My first novel was rejected by some of the most eminent publishers in the world. Starting again was a real wrench.

Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith

Profession: Novelist
Nationality: British

Some suggestions for you :

For the past few years my fans have made it very clear that they would like to read my novels and revisit my family of characters faster than I can write them. For them, I am willing to make a change to my working methods so the stories in my head can reach the page more frequently.

I work on my novels wherever I have a PC, and I have four or five places around the world where I do have a PC. These days you can just slip a little flash drive into your top pocket, fly for 12 hours, come to another place, plug it into a computer and you are away again.

My father was my god. His approval was so valuable to me.

People don't really know themselves until they're 30. Like most people nowadays, I went to university, got a degree and wandered for a bit. I trained to be a chartered accountant, which I didn't much enjoy, and it was only slowly that the idea of becoming a creative writer gelled.

I go on a hunting safari at least once a year to Botswana, which is fantastic because we have a huge area of wilderness entirely to ourselves. My island covers roughly 55 acres, which again I have to myself, with nearly half a kilometre of private beach with my own jetties and boats.

I'm not a prophet I can only use historical reality to come to a view of the future, and my view is that Africa will return to being African and not European. The advent of colonialism was foreign to the country itself, but it will return to what it was before the Europeans arrived.

I'm not a good father and they're not children any more; the eldest is in his fifties. My relationship with their mothers broke down and, because of what the law was, they went with their mothers and were imbued with their mothers' morality in life and they were not my people any more.

Herbert, my father, was born in Britain but went out to Africa in his teens to join his father and built up an 18,000-acre ranch in what was then Northern Rhodesia, providing work for the locals. He was my hero when I was a boy.

I think money is essential to happiness and right now I wouldn't want to be anyone other than Wilbur Smith - I've had a fantastic life, rewarded far more heavily than I deserve. Maybe I'd like to be J. K. Rowling, but I'll settle for second best.

Literature throws us many great heroes. Real life invariably outdoes them.

I don't want children. Why should I let some strange little monster into my life to destroy what to me is a perfect set-up?

The first story I ever sold was to 'Argosy' magazine, which no longer exists. That issue also contained work by several other more celebrated writers, like Ray Bradbury - so I felt I had at least one toe on the ladder.

I wanted to be a great white hunter, a prospector for gold, or a slave trader. But then, when I was eight, my parents sent me to a boarding school in South Africa. It was the equivalent of a British public school with cold showers, beatings and rotten food. But what it also had was a library full of books.

They say I'm worth either €200 million, €100 million, €50 million or €10 million, but that's something between God, the HMRC and myself.