Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain’s House of Commons, fourteen years in the House of Lords, and two in Her Majesty’s prisons, which spawned three volumes of highly acclaimedPrison Diaries. All of his novels and short story collections---including Kane and Abel, Sons of Fortune, and False Impression---have been international bestsellers. Archer is married with two children and lives in London and Cambridge.
Question: What is the art of the come back?
Jeffrey Archer: You must achieve something, you must actually work and work and work to come back. You can’t just expect to be offered to come back. So, the work I did first on False Impression, which went to number two in the best sellers list and now on A Prisoner of Birth, you are quite right.
Very exciting for me that after only two days sales, it is number one on the Sunday Times best sellers list in England, and it is number one in Australia as well, and it comes straight on to the American list and that has been through damned hard work.
The art of the come back is remained quite and work hard.
Question: How do you convince others to give you a second chance?
Jeffrey Archer: I suspect that in my case, I didn’t lose any friends; my friends stood by me, the British public were immensely generous and warm and indeed. When I have been here in America, I found exactly that warmth and generosity.
But I repeat what I have said before; you have to have something to go with it, and I believe the success of A Prisoner of Birth as only said to people, he is working very hard again, he has come back as a writer.
Question: What is the role of redemption in your life?
Jeffrey Archer: I don’t think of it that way. I think what you have got to do is; I do; as I am sure; an immense amount of charity work last year.
I raised through my auctions, I love auctioneering, it is great fun. I rose just over $4 million and I have raised just over a $ 100 million in the last twenty years. So, I do things that I think are worth doing and I work very hard at my job.
Question: What did you learn about yourself during your time in prison?
Jeffrey Archer: I have a very privileged and lucky--I had been, I with a middle class background, and a wonderful job, and a wonderful life, how lucky I had been and how unfortunate many other people had been.
I had a young boy come to see me just before he was being released, he said “I will go place with you.”
And I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “I will be 61, when I come out, I have wife and the loving family, I have a wonderful job, I will travel all over the world, and then I have 20 years of happiness.”
And I said, “What do I get.”
He said “Well, you say when you will be 23 years old and you will be going out with $80--this is what they give you when you leave prison. And you will have no job, you have no family, and you have no one. What shall I do with I do without at all and you will heroin addict.”
In fact that young man died two years later, he was found under a hedge in Lincolnshire with a needle in his arm.
So I think the answer to your question is, I became very aware that how privileged and lucky I had been.
Question: Would you say your time in prison was beneficial to you?
Jeffrey Archer: Beneficial in the sense that it reminded me how lucky I had been. Certainly beneficial in the sense of the cost of characters I met and the stories I got. I certainly would never have been able to write A Prisoner of Birth without that experience.
Recorded on: March 15, 2008.