Jeffrey Archer discusses Mightier Than the Sword, Volume 5 of The Clifton Chronicles.
Video courtesy of Pan Macmillan UK.
I think looking back the books have gone as I would want them and the one that I’ve just handed in, the fifth, leads very neatly on to the sixth and I’ve been preparing that for some weeks now, mentally, making the odd jottings and notes.
Obviously I haven’t got a clue how it’s going to pan out. But I’ve got an idea what we’re going to do with Harry and with Giles, and with Emma and with Lady Virginia.
But that will not be settled until I go away. I think that’s the fun.
The big one was when we came to the end of this book, Mightier Than the Sword, without giving too much away, there’s a letter. And my agent, Jonathan Lloyd, rang me and said,
“oh my god”, he said, “what’s in the letter? What’s in the letter? What’s in the letter, Jeffrey?”
And I said, “I tell you if I knew myself”.
I knew about a week later because my mind played with what would be in the letter for a week. But when he asked me, I’d finished the book, handed it in to him to read.
When he asked me, I didn’t know what was in the letter. I was very angry with the Lady Virginia and decided in the court case, in the trial against Emma, we would kill her.
We would finish her off. We would ruin her.
So I had a very, very clever QC questioning her. And I thought the QC will whack her to pieces. So he asks his first question and Virginia whacks him.
So I asked another question, which I thought was pretty deadly. She whacks him again. And she took me in a totally different direction than that I had planned. So that when I got to the end of the courtroom soon, she’d killed the QC, the QC hadn’t killed her.
And then there was one sentence she couldn’t answer. The great, um, Corley Smith, arguably one of the great editors of history who edited J .D. Salinger, always said, make it much more difficult than it needs to be.
Make it so difficult that the reader is sitting there saying, how will that happen? The fun is setting it up in such a difficult way that when you find the right solution, you know they’ll enjoy it.