Oct 12, 2011

Those in Peril by Wilbur Smith

Another bestseller from one of the world's most loved storytellers.

Product Details:
Publisher: MACMILLAN
ISBN: 9780230529267
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 400

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Product Description:
Hazel Bannock is the heir to the Bannock Oil Corp, one of the major oil producers with global reach. While cruising in the Indian Ocean, Hazel's private yacht is hijacked by African pirates. Hazel is not on board at the time, but her nineteen year old daughter, Cayla, is kidnapped and held to ransom.
The pirates demand a crippling twenty billion dollar ransom for her release. Complicated political and diplomatic considerations render the civilized major powers incapable of intervening. When Hazel is given evidence of the horrific torture which Cayla is being subjected to, she calls on Hector Cross to help her rescue her daughter. Hector is the owner and operator of Cross Bow Security, the company which is contracted to Bannock Oil to provide all their security. He is a formidable fighting man. Between them Hazel and Hector are determined to take the law into their own hands.

Wilbur Smith in his own words.
Compiled by Heather Walker

Wilbur Smith is one of South Africa’s most successful authors – a global No 1 bestseller who has now sold 120 million books worldwide. On the phone from his home in London (he lives between here and Cape Town), Smith told Heather Walker about his 33rd and latest novel, Indian Ocean pirate thriller Those in Peril, and his writing career.

Your first book was never actually published – what lessons did you learn from that experience?

I learnt a lot about writing, it certainly put me on the right track; I wasn’t writing books for other people, I was writing them for myself. After the success of my first published novel in 1964 I was wondering, what on earth am I going to write now? My publisher at the time, Charles Pick said ‘No one should ever tell you what you are going to write, you should tell us what you’re going to write’.

What motivates you to keep writing?

Yesterday a taxi driver said “I know you, you’re Wilbur Smith. Are you still writing?” I replied, “I’m still breathing aren’t I?” It’s what I do, I write books, it’s my life.

There was a time when I wrote a book every year, now I’m slowing down a bit, in future I may write a book every third year. It’s no longer some kind of mission I’m on, just what keeps me going, keeps me interested in life.

Do you have a favourite book you have written?

My books are like my children. Some are uglier than others, but like a father I love them all equally.

Most of your stories are set in on old colonial Africa, what do you think it is about this time and place that your readers like so much?

‘Well it was the time I lived through and one of the finest times of my life, not a care in the world. It was a significant time for Africa and I believe the British experience in Africa was a benevolent one; I think when they pulled out of Africa they left it in a finer place than they found it. I am nostalgic about the past and about the Africa I knew, that has changed or gone completely.

Your books must have made many readers want to visit Africa…

At an event yesterday, afterwards someone came up to me and said “I haven’t actually been to Africa but I have because you took me there”.

You must have seen a lot of technological change through your career; presumably you started with a typewriter…

‘When I started writing we corresponded through letter or telegram, to receive a telegram was a big occasion. Nowadays email is almost too glib, people don’t use good grammar anymore, but I know it has to happen, it is the nature of man to move and to change, we always try to improve things.’

Kindles for example, they’re alien to my way of thinking. Books to me were always mystical and sacred things. You can’t put a Kindle on your bookshelf.

How did you come up with the characters in Those in Peril?

I always have a great chorus of characters waiting in the wings.

Those in Peril has some very sexual and violent scenes. Is it your intention to shock people?

Look, people are interested in sex, I’m interested in sex. Someone once told me that all of my sex scenes were old fashioned and I said, well sex is an old fashioned activity! Adam and Eve were at it like rabbits! It’s a part of life and I think every story should have relationships in them.

Some people have criticised your books for being racist or sexist, what would you say to them?

I would say, that is the way the world works. If you see that in my books then you see something that is not there.

I guess people will read what they want to read?


Everyone seems to claim some connection with Wilbur Smith…

‘It’s amazing how many friends I’ve got that I’ve never met! It’s quite flattering; it’s nice that people like me.

People obviously want to know you…

I was flying from America to UK with a proofed copy of my book to read on the plane, and the chap across the aisle from me said, “Excuse me, I see you’re reading Wilbur Smith?” And I said, “Yes, I read all his books… I love Wilbur Smith.” He replied, “I’m glad to hear that as he’s one of my closest friends, I’ll tell you what, if you give me a card, next time I see Wilbur I’ll get him to sign a book for you.”

So he never realised who you were?

No, he didn’t at all!’

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