With many bestsellers like
The Pillars Of The Earth
to his name, Ken Follet might appear to be a stiff-upper lipped British author but that is just a misconception. Just out with his latest book
, Fall of Giants,
a concoction of war, love, sex, spies and revolution, the author is ecstatic with the response. On being told that the roadside book vendors are running out of pirated versions of the book, he is surprised, "Ah! I take it as a compliment. I'm very pleased with the response, the book is doing even better than
World Without End.
People are liking it and are looking forward to the second book of the Century trilogy.
'I don't have a muse'
On being asked about the inspiration behind the book he reveals, "I don't have epiphanies. Some people talk about their muse but I'm very practical. I get inspiration from history, I read something and think I can write a story about it. So with
Fall Of Giants,
I began with reading history books and then about characters I can put into these situations, running around the corridors, or storming of the Russian palace."
'I'm not cleverer than the reader'
While many authors swear by the 'we have a right to preach mantra', Follet doesn't believe in being didactic. "I'm not cleverer than the reader, I don't have the right to wag my finger and say that this is what you should believe, I don't think that's what novels are about. I have my own political ideas but I don't want to give a sermon on that. As an author what I have is imagination and I ask the reader to come with me, I'll show you what it was like" If I want to be a popular writer, I need to make my readers emotionally involved."
'Forbidden love is sexy'
Known for racy thrillers, Fall Of Giants seems to have less sexual exploits. But the author laughs off the allegation. "I'm surprised you say that! The book has a lot of sex but it's set in an era where there were severe restrictions on people. It would be scandalous if a woman were seen kissing and therefore most of the sex scenes in the book are about finding an opportunity when the lovers can be alone just for a few seconds. They snatch those moments of love but have to stop and that is I think is very sexy," he retorts animatedly.
'I hate making mistakes'
To avoid any errors in historical facts, Follet has taken the trouble of getting the book cross-examined by eight historians. He explains, "I hate making mistakes; if a reader notices a mistake, the spell is broken. But I can say to readers if Trotsky or Lyod George are saying something in the book, you can trust it."
'Novel gives a personal angle to history'
Follet explores the issue of how women fought the political battle to get the women's vote. He gives you a peek into the personal side of the political battle, something you won't find in a history book. "If I tell the story of 20th century, it will talk about the change in woman's role in society. I wanted to show how women fought a political battle." He shows what made individual women keep aside their silk gloves and take up the suffragette cause. "Why women marched and went to jail wasn't merely abstract. The characters' desire and strength to fight for the cause came from their own lives."
'Wikileaks is mischief'
With strong viewpoints on political activities, the author is surprisingly ambivalent towards the Wikileaks scandal, "Everybody knows that you say some things in private but wouldn't say that in public. You are frank with colleagues and friends but have to be diplomatic officially. Wikileaks is making trouble where there needn't be, but then some times blowing the whistle on what the government is doing is important. Problem with Wikileaks is that it's random, some things are merely embarrassing, so I'm ambivalent about it," he says.
(Fall Of Giants, published by Macmillan)