I knew I would like Ken Follett even before I met him—not just because he’s one of the few Authors you can spell with a capital letter (he’s sold in the region of 130-million books worldwide) or because I’ve actually read and enjoyed his work, but because his success is something he’s clearly worked for.

Like many writers, Follett was no overnight sensation: he had a day job and wrote novels in his spare time. He wrote a lot of novels before he became an Author with a capital A.

His first success, he explains on his website, was his 11th book (Eye of the Needle, 1978). Three decades and a number one New York Times best seller later, Follett hasn’t rested on his laurels. His latest book Fall of Giants (part one of a planned trilogy) was released late in 2010, and he’s already hard at work on the second installment. The Century Trilogy, as it’s called, will “tell the entire history of the 20th century, seen through the eyes of five linked families”. The first book focused on the World War I and the Russian Revolution. The next will cover the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the dawning of the nuclear age.

“Nothing else engages me like this, like writing,” Follett says. “Apart from, obviously, family. Right from a very young age I engaged with literature. And in those days, it was not uncommon for the older generation to worry we were reading too much—they’d ask: ‘Do you get out in the fresh air enough?’”

Read the full story on the Mail & Guardian website here.

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