Rendezvous with the master story teller

A former politician and member of the UK parliament, Lord Jeffrey Archer, whose Kane and Able sold a million copies, almost went bankrupt until he revived fortunes with his story telling and novels. This master story teller as he calls himself, is one of the most popular fiction writers among readers in India.

Lord Jeffrey Archer / Photo credit: Crossword book store.  

At the age of 76, Lord Archer managed to pack in a whirlwind four-city tour of India in the last week of November, concluding his last leg in Mumbai. Long lines of autograph seekers with copies of The Clifton Chronicles series  at the Crossword bookstore awaited him.

According to Crossword CEO Kinjal Shah, "Every time he comes to India, he is greeted by packed audiences, who hang on to his every word. We must remember, that to many of us, he represents one of the greatest wordsmiths of our times, and his stories will remain so for many generations to come.''

Lord Archer talks about his entire journey of writing seven books for the series in this interview with Swetha Amit, and his ability to deal with criticism and his forthcoming book.

In 2015 when your fifth book of the Clifton Chronicles was  released, you said there would be two more books in this series. Now that book numbers 6 and 7 are out, how would you describe this entire journey of penning down 7 books back to back?
Well it has been quite a struggle. A lot of hard work has gone into making these characters and weaving out a story that has spread over decades within one family. A million words had to be incorporated over a span of seven years. So yes I would say it has been a tumultuous journey, but overall a very satisfying one.

It's not easy for an author to say goodbye to his characters especially when he has invested the last 7 years in creating them. How do you personally feel now that the Clifton Chronicle series has come to an end?
Well yes it definitely is hard to say goodbye to my characters. I have been living with them for seven years and they have become an integral part of my life. I do feel a sense of void. In fact not only me, these characters I realize have become a part of a lot of people's lives as well.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan / Price: Rs 599  

Your sixth book of the series Cometh the hour has a few chapters based in Mumbai. What made you choose Mumbai as the backdrop for these chapters?
Well I have always enjoyed being in the city of Mumbai whenever I have visited India. It's a city that is bustling with activity and I love the people over here. They have always been very warm and receptive. The spirit of this city has caught my fancy many a time.

Your books stress that you just cannot give up on your family irrespective of all their misgivings.  Do you think your book will help in reinstalling faith in the family values which seems to be diminishing in the upcoming younger generation?
Well, I certainly hope so. In fact at my book launch in Bangalore, the 2,600 people who showed up were between the age group of 18-22. This indicates that the next generation certainly place a strong emphasis on family values. Even in the other cities that I went to, the people queuing up in lines to get these Clifton Chronicles series signed were of a similar age group.

Being one of the most revered and popular authors, you would have received a lot of accolades and adulation. Yet with popularity also comes with a fair share of criticism. How do you deal with that?
Well if its genuine criticism, then I take it as an opportunity to learn something from it. However, if it's not then I think that for every person who trashes my work, there's equally another one who says it's wonderful.

What are your plans now that the Clifton Chronicles series is over?
At present I am working on a series of short stories which will be launched early next year.

(See book excerpt: Book Excerpt from This was a man)