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I resurrected it in January of , having finished my sixth thriller, Lie Down with Lions. My publishers were nervous. They wanted another spy story. My friends were also apprehensive. They know that I enjoy success. I'm not the kind of writer who would deal with a failure by saying that the book was good but the readers were inadequate. A failure would make me miserable.

No one tried to talk me out of it, but lots of people expressed anxious reservations. I would write an adventure story, full of colourful characters who were ambitious, wicked, sexy, heroic and smart. I wanted ordinary readers to be as enraptured as I was by the romance of the medieval cathedrals. By then I had developed the method of working that I continue to use to this day. I begin by writing an outline of the story, saying what happens in each chapter and giving thumbnail sketches of the characters. But this book was not like my others.

Fire on Earth: An Introduction

The beginning came easily but, as the story unwound over the decades, and the people grew from youth to maturity, I found it more and more difficult to invent new twists and turns in their lives. I realized that one long book is much more of a challenge than three short ones. The hero of the story had to be some kind of man of God. This was difficult for me.

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I would find it hard to get interested in a character who was focused on the afterlife and so would many readers. All monks and priests were supposed to be celibate in the Middle Ages. The obvious drama would be that of a man fighting a terrible battle with his lusts. But I could not work up any enthusiasm for that theme. I grew up in the s, and my heart is always with those who deal with temptation by giving in to it.

In the end I made him one of that minority of people for whom sex really is no big deal.

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He is the only cheerfully celibate character I have ever created. I got in contact with Jean Gimpel, who had inspired me a decade earlier, and was astonished to learn that not only did he live in London but in my street. I hired him as a consultant, and we became friends and table-tennis opponents until his death. By March of the following year, , I had outlined only the first two-thirds of the book. I decided that would have to be sufficient. I began to write. This was pretty disastrous.

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I had been working on the story for two years, and all I had was an incomplete outline and a few chapters. But what was to be done? Well, I could drop it and write another thriller. Or I could work harder. In those days I used to write Monday to Friday, then deal with my business correspondence on Saturday morning. My output increased dramatically, partly because of the extra day, but mainly because of the intensity I was bringing to my work. The problem of the end of the book, which I had not outlined, was solved by a flash of inspiration, when I thought of involving the principal characters in the notorious real-life murder of Thomas Becket.

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As I recall, I finished a first draft around the middle of that year. A combination of excitement and impatience impelled me to work even harder on the rewrite, and I began to work seven days a week. My business correspondence was neglected, but I finished the book in March , three years and three months after starting it.

I was exhausted but happy. I felt I had written something special, not just another best-seller but maybe a great popular novel. My London publishers were more excited, and Pillars sold better there than any of my previous books. But the initial reaction, among publishers worldwide, was a sigh of relief that Follett had completed his crazy project and got away with it. The book won no prizes — it was not even nominated. A few critics adored it, but most were unimpressed.

It was a No. The paperback was No. I began to think I had been wrong. Maybe the book was just another page-tumer, good but not great. However, one person believed passionately that this book was special. He had even spoken to some of his German authors about the idea, but nothing ever came of it. So he was very excited about what I was writing, and when the typescript came in he felt his hopes had been fulfilled.

Until this point, my work had been only modestly successful in Germany. The villains in my books were often Germans, so I could hardly complain. Fritzsche was so enthusiastic, he thought Pillars could be a breakthrough book, one that would make me the single most popular writer in Germany. Chinese for Teens. Chinese Learning Methods. Chinese Learning Tools. Chinese Learning Video Lessons. Beginner Level. Intermediate Level. Advanced Level. If so, please complete the form below:.

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    Email This Article. Recipients' email addresses: separate recipients with comma. Slated to open in , the Thom Mayne-designed building has been more than a decade coming. But it looks worth the wait. Suppressed for over a century, indigenous cultural burning is still practiced today and holds important lessons for managing the threat of destructive wildfires. Watch Now. They have secured traditional fishing rights and mobilized against the threats of dams and agriculture, setting an example for Native environmental rights. Despite barriers to access, traditional gathering and basket weaving is still practiced across California as a new generation is rediscovering and preserving its cultural heritage.

    The Chia Cafe Collective is working to revive Native food practices and raise awareness about the threats to native plants in Southern California. Native herbalism has a long history and continues to be practiced today. This video explores a holistic approach to health and how the environment can inform healthy living. Story continues below. Bedrock mortars at Dinkey Creek. The existence of these and many other mortars demonstrates long-term Indigenous residence in a productive landscape.

    Keep Reading. Architecture and Design. Full Episodes Browse. Discussion How can we address California's increasingly devastating wildfires? Learn More About This Discussion.