Jeffrey is a former politician, life peer and best-selling novelist. Bolder met him at his London penthouse.
“I didn’t start writing until I was about 38 years old. I had to leave the House of Commons facing bankruptcy and it’s not easy to get a job after something like that. So I sat down and wrote my first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, based on the experience of how I’d lost my money. I’ve now been writing for over 40 years. I didn’t know I’d be any good at it, in fact, the first 17 publishers I went to turned the book down. Finally, Jonathan Cape printed 3000 copies and gave me £3000. I was in £440,000 of debt at the time, so my wife thought perhaps I should look for a real job, but I persevered. I’ve now sold about 270m copies.
I haven’t needed the money since I wrote Kane and Abel, but I enjoy the thrill of being number one. I love it. I wouldn’t be doing it at 80 if I didn’t. My best piece of advice to aspiring writers is never to hand in the first draft. You’ve got to go on working and working – on my current draft I am changing just three or four words a page so I know I am getting there. I love the whole process and the older I get the more I enjoy having something to get up for every day.