Lord Archer's tales charm audience
BEST-selling author Jeffrey Archer regaled an audience with tales about his life and novels to help launch Bristol's Big Read.
The former MP – now Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare – charmed the hundred-strong crowd at the central library as he discussed what inspired him with his latest series of books, the Clifton Chronicles, set in Bristol.
For more than an hour the writer, who has sold more than 250 million books worldwide, spoke about the lengths he had to go to in order to get published, and about how during a promotional tour he was upstaged on an American TV show by Mickey Mouse, before talking about the first novel in his new series, Only Time Will Tell.
Libraries in Bristol will be distributing over 500 free copies and hosting a Twitter discussion for readers to share their views on the book over the coming weeks.
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Lord Archer also answered questions for more than half an hour before signing copies of his books.
He said: "For my first book, Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less, the first 17 publishers turned it down. The 18th gave me an advance of £3,000 and published 3,000 copies in a year." It has now sold 27 million copies.
The author of 14 fiction bestsellers told the audience that, after he was jailed in 2001 for perjury, he wrote a million words in a year to stem the boredom, words which eventually became his three-volume memoir, A Prison Diary.
His latest bestseller follows the tale of Harry Clifton growing up in 1920s Bristol, taking the reader through landscapes such as the docks and Bristol Grammar School.
Lord Archer said: "If you are going to write it is always best to write about something you know. I know the West Country and I love this area."
The book took him 16 drafts to finish, writing for 1,000 hours over a year. He said he could not explain his talent for storytelling – but would give it all up to be a cricketer and play against Australia at Lord's.
Also confessing to being a lifelong Bristol Rovers fan, Lord Archer said: "I dreamed as a boy of being Bristol Rovers captain. Look where that would have got me."
A man in the front row answered: "Division Two."
Bristol's Big Read aims to get people in the city to read more and discuss literature.