Ken Follett’s favourite photograph | Books | Entertainment

Ken Follett’s favourite photograph | Books | Entertainment


“HERE you see me playing bass guitar with my late son Emanuele onstage at the 2011 Anteprime Festival in
Italy. It’s a celebration of literature, but they decided it would be fun to have my band, Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues, play. A stage was built in the square and hundreds of people filled the space, watching and dancing. It was a big thrill and we played quite well, too. It’s fun to play music with the people you love. 

When you’re in a band with people you get very close to them. The concentration is intense and you get deeply involved. That’s part of the fun. Rock ’n’ roll is exhilarating. You play with enthusiasm because you’re enjoying the tune. It’s a happy thing to do.

I taught my son and my little brother to play the guitar and in both cases, in an embarrassingly short time, they were better than me. My brother is now in his sixties and he teaches guitar. They both went far beyond me in ability, but that’s OK. 

When your son becomes an adult you want to do something with him that you’re not best at. As a man, you don’t want your father constantly telling you what to do. We became equal collaborators, which is what you want to be with a grown-up child. When we started playing together we knew each other’s weaknesses and strengths. We brought a certain togetherness to that band.

When your son becomes an adult you want to do something with him that you’re not best at. As a man, you don’t want your father constantly telling you what to do. We became equal collaborators, which is what you want to be with a grown-up child. When we started playing together we knew each other’s weaknesses and strengths. We brought a certain togetherness to that band.

My son passed away two years ago, after a short battle with leukaemia. The band split afterwards. I didn’t feel like I could continue with it and the others completely understood.

Those memories are happy. The band meant that the two of us spent a lot of time together during Emanuele’s adult life. We played almost every Monday night in a rehearsal studio for something like 25 years. 

I nicknamed my son Sunshine. Nobody in England knows how to pronounce Emanuele. We didn’t give him a middle name, like Bill, which we jolly well should have. But, born in 1968, he could have easily been named Purple Neon Rainbow or something. 

Emanuele was sunshine in my life. I delighted in his progress and when he developed and learned things I was astonished by his ability. I would wonder at how clever he was, even though I knew it was something that every other child did at that age. He made me laugh and he was a lovely guitar player. 

Emanuele read my books sometimes and gave me good notes when he did. We shared a love of reading, particularly fiction. Being of the next generation his tastes weren’t quite the same as mine, but we both loved Ed McBain, for example, who wrote the 87th Precinct novels. He made some attempts at writing himself but did not have any success before he died. If he’d lived, who knows, he might’ve produced something that would have been successful. Emanuele was very interested in the whole process and that was something we were able to share.

My new novel The Evening And The Morning begins at the end of the Dark Ages and the beginning of the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, people began to rebuild European culture. It’d all been lost after the Roman Empire collapsed. The Dark Ages were a rather primitive time, and it started to get better. 

This novel is the prequel to The Pillars Of The Earth, released in 1989. That one took me just over three years to write. This was a bit quicker, at two and a half years. It’s a very extensive process partly because the books are long, but also because this is popular fiction and our readers want a story that keeps moving. You’ve got to make the reader want to turn the page.

Here I am sitting at my desk in Knebworth, but actually I am somewhere else in my imagination. I always have lived a lot in my imagination. As a child I was always a cowboy or a spaceship captain. I had these fantasies and daydreams and my work is an elaborate extension of the same sort of process.” 

Ken Follett’s The Evening And The Morning is out now (£25, Macmillan). See Express Bookshop on page 69.





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