From Jackson Mississippi, Richard Ford is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'Independence Day' and, of course, 'The Sportswriter' - a book which announced one of American fiction's best known characters, Frank Bascombe. Ford's latest novel, 'The Lay of the Land', is the third and final Frank Bascombe book in which Frank, now 55 and settled in New Jersey, contends with what he optimistically calls the "Permanent Period of Life". But things are never as settled as he hopes. His second wife leaves him; his first wife shows up and his health takes a turn for the worse. John Kelly met Richard Ford recently and discussed his relationship with Frank Bascombe, a character he invented some 24 years ago. 'The Lay of the Land' is published by Bloomsbury at €15.