What do you think of your fans in India?
Readers are basically the same all over. They’re all interested in love, hatred, battles, marriage, romance and making or losing money.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
History plays a vital role in my stories.
What must you do to engage readers?
The reader must react emotionally. His heart must beat faster, he must shed tears or be angry or scared about what’s going to happen to the hero. Only then it’s a great story.
Does the publisher dictate on what sells?
No publisher has ever told me what to write. I make intellectual property and license it. It’s always me thinking and writing what I choose.
Any favourites among your novels?
Eye of the Needle is my favourite. I’m amazed how I could write it at 27. Also, Pillars of the Earth since many didn’t want me to write it and even said it would be my downfall.
It’s only thrillers that excite you.
History, espionage and secret intelligence are always exciting. My latest, Fall of Giants, has lots of secret agents, espionage.
Is there a line between fact and fiction?
Pillars of the Earth is a fiction. I could’ve written it around a real cathedral but there are 50-year gaps in the story and it would’ve been difficult to write. Hence, it’s much easier to take a fictional cathedral.
Don’t writers have to be honest?
Writers don’t have this special dispensation to tell others what’s right or wrong. I’m not smarter than my readers. I just create fiction.
What makes a successful writer?
Essentially they must be imaginative and have sufficient skills with words. They have to be communicators, then comes the craft.
Who were your early influences?
I learnt a lot by reporting on crime. Enid Blyton taught me that literature is exciting. James Bond stories were the best. Even today my aim is to have the same excitement for a reader as I had while reading James Bond.