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'I was a newspaperwoman all my life'
Strong women lead her tales
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Monday, March 15, 1999 3:43:06 PM
(CNN) -- It was 20 years ago that British-born writer Barbara Taylor Bradford burst onto the popular literary scene with her first novel, "A Woman of Substance". Since then she's written one bestseller after another, many of which have been made into movies and miniseries. "A Sudden Change of Heart" is her 15th novel, and currently is high on the New York Times Bestsellers list. CNN Sunday Morning anchor Catherine Callaway recently spoke with her.
CALLAWAY: Let's talk about "A Sudden Change of Heart". Your stories always involve strong women, and this one is certainly no exception, but it's set up against the art world.
BRADFORD: Yes, it is.
CALLAWAY: Can you tell us about it?
BRADFORD: I fell upon a story about 2 1/2 years ago about art, looted by the Nazis, hanging on the walls of the Louvre and other European museums. And I kept the story, because, having always been a newspaperwoman, I thought maybe I can use this somewhere sometime in a book; also because it related to another book of mine called "The Women in His Life," which came out in 1990.
And then when I started to create the character of Laura Valiant in "A Sudden Change of Heart," I made her an art expert, an art consultant, and so I was able to weave into the story the whole idea of the art which was looted during World War II.
CALLAWAY: And you always weave in current events into your stories. That takes a tremendous amount of research for you, doesn't it?
BRADFORD: Well, it does. But, you know, I was a newspaperwoman all my life, so I guess things that I see and hear on television or read about tend to capture my imagination. I like to weave them into the stories, because they give an immediacy, a current affairs feeling, in a sense, to my books.
CALLAWAY: When you describe a scene, say, a view from a hotel window, it is as if you've been there. Do you try to do that? Do you often try to travel to the places that you write about?
BRADFORD: Yes, I do. But, you know, I didn't go to Tianamen Square. I wasn't in Tianamen Square when I was writing that book "Remember". (That book) I had to research in great detail and speak to a lot of journalists about that.
CALLAWAY: Are you a workaholic? I understand you get up before dawn and write all day.
BRADFORD: Well, I get up before dawn when I'm writing a book or being on television, but not every day of the week if I'm not writing.
But I have worked on evening newspapers all my life, you see, so I had to be in very early, and I'm used to it. I like to start working at 6:00 or 5:30, and stop 4:00 or 5:00. I like the evening free, to be with my husband.
CALLAWAY: And also you write on a typewriter, is this true? You don't use a computer?
BRADFORD: I do.
CALLAWAY: And also -- and do you use a pen and pad, as well?
BRADFORD: I do use a pen and pad, and I use a typewriter, but a very high-powered, modern IBM typewriter.
I have been convinced to buy a computer, which I'm going to go and choose this coming week, to do research. And hopefully I'll be able to write on it eventually.
CALLAWAY: The 20th anniversary of "A Woman of Substance" (is here) -- can you believe it?
BRADFORD: It doesn't seem like 20 years. Those 20 years have gone very quickly. Mind you, I've been busy with my books.
CALLAWAY: And, you know, you always have love stories in your books, but you have lived one. You've been married to the same man for 35 years.
BRADFORD: Yes, I have. We just had, last year, our 35th wedding anniversary, so 36 is coming up.
CALLAWAY: And he's producing your miniseries and your movies?
BRADFORD: Yes. He was always been a movie producer, but he started to do television ... to make my books, and it's worked very well. He does well by me, you know, which is more than a lot of authors can say about their work being turned into movies or television series.
CALLAWAY: A lot of people have been reading your books one right after another, but their favorite is "A Woman of Substance." The characters in that one; shall we see them again?
BRADFORD: I wrote two sequels to "A Woman of Substance" some time ago. And you're always stuck with what went before when you write yet another sequel.
Bob, my husband, says there's a story in some missing years in Emma's life. And he said, "You should do that and call it, you know, 'Woman of Substance II,'" and I said, "I don't know about that."
CALLAWAY: What are you reading right now?
BRADFORD: I just bought a few books when I was on the road. One of them is "Memoirs of a Geisha," which has now come out in paperback. I'm looking forward to reading that.
CALLAWAY: Anything else?
BRADFORD: No, not at the moment, because I've just been traveling constantly to promote "A Sudden Change of Heart."
CALLAWAY: We look forward to reading "A Sudden Change of Heart." Barbara Taylor Bradford, thank you very much for joining us this morning.
BRADFORD: Thank you.