MASTER storyteller Jeffrey Archer can sweep you off with his charm equally deftly as he can fascinate you with his writings. The sprightly 70-year-old has come out with his latest fiction- Only Time Will Tell. One can’t help but notice that Lord Archer’s personal life too reads like a fascinating page turner; spiked with highs and troughs, punctuated with enigma, controversies, and remarkable success. The inimitable story-spinner shares with Urmila Rao some aspects of his life.
Q: Did you have any inclination towards writing, back in your school and college days?
A: No. I always wanted to be in politics, and was lucky to be elected a Member of Parliament. But after five years, and at the age of 34, I made some bad financial investments, and had to leave the Parliament. So I turned to writing.
Q: Which teacher/professor do you remember the most and why?
A: My English teacher, Alan Quilter, who instilled in me a love of books and reading. I’ve dedicated my new novel to him.
Q: You produce fascinating stories. How have you trained your mind to think differently?
A: I don’t think you can train your mind. You can’t learn writing in classrooms. It is a gift.
Q: In India, often times, parents impose their career-will on children. Your take?
A: Parents want the best for their children. Parents can only give them the best education they can and allow them to choose their own path. Children have intelligent mind and they can decide for themselves.
Q: What careers have your children chosen?
A: One is a financial adviser and the other is a film maker. They have gone their own routes.
Q: A writer’s occupation is not well-paying till one becomes famous. What is your advice to youngsters who want to be writers?
A: Earn enough money to live on. Write short stories before you move on to novels and make sure you have a day job.
Q: Did you have any idea that your first novel will do so well?
A: When I wrote “Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less” I had no idea that it would be successful. But the real big breakthrough came with my second novel “Kane and Abel”. It sold five million copies.
Q: How is your typical day like?
A: The ‘writing days’ start with waking up at 5:30 a.m. I write for 2 hours, 6-8 a.m., take 2-hour break, resume writing from 10-12 p.m., break for lunch and to go for a walk, write for another 2 hours, followed by two hours of rest, then write from 6–8 p.m. On ‘non-writing’ days I work in my London office, I answer letters and emails, visit the theatre and art galleries, and write my blog, which is read by around 900,000 people.
Q: How do you view Indian youth?
A: The new generation is well-educated, lively and natural traders. Indians are making immense progress, women are treated equal to men. The new generation is going to be very important in the world context.
Q: What do you fear the most?
A: (Laughs) India beating England in cricket.