Thriller writer Ken Follett has sold 100m copies of his 31 books worldwide. His first major success was Eye of the Needle (1978).
From a Q & A at his publisher's website:
You took a risk to write The Pillars of the Earth. Were you confident it would work both critically and commercially or were you surprised when it became such a success after it was published in 1989?--Marshal Zeringue
I felt I had written a very commercial novel with a heavyweight theme, and I was hoping for a big reaction from critics and the public. The reviews were mixed and the public response was, at first, muted. The book sold about the same number of copies in the United States as my previous book, and frankly I was disappointed. But over time it became clear that Pillars was a phenomenally popular backlist title, selling at double the rate of my others. So I was surprised twice.
You’ve said that you consider Pillars to be your best book to date. Do you find that paradoxical, since you’re known primarily as a writer of thrillers and suspense novels?
It was never my ambition to become famous for a novel about a church. I’m still kind of surprised that I wrote it. Of course, it’s not really about a church; it’s about a group of people who set out to do something that seems almost impossible.
Did you know as you were completing Pillars that there would be a sequel?
Pillars was the first book that truly exhausted...[read on]