Q&A: FREDERICK FORSYTH
Frederick Forsyth, author on his latest thriller, the mistery of the Jackal and his meetings with rough characters
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.
THE FOX By Frederick Forsyth PENGUIN `399, 304 pages