Like most authors, Ken Follett often mines his past for ideas.
For instance, Billy Williams, a 13-year-old Welsh character, is based on Follett’s grandfather. “Like Billy, my grandfather went to work in coal mines when he was a teenager,” he smiles, “Though he died when I was only 10, I remember the stories my mother told me and I incorporated some of them in my book.”
Seated comfortably in a city five star hotel, the 61-year-old author is here strictly on business -- to promote his latest book, Fall of Giants, that revolves around five families during World War I and the Russian Revolution. The book is the first in a planned trilogy; the next book will follow the lives of the protagonists’ children through World War II and the Great Depression. The third, due in 2014, will see their grandchildren deal with the Cold War.
For Fall of Giants, Follett spent six months only reading about 20th century history, studying characters and world leaders and another two years writing the novel. “I have Lenin and Winston Churchill having fictional conversations with people in my book. It is important that I understand the way they think,” he says.
Will he be writing any historical novels set in India? “Possibly. But I feel that I will be competing against fantastic Indian authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri and Salman Rushdie. RK Narayan’s Malgudi Days has been my all time favourite. Such quality of work is always intimidating,” he says.