In 2010, I decided to take on the challenge of writing The Clifton Chronicles, a five-volume saga that would follow the life of Harry Clifton from 1920 to 2020. All I knew for certain when I sat down to write volume one, Only Time Will Tell, was that Harry Clifton was born in the back streets of Bristol in England; his father was a docker, his mother a prostitute, and his destiny was therefore surely to be one of mundane mediocrity. But at the age of seven, Harry discovers he has a talent given to few, the voice of an angel, and overnight his whole life changes.
Now I realise what a foolhardy enterprise this might have turned out to be, as I had no idea how this tale would progress, let alone how it would be received by my readers. But as I write this blog, volume two, The Sins of the Father, is No.1 on four continents: Australasia, Africa, Asia, and Europe, and I’ve recently completed the eighth draft of volume three, Best Kept Secret. Although I may not yet have reached the Promised Land, it is no longer out of sight.
How the world has changed. I have just returned from a tour of South Africa, taking in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, where I appeared on television, took part in radio shows, was interviewed by journalists, and went to book shops where I signed every copy in sight; the old fashioned way to get your book to No.1 on the bestseller list. In fact, in 1974, I did a 17-city tour of the United States in 24 days forKane and Abel, but not today for The Sins of the Father--that’s not what they want. Now, I write a daily blog which reaches 2.4 million readers a month, update my Facebook site, and send out half a dozen tweets, which means I don’t even have to leave my office, let alone sleep in 17 different hotel bedrooms.
For any Englishman, the final challenge, and by far the toughest, is to be No.1 on the New York Times Best Seller list. Although I achieved this with Kane and Abel, that was several years ago, and now, with only a few days to go before the U.S. publication of volume two, The Sins of the Father, I can do nothing except wait, and only time will tell.