Ken Follett Wants His Books to Feel as Exciting as James Bond

From a story on headlined “Ken Follett Wants His Books to Feel as Exciting as James Bond”:

Ken Follett’s The Armor of Light is now available from Viking, so we asked him a few questions about his writing practice, his favorite books, and more.

What time of day do you write (and why)?

I write all day, Monday to Friday. I usually take weekends off but if I’m coming up to a deadline, I’ll write all day Saturday and Sunday as well too if I need to. I like to get up early and start at seven or eight o’clock in the morning and I finish around five o’clock in the afternoon.

About that time, I start to struggle a little creatively, I get restless, I don’t have any ideas and I think to myself that it’s time for a glass of champagne.

How do you tackle writer’s block?

I’ve bee very fortunate not to have suffered from writer’s black. I’ve never sat down at my desk and thought I have no idea what to write next. I’ve always had a waterfall of story ideas flowing in my head.

However, the difficulty for me lies in figuring out which ones are the good ones. Sometimes an idea doesn’t work out. It often happens that I spend two or three weeks working on an idea before deciding that it’s just not going to cut it. Then I have to scrap it and try something new. Now, that’s not quite the same as having writers block but it can still be quite demotivating.

Which of your characters is your favorite?

I have always liked Prior Philip from my novel, The Pillars of the Earth, because he is about as different from me as a character can get. He’s a devout Christian, while I’m an atheist. He dedicates his life to helping other people, which I did not, and he has a complete disinterest in women. He is the ideal of a good person and someone I admire enormously.

What was the first book you fell in love with (why)?

That would have been Noddy Goes to Toyland by Enid Blyton. It was one of the first books I read and the book which gave me the reading bug.

However, the first adult novel that I fell in love with was probably Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming. His books got me invested in exciting stories. When I started writing fiction, my aim was to give readers the same excitement that I got from James Bond.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you do instead?

I have always enjoyed music and playing the bass guitar. I’m currently in a band called ClogIron and we play a few gigs each year at different venues around the UK.

While I’d love to say that I would have been a musician, the likelihood is that I would have continued in journalism. I was a reporter, first in Wales and then in London, before I became a novelist. I was born curious, and I’ve always loved listening to other people’s stories. Speaking to people was my favorite part of being a reporter.

The Armor of Light by Ken Follett is available via Viking.

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