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Why Archer releases his books in India first

Ketaki.Desai@timesgroup.com

Lord Jeffrey Archer considers himself to be a storyteller, first and foremost and then a writer. The difference, as he explained at the Times LitFest while in conversation with author Ravi Subramanian, is that writing can be taught but telling a good story is “a god-given gift, like being a ballet dancer, opera dancer or violinist, none of which I could do”.

Archer, whose books have sold 275 million copies worldwide, has frequently visited India, and often launches his books here for an unusual reason. “The day the book comes out anywhere in the world, some entrepreneurial Indian buys one copy, flies back to India and has it printed and on the streets three days later and there’s nothing I can do about it,” he says.

While he does love India, he’s currently on hiatus from that feeling. “I will not be loving India for a while because we are in battle with you on the cricket

pitch,” he says, adding that he’s been privileged to meet many Indian cricketers because they read him, including Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

Archer is in the midst of writing the fifth book in his series following the character William Warrick. Not wanting to write just another police or crime story, he developed an interesting idea. “I decided my young man would go into the police force as a constable on the beat. I would write a different book every year where he went from constable to commissioner of the metropolitan police,” he says. “I have four years to get him to commissioner so I have to live long enough to do that.” The 81-year-old also recently published, with Pan Macmillan India, three children’s books he wrote for his kids 40 years ago.

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