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Interview with Jeffrey Archer: “I feel very lucky not to have suffered writer’s block.”

Now published in 97 countries and more than 33 languages, Jeffrey Archer is firmly established as one of the world’s bestselling authors, with international sales passing 275 million copies. 

He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (nineteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries).

Jeffrey has been married for 53 years to Dame Mary Archer DBE, who was until October 2012 chairman of Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (incorporating Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie Hospitals).

In January 2015 Mary was appointed by the Prime Minister as Chairman of the Science Museum Group. They have two sons, William and James, three grandsons and two granddaughters, and divide their time between homes in London, Cambridge and Mallorca.

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1) Hi Jeffrey, thanks for joining us today. For those who may not know, can you please tell us a little bit about your writing career to date?

I am an author of 28 novels, 7 sets of short stories (92 in all), one Gospel, three plays (all of which have been performed in the West End) and four children’s books. Outside of writing, in my younger days I ran the 100 yards in 9.6 seconds for Great Britain in 1966 and served as a Member of Parliament for five years. I’ve been a member of the House of Lords for thirty years. I’m also an art collector and amateur auctioneer, conducting around 10 charity auctions a year, which have raised over £50m in the last 30 years for good causes.  

2) Can you take us behind the creative process for your upcoming book, Next in Line

My new book, Next in Line, will be published worldwide in September 2022 and is the fifth William Warwick novel, featuring Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick. My plan is to take William through eight books and eight ranks. I started the series with Nothing Ventured with William Warwick as a constable on the beat in London, and the aim is for him to end up as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

So in each book he’s a different rank and has to tackle a different set of crimes including art theft, drugs, and murder. In Next in Line, William and his Scotland Yard squad are sent in to investigate the elite Royalty Protection Command. But it soon becomes clear the problems in Royalty Protection are just the beginning. A renegade organisation has the security of the country – and the crown – in its sights.

3) What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I write at my home in Mallorca, and I do have a set routine which I’ve followed for most of my writing life. I’ll get up around 5.30 and write from 6-8am, then break for breakfast and read the newspapers. Back to my desk at 10 until 12noon, when I’ll go for an hour’s walk and then have a light lunch – hopefully if the weather is good, on the terrace overlooking the Bay of Palma.

I then write from 2-4pm, take another break and maybe watch some sport on tv (preferably cricket) or read. My final writing session is from 6–8pm, after which I’ll have dinner and then watch a film or tv drama (something like The West Wing would be perfect), before bed around 10pm.

4) Can you talk about some of your must-have writing tools?

I write by hand with a rollerball on a lined A4 writing pad – always have done. I’ve never gotten to grips with a keyboard, though I can now send a text! On my desk I have a small clock, an hourglass, several pens and pencils, an eraser and a sharpener. I need silence when I write, so there’s no phone in my writing room (not even my mobile) and I only have the magnificent view over the Mediterranean to distract me. 

5) Whenever you hit a roadblock during a writing session, what are some of the methods you use to get back into the flow of things? 

I feel very lucky not to have suffered writer’s block, but of course there are occasions when I might struggle with getting a character out of a sticky situation. When that happens, I’ll usually go for a walk – the fresh air helps clear my thoughts – or take a bath or even just lie on the bed and try to clear my mind. I find the key is to relax. 

Next in Line will be published by HarperCollins in September 2022. Read more about Jeffrey and his books, including extracts and exclusive material, at jeffreyarcher.com.

Photo of Jeffrey’s writing workspace (courtesy of the author).

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