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Archer’s Gurgaon chronicles: I took advantage of my prison experience

British novelist Jeffrey Archer, who unveiled last installment of Clifton Chronicles in Gurgaon, believes that storytelling is God-gifted and a difficult art to master.

books Updated: Apr 28, 2017 18:22 IST
Naina Arora
Naina Arora
Hindustan Times
Gurgaon,Best Seller,Fiction
Author Jeffrey Archer visited Gurgaon recently and addressed a packed amphitheatre of book lovers.

“I came down here to celebrate England winning the cricket match against... (starts laughing),” the best selling British author, Jeffrey Archer —famously called ‘the storyteller’— said while addressing a large gathering in CyberHub’s Amphitheatre, Gurgaon.

Archer was in the city as part of his four-city tour in India to unveil This Was A Man, the seventh and final installment of Clifton Chronicles. At the age of 70, he took upon himself to write this set of books — a gigantic task even for a writer of his stature. Feeling sad that the volumes have come to an end, the 76-year-old novelist shared that he would love if a television series is made based on these books. “It’s been a thrilling ride at this stage of my career. The biggest challenge was to have an ending that will shock people. While I was flying from London, I was informed that my first granddaughter is born. I am pleased about it because I am aware that in India today, it’s women who are going to rule,” said Archer, who is known for works such as Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1976), Kane and Abel (1979), The Prodigal Daughter (1982).

Archer was a member of Parliament before he took up writing professionally. His name was embroiled in a few scandals, that ended his political career and he was subsequently imprisoned. On how it impacted him, he said he took advantage of that experience. “It taught me how privileged I was to have such a glorious life. Indeed, five books came out of it, along with short stories,” he said.

Did he plot the whole book from book one to seven even before he wrote it? “I never know more then three to four pages ahead. As a storyteller, I don’t know where the book is going. I don’t want to know, because if I know, you’ll know. Fun is when I follow it through, you follow it through with me,” he said.

Author Jeffrey Archer addresses a packed amphitheatre at CyberHub, Gurgaon

He asserts that he’s not a writer but a storyteller. His advice to budding writers is that they should think of themselves as ballet dancers. “That’s how hard it is. The gift of storytelling is God-given. I advise people to write what they know about. If you read the classics, or successful books, you can learn from the way there are constructed. There are some books you read and don’t understand why millions of people are reading them?If millions of people are reading a book I’d read it immediately to see what I’ve missed. For example, 50 Shades Of Grey. And I decided I hadn’t missed anything as that it isn’t what I do,” he added.

As for his favourite Indian writer RK Narayan, Archer echoed British novelist Graham Greene’s view that Narayan should have won the Nobel Prize. “He was a wonderful writer. Some of the greatest writers ever lived have come from this great continent,” he said.

On Donald Trumps’ election as the President of United States of America, he said: “We have got a strange situation now, in Unites States and Great Britain (referring to Brexit), that is sweeping across the world. People are voting for their leaders not to be politicians.In other words, if anyone stand ups and says I am not a politician, but I want to be a president, a lot of people vote for that person.I don’t know how it’ll work out with Trump. You wouldn’t go to your surgeon, and say you want your heart cut out, unless he’s a heart surgeon.”

First Published: Nov 23, 2016 18:54 IST