Interview with Barbara Taylor Bradford

PUBLISHED: 08:33 19 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:58 20 February 2013

Interview with Barbara Taylor Bradford

Interview with Barbara Taylor Bradford

One of the most successful and wealthy writers alive today made a rare visit to the UK in October and spoke to Tessa Harris at The Compleat Angler in Marlow

A Woman of Substance became one of the most successful mini-series of all time. Now 26 books and 82 million copies later, she Barbara shows she is still at the top of the game with her latest book Playing the Game. Barbaras signature scenario of luxury, wealth and romance are readily seen in her latest novel which reveals a deadly scandal that threatens to destroy the lives of fabulously successful art dealer Annette Remmington and her husband and manager Marius.

Born in Upper Armley, Leeds, in Yorkshire, Barbara was the only child of Winston and Freda Taylor. Her mother was a former children's nurse and nanny -- and a voracious reader who introduced Barbara to books at the tender age of 4. By the time she was 12, she had read all of Dickens and the Brontes.

After school Barbara started work as a typist for the Yorkshire Evening Post. She was 15 1/2. Within six months she was promoted to cub reporter in the newsroom. "It was because I was such a bad typist and was ruining so much of their expensive paper!" she joked. Nevertheless, at 18 she became the newspaper's Woman's Page Editor. At age 20 she decided to head for London, where she became Fashion Editor of the magazine Woman's Own. In the ensuing years in Fleet Street, hub of Britain's publishing empire, she covered every beat from crime to show business reporting for the London Evening News, Today Magazine and other publications. The grounding paid off. Today Barbara Taylor Bradford is published in over 90 countries in 40 languages, with sales figures in excess of 82 million.

In 1963 she married film producer Robert Bradford and has lived in America ever since.

Tessa Harris spoke with Barbara at The Compleat Angler Hotel in Marlow

Your own life reads in many ways like one of your novels: the little girl who disappointed her parents by becoming a reporter and not going onto higher education, but who found fame and fortune, a love story with an American producer. How much of yourself do you put into your heroines?

Im always getting asked that question, but really Im a novelist. I invent characters. These women arent me, although there is something of me in them. A journalist from Finland asked me the same question and wouldnt let it rest. In the end I said OK. I am Emma Harte. But it wasnt true. I am a high achiever and I always have been. Character is plot, character is destiny. We are all characters who show us the life we lead.

Playing the game is set in the art world? How much research did you do and is it something you really enjoy.

I love art and I knew a lot about it but I had to do a lot of research. I discovered that it really is an extraordinary world there is a lot of criminality, fraud, gossip. Its a world of jealousy and intrigue and they are all competing for big money.

Many of your books have been made into TV mini series: do you get involved in the script writing?

Robert produces all my series. I met him through a mutual friend. I dont get involved in the writing but Robert does ask me about who should play the main roles. Some great actors have starred like Liz Hurley, Jenny Seagrove, Anthony Hopkins, John Mills and Clare Bloom.

All your novels have very glamorous settings but I read you spend 8 hours a day, five days a week writing. Can you describe your writing day?

I work all day and I go out at night to events- theatre openings and cocktail parties but I lead a solitary life for hours every day. Im in my office for a good eight hours a day. Im not always writing. I write on an IBM typewriter. Im not a computer person. I break for a bite of lunch. I start around 6.15 and get Bob up and get his breakfast, then work until the evening. I never go out to lunch.

Youve won so many awards. Whats been your most memorable career highlight?

That would have to be in June 2007 when I was awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire) by the Queen at Buckingham Palace. I couldnt believe how small she is, but she is wonderful.

What are you working on next?

Robert is hoping to make a movie of Playing the Game and Ive got ideas for my next two novels. I always get an idea for a new book when Im writing another one.


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