Ken Follett and the Triumph of Suspense

A Popular Writer Transcends Genres


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About the Book

Ken Follett wrote his first international bestseller, Eye of the Needle, when he was 25 years old. He has since been one of the most consistent international best-selling authors, with approximately 130 million copies of his books sold worldwide. His manifold influences on the thriller genre includes the pioneering use of strong female characters in espionage stories and the development of the historical thriller as a new form of novel, exemplified by Winter of the World (2012).
This book is an investigation of Follett’s development as an author, and of the craft of writing and the negotiation of serious versus popular literary value, from his earliest short stories and screenplays through his mature thrillers and entertainment fiction. Unpublished materials are also considered, including his notes, business and personal correspondence, unpublished drafts, journal entries and outlines. Follett’s dramatic shift to writing historical fiction may be his most enduring legacy.

About the Author(s)

Carlos Ramet is the executive assistant to the president/executive director of public affairs and professor of English and creative writing at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. He is the author of fifteen published short stories and numerous scholarly articles on the craft of fiction, genre writers and Ken Follett as contemporary novelist. He lives in Saginaw.

Bibliographic Details

Carlos Ramet
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 208
Bibliographic Info: 23 photos, filmography, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9598-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1816-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Preface 1
Chronology 4
Introduction 6
1. Following a Successful Formula: Whiteout as Case Study 17
2. The Scribbler’s Trade: A Midnight Train to Somewhere 36
3. “A Most Remarkable Writer”: The Symon Myles Mysteries and the ­Non-Series Hero 51
4. A Foray into Film: What Those Old Scripts Can Tell Us 65
5. A Fine Kettle of Fish: Beyond First Success 81
6. A Case—or Two—in Point: The Struggle for Authorial Independence 102
7. On Wings of Eagles: Narrative Negotiation of “True Story” Fiction 118
8. Night Over Water: A Flight of Fancy 132
9. A Political Dimension: Entering the Fray 146
Conclusion 163
Filmography 179
Chapter Notes 180
Bibliography 191
Index 193

Book Reviews & Awards

“this is one of the best books I’ve ever read on the career and methods of a popular novelist”—Mystery Scene; “Ramet provides us with another way to inspect the value of Follett’s body of work and to understand the man, but also gives us a view of how books are written and how the real world shapes a writer and his fiction in general. Ramet succeeds in crafting a biography of Follett in which the writing process is examined as well via the life of a literary success story”—Popular Culture Review.