Q&A: FRED­ER­ICK FORSYTH

Fred­er­ick Forsyth, au­thor on his lat­est thriller, the mis­tery of the Jackal and his meet­ings with rough char­ac­ters

India Today - - UPFRONT - — with Prosen­jit Datta

Q. Your dis­like for tech­nol­ogy is well known. What in­spired you to write The Fox—a book about hack­ers? The idea came to me a year ago when I read in the pa­per that a Bri­tish hacker was fight­ing a charge of ex­tra­di­tion from Bri­tain to Amer­ica. He had Asperger’s syn­drome. [I won­dered] what would hap­pen if you point him at the en­e­mies of the West in­stead of the al­lies of the West, and that be­gan the idea.

Q. Your most fa­mous

books—The Odessa File, The Day of the Jackal—are set dur­ing the Cold War. Do you miss the golden age of es­pi­onage?

I have dealt with a num­ber of top­ics, for ex­am­ple the as­sas­si­na­tion of Charles de Gaulle (in The Day of the Jackal), is not re­ally es­pi­onage. There was a hunt­ing down of a Nazi in The Odessa File. Co­bra and the Avenger [dealt with] the crime world be­hind co­caine.

Q. Which did you find more dan­ger­ous, re­search­ing your nov­els or work­ing as a jour­nal­ist in the world’s hotspots?

[In East Ger­many] only once was I picked up by the Stasi, the se­cret po­lice, but I have also been in the African wars back in the 1960s and met some mer­ce­nar­ies (the sub­ject of The Dogs of War). They’re pretty rough char­ac­ters as you may ex­pect.

Q. Did you ever meet Car­los the Jackal?

No, no. It was the me­dia who called this man Car­los, who was sort of a pro-Pales­tinian. I think he was a South Amer­i­can. Car­los was the me­dia nick­name for him. The real one back in the book was an in­ven­tion. So as far as I know, he never ex­isted. I don’t think any­body like him ever ex­isted.

©GILLSHAW

THE FOX By Fred­er­ick Forsyth PEN­GUIN `399, 304 pages

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