Jeffrey Archer: Teller of tales

Bestselling novelist Jeffrey Archer is back with a brand new detective series. In conversation with Chethana Dinesh, he discusses why he writes what he writes, and more...
Last Updated : 14 September 2019, 19:30 IST
Last Updated : 14 September 2019, 19:30 IST

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It’s a pleasure connecting with him, no matter the mode. Always warm, always affable. With his pleasant sense of humour and clever retorts, master storyteller Jeffrey Archer sure knows how to keep his audience engaged. His books are a reflection of the interesting personality that he is.

The British author well-known for bestsellers like The Clifton Chronicles series, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, Kane and Abel, First Among Equals, A Prisoner of Birth, and many more, has a few quirks to his credit, too. Like, to this day, he doesn’t sign books in any pen offered to him, but a particular one in black ink. An avowed cricket fan, his most cherished dream is to captain the England cricket team. This Baron of Bestsellers’ latest offering is Nothing Ventured, the first book in the William Warwick series that traces the making of a detective.

Excerpts from an interview:

What can we expect from ‘Nothing Ventured’?

This is not a detective story, this is a story about a detective… William Warwick joins the Metropolitan Police as a young constable, and throughout the series, we will follow his career to becoming commissioner – as long as I live long enough!

How many books would the William Warwick series have?


How did the idea for this new series come to you?

Several readers had written to me after the Clifton Chronicles, saying they wanted to read more about William Warwick, the eponymous hero of Harry Clifton’s novels, and I decided to take up that challenge of giving him his own series.

Do you miss the Cliftons and the Barringtons from the Clifton Chronicles?

I do miss the Cliftons and the Barringtons – I had great fun writing that series – but I am now concentrating hard on William Warwick, and hope my readers will enjoy this new series just as much.

Your first novel, ‘Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less’, was published in 1976. About 43 years and 36 novels later, has your writing routine, or your approach to storytelling, changed?

I remain a disciplined writer working from 6-8 am, 10-12 noon, 2-4 pm, 6-8 pm, and after 43 years, I am sad to report there is no short cut. I still handwrite 10-12 drafts. As for the storytelling, I believe that is a God-given gift, and I am thankful every day that I am still inspired to write.

Your take on ebooks? What would you prefer to read? An ebook or a hardback?

I do have a Kindle – it is particularly useful when travelling – but my first choice would always be a real book.

Where do you write best?

I have a wonderful writing room at my home in Mallorca, which is on the end of a cliff, and I look out from floor to ceiling windows over the Bay of Palma. I can write here undisturbed with just the occasional boat to catch my eye, or the squawk of a seagull.

Your most difficult work to date…

Paths of Glory.

Your current read...

I’m reading for research at the moment, but the last novel I read was A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which I enjoyed very much.

If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?

Captain of the England cricket team.

Five favourite things…

Watching Somerset play cricket, going to Stratford to watch a Shakespeare play, visiting an art gallery in any major city, Italian food… and my beautiful grandchildren.

Your heroes in real life…

The doctors and nurses in my local hospital who operated on me for prostate cancer and saved my wife’s life.

Your idea of happiness…

Scoring 100 at Lords against India.

You’d never leave home without...

My front door key.

Your motto in life…

‘The heights by great men reached and kept,

Were not attained by sudden flight,

but they, while their companions slept,

Toiled ever upward in the night’.

— By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Your present state of mind?

Still passionately enjoying writing.

Your favourite Indian dish?

A mild chicken curry!

What’s on your writing desk?

This is my desk...

Any favourite fan anecdotes to share?

I love receiving emails from mothers telling me their children’s love of reading began with one of my books!

What, other than writing, interests you?

Theatre, art, sport.

Your love for cricket is well known. Your favourite cricketer?

The late Nawab of Pataudi, a close personal friend I was up at Oxford with.

One Indian cricketer you wish was on your country’s team?

Virat Kohli

England won the World Cup. You must be very happy…

And frankly surprised! Bravo New Zealand for the courteous and dignified way they took defeat.

Published 14 September 2019, 19:30 IST

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