The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Forsyth back on thriller trail

London, Sept. 2 (Reuters): After a seven-year break, British author Frederick Forsyth is back on the thriller trail with a vengeance — and the adrenaline is pumping for the Godfather of Faction.

“When I get stuck in, it takes me over,” the 65-year-old author said of Avenger, a tautly-written tale of international terrorism with a September 11 twist in the tail.

With sales of his thrillers topping 70 million, Forsyth’s prime motivation now is finding a storyline that clicks for him.

Avenger did just that, offering a chance to travel the world for six months from Central America to the Gulf and Bosnia to fine-tune his research.

It tells the story of an idealistic young American murdered by a Serbian warlord in Bosnia. His billionaire grandfather is bent on revenge. In steps The Avenger, Vietnam veteran Cal Dexter.

Long gone are the days of Cold War thrillers. “Weapons of mass destruction and fundamentalist-based terrorism will be with us for the rest of our lives,” he said in an interview marking the publication of Avenger.

For Forsyth, former Royal Air Force pilot, Reuters correspondent and BBC war reporter, the leap into the big time came with his first thriller The Day of the Jackal in 1971.

It told of an assassination attempt on France’s President Charles de Gaulle. Forsyth was hailed for launching a new genre — faction.

“Six real people came into the story and I was genuinely surprised when the media said what a fantastic breakthrough — real people appearing in a fictional story.”

Five Forsyth thrillers have been made into films and he said: “The Jackal was the best of them all. Director Fred Zinnemann did a terrific job. It is still popular 30 years later.”

Forsyth has recently made headlines for his trenchant political views.

He calls himself a “centre-right traditionalist.” Critics dismiss him as a curmudgeonly eccentric.

He joined the Conservative Party after they crashed to defeat in the 1997 election to Tony Blair’s Labour Party.

Forsyth, using newspapers and radio programmes as his platform, certainly does not hide his contempt for Blair.

“The man is shallow and a phoney. He is as devious as a wagonload of monkeys,” Forsyth says of the Prime Minister whose trust ratings have plummeted over his handling of the Iraq war.

But on that Forsyth was with him. Like Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, the writer backed the battle to topple Saddam Hussein who he called: “The most blood-encrusted dictator since Stalin or Hitler.”

With the publicity circus now launched for Avenger, Forsyth is in no hurry to reach for his pen again.

“I’ve not got another idea there nibbling for attention. I can do a bit of journalism, charity work, run my farm, look after my family, (scuba) dive, game fish — in other words eat a bit of lotus. I am not screaming that I need an idea. Indolence is my middle name.”

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