"India is the most important nation for me as a writer"

Mar 07, 2013, 01:06 IST | Kanika Sharma

It's World Book Day, and who better than the master of cliffhangers, Jeffrey Archer, to be in India as part of Landmark Jeffrey Archer Tour, to divulge (and keep) secrets on Bollywood, his writing mantras and on the skeleton in the cupboard between the Clifton and Barrington families

You are one of the world’s most read authors. At 70, you’ve embarked upon this most ambitious project. Now, you’ve launched the Best Kept Secret. What is behind this — astute judgment or a never-say-die adventurous streak?
I still enjoy writing, and always look forward to starting a new book, and at 70, I needed to set myself a challenge — to write The Clifton Chronicles, five books in a row in five years. So far, I’ve completed book one, Only Time Will Tell, book two, The Sins of the Father, and the latest, Best Kept Secret. I’m frightened to slow down, and don’t intend to stop working!

Your second installment of The Clifton Chronicles — The Sins of the Father was released last year in New Delhi before its global launch. This time, you’re in India for the launch of The Best Kept Secret. Why India? Why now?
I have to come to India because it’s probably the most important nation on earth for me as a writer, with 250 million people who read English, and perhaps more importantly, you’re a nation who loves books. My books always come out around March/April, as I like to follow roughly the same writing schedule each year. India has been kind to me over the years, so it’s a pleasure and fun to return.

One can’t help but notice some stereotypical Indian plot devices focused on generations, unknown lineage and fast forwarding of time in the five-novel saga? What are your views on a Bollywood adaptation of any of your novels?
I am well aware of the normal Indian plot devices as shown in Bollywood movies, and have no objection to one of my books being made into a film — indeed, I would be delighted — as long as it has a first-class director, a first-class cast, and is properly financed. So far, no one has made a serious offer.

You are the master of cliffhangers, they say. What is your take on the thriller genre in Indian writing in English? Your advice to aspiring writers?
Hard work has no substitute. Write about what you know, write with enthusiasm, and persevere! There’s an advantage if you’re a natural storyteller, like RK Narayan. But don’t imagine that a book as brilliant as Malgudi Days is knocked off in no time; it takes hours of hard work to make it look easy.

You have covered six decades of your century-spanning saga. Could you divulge a few clues to decipher The Best Kept Secret?
The words ‘best kept secret’ refer to something the Clifton and Barrington families are hiding, that comes out in this book and will change their lives forever. And no, I am not giving you any clues as to what happens next! I’m looking forward to my visit next week.
on March 11, 7 pm onwards, at Infiniti Mall, Link Road, Andheri (W). 

Best Kept Secret,

Jeffrey Archer, Pan Macmillan, Rs 350. Available from March 11. 

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