Perhaps the fact that Lord Jeffrey Archer churns out one or two books every year, explains why he has never had writer’s block. He’s a ruthlessly disciplined writer, he tells us, before adding that the next five years of his life is set. “I’m writing a series of five books called the Clifton Chronicles.”
Archer is in the city to launch Landmark’s latest store at Palladium and announce the worldwide release of his latest collection of short stories — And Thereby Hangs a Tale. He has included true stories from all over the world — US, Germany, England and even India. “People tell you stories all the time and if you’re lucky you get one story in that 20, that you really want to write about,” he says.
He tells us how he found the Indian story, Caste Off: “About two years ago, I was in Mumbai at a party where I met this couple — two Hindus from two different castes who fell in love. The twist that I’ve given is unbelievable.”}
He makes a face when asked whether he thinks any of his books have the potential for a Bollywood adaptation. “Well, they’ve stolen Not a Penny More Not a Penny Less, and Kane and Abel. Caste Off is a natural Bollywood story. But they won’t be able to steal it because they can’t invent my ending.” His other books, Paths of Glory, Prisoner of Birth and Matter of Honour are already in the process of production in Hollywood, he informs.
Bollywood steals stories
Archer rues, “They steal stories all the time. Anywhere else, you’d be sued.” Ask him what makes him a bestseller and he shrugs, “Well, you could do it too. It’s not like you go, ‘Hey, I’m going to write like this and become rich and famous!’”
While he makes his point clear without mincing words most of the time, the former politician also knows how to guard his answers well. Quiz him about whether he’d ever write on homosexuality and curt comes the reply: “Not interested.”
Talking about his passions, Archer reveals that he’s “mad about cricket.” He says, “I was destined to be one of the world’s greatest batsmen, but nobody other than me realised that. I’m the (Sachin) Tendulkar of England.” He hates T20. “ A test match is the real thing. It’s great to watch VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid playing all day.”
He denies that writing and fitness are two incongruous words: “There’s this feeling that writers are strange people who smoke and drink all day. That’s rubbish! If you’re fit, you’ve got a better chance of producing a better novel. I go to the gym three times a week and walk long distances every day.” Though one thing that he would never do in India, no matter how fit he is, is driving. He starts mock crying, ‘No, no, no… never!” He’d rather relax and sit back, he tells us, before declaring his appointment at the spa.
As a popular fiction author, do you have to keep the reader in mind?
You can’t do that. You have to write your own thing. And you can just pray that the public likes what you’ve written.
How did you get your first break?
My first book Kane and Abel, was rejected by 14 publishers. I had to wait for 18 months to get it approved. You have to be persistent in this field.
What kind of responses are you expecting for this book?
The response has never changed for my last 10 books, they have always been No 1. Indians are perhaps my biggest and most consistent fans — 50 million have read Kane and Abel.
What about your next novel?
I have completed the first draft of Clifton Chronicles. It will release in India in March next year.
- Aarefa Johari