Photo Credit: Olivier Favre
Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on best-selling author Ken Follett. Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 170 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages. Ken’s first success was Eye of the Needle (1978), a spy story set in the Second World War. In 1989 The Pillars of the Earth was published, and has since become Ken’s most successful novel, selling 27 million copies.
Ken’s next book, The Evening and the Morning, will be published on Tuesday 15th September 2020. It is a prequel to The Pillars of the Earth and is set around the year 1,000, when Kingsbridge was an Anglo-Saxon settlement threatened by Viking invaders.
Ken, our first question is, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
My books are available in all major bookshops and online retailers.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Follow me using the below:
Facebook: Ken Follett (Official)
Instagram: Ken Follett Author
What kind of research went into writing The Evening and the Morning? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the book, but you loved discovering?
There were lots of laws in the Dark Ages but they were sometimes ignored with impunity. The only legal case we know much about from this period involves a lord called Wulfbald who defied the king. When his father died he took over his stepmother’s lands. Now, one of the good things about Anglo-Saxon society is that women had the right to their own property, but Wulfbald flouted that law. His stepmother complained to the king, who ordered him to give the land back; he did not. The king fined him, but he did not pay the fine. The royal court then ruled that Wulfbald’s person and all his possession were the property of the king, and Wulfbald ignored that, too. Eventually Wulfbald died, but his wife continued to defy the rulings of the king. And I think this is strong evidence for the view that Anglo-Saxon kings struggled to enforce their authority.
What was the inspiration for The Evening and the Morning ? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The Evening and the Morning started with me asking myself what Kingsbridge was like before the cathedral was built. Kingsbridge has now appeared in three long historical novels of mine, and it has come to stand for England. When I tell stories about great dramatic events in England, such as the Black Death or the Protestant Reformation, I do so by saying what happened in Kingsbridge. So the new book takes us back to the turn of the first millennium 1000 AD. It’s called The Evening and the Morning because this period is the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Middle Ages. But the interesting thing is that around about the year 1000 people start to demand what we now call the rule of law, that is, the principle that legal cases must be decided according to the rules, and judges should not automatically decide in favour of their friends and relations.
Once I get an idea, I write an outline of the story. This is a really important part of my creative process. I spend a long time over it, six months to a year to outline a story. I get an idea in my head and I say “ok, what happened before? What happens afterwards? Who are these people? What are these people’s hopes and fears? Who do they love and who do they hate?” I ask myself all these questions and the story gets bigger and longer. It grows organically and I write it down. The first time I write this down, it’s probably three paragraphs, the second time it’s a page, the third time it’s two pages, so it grows. I want you to feel like you have to read one more page before you put the book down and never lose that feeling. You’re constantly saying “one more page” or “one more chapter” because that is the feeling I get when I’m reading a book I really like. You’ve got to have no boring bits.
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
The Evening and the Morning has four main characters. I guess the one I like the best is a young Norman princess. Her name is Ragna, and she is very feisty. Her parents want her to marry this boring French viscount but she meets a very exciting English war lord and they fall for each other. Eventually she goes to England to marry this guy and that’s when she starts to find out who he really is. I won’t tell you anymore, you’ll have to read the book. But I really like her, I think she’s great.
Ken, thanks so much for taking the time to give us your insights into The Evening and the Morning!