In an exclusive interview with Flipkart, world renowned author Jeffrey Archer talks about his latest bestseller – Only Time Will Tell, his books which have been adapted for TV, traveling in India, favorite Indian authors, a Cricket WC prediction and much more!
An introduction with Jeffrey Archer
What makes Jeffrey Archer tick?
Immense energy and a fascination with life.
Was there a particular person who inspired you to become a writer?
Alan Quilter, to whom Only Time Will Tell is dedicated – he was my English teacher at school.
As an author, how would you describe yourself?
I am quite simply, a story-teller.
Do you find that non-fiction/history tends to seep into the fiction you write?
Yes, it’s inevitable.
Any habits when it comes to getting down to writing? I notice you’re writing your latest work in Majorca…
I always go to my home in Majorca to write, because it’s quiet and there are no distractions there. I have a writing room that I use which overlooks the sea, and I write in two-hour blocks every day, from 6-8am, 10-12noon, 2-4pm, 6-8pm with a break in between each two hour session to eat or go for a walk.
After over three decades in publishing – what kind of audience do you have?
My audience is 60% women/40% men and ranges in ages from 7 to 107!
The books of Jeffrey Archer
If there was one of your books you could recommend to a new reader, what would it be and why?
Start with the first book I ever wrote, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less.
Kane & Abel marked a monumental step up in your career as a writer…
My life changed completely after the publication of Kane & Abel, which is now on its 84th reprint and has been read by 50 million people in India alone.
The Gospel According To Judas was an extremely unique, some would argue controversial book – what gave you the idea to write this?
I found it fascinating that Jesus chose 12 disciples and one of them could have been a bad man, so I tried to see the events in the Gospels through Judas’ eyes.
Your first set of non-fiction books were based on your experience in prison – can you tell us what the Prison Diaries are about and what message you were trying to convey?
There is no message, the Prison Diaries simply convey what life is like in a British prison.
Have you been happy with the TV-movie adaptations of your books? As an author whose book is being made into a movie and being put in the hands of a director, what is that like?
Three of my books have been adapted for television: First Among Equals, Not A Penny, and Kane & Abel. I was very disappointed with the BBC’s adaptation of Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, but ITV won several awards for First Among Equals, and Kane & Abel was watched by 17 million people when it was first televised, mind you, there were only 3 TV stations in those days; the original series has also just been released for the first time on DVD.
You have written solid collections of short stories over the years. Do you make a concerted effort that all the stories are connected in some way?
I enjoy writing short stories, although they have no connection with each other. I come up with stories inspired by people I meet, something that’s happened, or even from a passing comment someone has told me. I have learnt a great deal from your own distinguished storyteller, R K Narayan.
In your latest book of short stories, And Thereby Hangs a Tale, you’ve written about India and Indian characters, what was the inspiration behind this?
My Indian story, Caste-Off, is a true story inspired by two friends of mine, which made it all the more interesting to write.
Tell us about your upcoming project the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ and its first volume Only Time Will Tell.
The Clifton Chronicles is a five book saga of which ‘Only Time Will Tell’ is the first volume. They story will span the years from 1920 to 2020, and follow the hero, Harry Clifton, and his life from his birth in the backs streets of Bristol, through his time at Oxford University and to the outbreak of war.
Tell us about your experience as a PE teacher in your early days.
I’ve always enjoyed physical activity – athletics, rugby, and cricket – and there was a short period of time during which I took a PE teaching job.
Advice to young writers who would like to start pursuing it as a career?
I would suggest starting with a short story before attempting a novel. I didn’t write my first book until I was 34.
A staunch cricket fan – any predictions for the World Cup, can you comment on India’s chances?
I think the final will be between India and South Africa, and I predict India will win.
You’ve visited India on numerous occasions – what has the overall experience been like and what are the glaring changes you notice with each visit?
I always enjoy coming to India where the people are welcoming and friendly. I notice with each visit that while the rest of the world is staying still, India is one of those countries that is clearly progressing.
What are you currently reading?
The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal.