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Fall of Giants

Daydreams & book-sale wishes

Ken Follett, David Baldacci, Robert Lipsyte, Janet Evanovich, as sorted best-seller types will book-sign and burble Sunday from prologue to epilogue. So why are they doing this?

“I want to sell books,” said hotshot author Ken Follett sounding more British than the Queen. “Even the most shy and highbrow want to do that. See, we writers live in solitude. In our imaginations. Ideas are inborn. As a kid, before I had any kind of job, I’d daydream about being a cowboy or pirate. Now I must structure my daydreams, and that’s why I’ll speak at this New York Times seminar.”

His newest, Fall of Giants, is the first in a trilogy. About World War I and the Russian Revolution. I researched in St. Petersburg, Berlin, even in Buffalo because that’s the site of the first Russian Orthodox church in America.

“My books take 2½ years to do. The story is paramount. I begin with an outline, spend long hours doing a 50-typed-page, chapter-by-chapter outline. Before computers, I always had the latest typewriter. I had the first IBM. Having learned shorthand and typing, I use all 10 fingers. I once smoked while I worked, but it gave me a headache. Now it’s a lot of tea. I back up on a laptop and carry a memory stick in my pocket because I write on planes, trains, anywhere. Having worked in a newspaper, where you can’t expect quiet, I’m accustomed to noise.”

Ken Follett lives pretty good. Three houses in England, and the wife’s in Parliament. He says: “I initially celebrated the best-seller list by buying a bottle of Champagne. Now there’s plenty in my cellar so I needn’t buy a bottle.”

Cindy Adams, The New York Post, 29 September 2010