inspired by cases and testimony, Grisham started to write as a hobby, getting up at 5 AM to write for an hour every morning before work. After three years, Grisham completed his first novel, “A Time to Kill,” in 1987. Initially rejected by many publishers, it was eventually bought by Wynwood Press, who printed 5,000 copies and published it in June 1989.

His second novel, “The Firm,” was received with wider acclaim, with Grisham selling the film rights to Paramount Pictures and the book rights to Doubleday. “The Firm” spent forty-seven weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and became the best-selling novel of 1991.

Since publishing his first novel, Grisham has written at least one novel a year, all of them international bestsellers, including the republished hardcover edition of “A Time to Kill” by Doubleday in 1993.

Artist Tift Merritt looks to the side with a slight smile.

About Tift Merritt

Tift Merritt wanted to be a writer until her father taught her guitar chords and Percy Sledge songs. In her 20-year career, she has toured around the world with her sonic short stories and garnered a reputation for making her own way and setting an interesting artistic table. The New Yorker calls her “the bearer of a proud tradition of distaff country soul that reaches back to artists like Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry.” Emmylou Harris calls her “a diamond in a coal mine.”

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Taking time off the road to raise her daughter, Merritt began work on forthcoming site-specific projects by way of collecting objects at an old motel and an abandoned asylum as forgotten, essential language.  Merritt collects artist interviews about process and integrity on The Spark for Carolina Performing Arts. She lives in North Carolina with her daughter, Jean.

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