“I don’t write about sex or violence. I believe if you give the readers a simple story they will read it,” Jeffrey Archer, celebrated author told a charmed audience at the Marriot Hotel here on Tuesday.
Lord Archer, in conversation with author and banker Ravi Subramanian, said he believed in hard work which was the key element separating the genius from the ordinary.
His latest project, Clifton Chronicles, Lord Archer said, had autobiographical elements. One essentially wrote about what one knew and therefore a story invariably ended up containing autobiographical elements.
Clifton Chronicles is a series of five books to come out back to back in five years, two of which are already out. Best Kept Secret, the third of the Clifton Chronicles is to release in India, ahead of its global launch, on March 14th next year. “If the book was released in the U.S. or U.K. before India, some enterprising Indian would buy a copy, go back to Bombay and the book would be on the stands in the next 48 hours,” he quipped.
“At a traffic signal in India, a book vendor once came up to me and said, ‘do you want the latest Jeffrey Archer?’ I said I was the latest Jeffrey Archer.”
Why do bestsellers, of the kind he wrote, lose out to more serious works when it came to literary awards, he was asked. “Hans Christian Anderson could not even write his own name till the age of 21, but he gave the world masterpieces like The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid,” because he was a master storyteller,” Lord Archer said. While the more “literary” works found favour with critics and award juries, it was the bestsellers that sold millions of copies.
His favourite authors were Charles Dickens, Scott Fitzgerald, William Shakespeare and Alexandre Dumas. While Fitzgerald excelled due to his ability to send the reader in the completely wrong direction, Shakespeare’s genius lay in making the reader desperate to know how a story would end. Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo was a book so masterful he wished he had written it.
Lord Archer also joined the debate on batsman Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement. “He is arguably the best cricketer I have ever seen, but he should have retired at least three years ago,” he said.