Jeffrey Archer: 'Elena Ferrante does for Naples what Dickens did for London'

The author discusses Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity, his writing room in Majorca and resembling Toad in Toad of Toad Hall

Thursday 25 February 2016 15:56 GMT
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Archer says: 'I'd like to believe I resemble Richard Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps, not least because I'm such an admirer of John Buchan'
Archer says: 'I'd like to believe I resemble Richard Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps, not least because I'm such an admirer of John Buchan' (Broosk Saib)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm sitting in my writing room in Majorca overlooking the Bay of Palma. To my right is the city of Palma with the Tramuntana Mountains in the distance, in front and to my left, sea, sea and sea.

What are you currently reading?

Elena Ferrante's My Brilliant Friend. I couldn't have imagined that a book about two girls growing up in Naples could appeal to me, but it's magnificent. Ferrante does for Naples what Dickens did for London.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

Stefan Zweig's Beware of Pity combines great storytelling with wonderful prose. It's among my favourite books, and if you've not come across the Austrian author, you have a thrill to look forward to.

Describe the room where you usually write

My writing room in Majorca overlooks the sea, and is about 20 by 12 feet. The back wall is lined with bookshelves. I have a large desk, on which there are six pens, six pencils, an eraser and a pencil sharpener. On the right of the desk is a picture of [my wife] Mary taken in Rome, and to the left photos of my two sons and two grandsons.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I'd like to believe Richard Hannay in The Thirty-Nine Steps, not least because I'm such an admirer of John Buchan, but I fear I'm more like Toad in Toad of Toad Hall.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

George Mallory. Any man who wants to conquer the highest mountain in the world and only has a grainy black and white photograph to inspire him is quite a guy. But the fact that he had to walk the last 100 miles before he even reached the base of the mountain, lets you know his strength of character.

Jeffrey Archer's 'Cometh the Hour' is published by Macmillan

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