Monday, November 21, 2016

Bourne to Thrill

The Lecture Hall at the Sharjah International Book Fair was packed with audience who were gathered for one of the most talented and famous author in the literature world- Eric Van Lustbader. The author of 10 Bourne Identity series, The Ninja, and numerous other spy novels.

Eric Van Lustbader being interviewed 

The audience listened enthusiastically as they laughed and awed as Lustbader spoke about how he began his career, his determination, inspiration, aspiration and the dilemmas he had to face to get to where he is right now- at the top of the fiction-writing world.

He began his speech by telling the audience about a dream he had the night before. He said, “I dreamt I was sitting down to have tea and biscuits with His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Al Mohammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah and Member of The Supreme Council. I told him how impressed I was with his philosophy of reading and learning and we talked for a long time. When it was time to say goodbye he said ‘I have a gift for you’. He gave me the gift and I couldn’t remember what it was until I walked in today and realized that this Book Fair was the gift.”

Lustbader then started speaking about his friendship between Elton John and John Lennon, and his career as a music producer stating that his time with them were “one of the best” in his lifetime.

Lustbader speaking about his time with Elton John and his book career

He then moved towards the book world as talked about the birth of his first book ‘The Ninja’ and the demons he faced to get it published and accepted.

“My first book, The Ninja was denied about 15 to 18 times,” he said to the interviewer and the audience, “after getting turned down by lots of publishers my agent sent the manuscript to Mark Barty King and once he finished reading it he accepted it and gave us a HUGE amount of money…200,000 dollars. It went to being New York’s best-selling novel and stayed on the best seller list for 24 weeks”

Lustbader couldn’t believe the sum of money that he had been offered at that time. It was unthinkable and that’s was the first step where his career took off like a rocket.  At the same time another book was on the best seller list as well. The Jason Bourne book by Robert Lodlum.

It wasn’t long before Lustbader and Lodlum met each other at a party and became good friends. When Lodlum died in 2002, the executive of Lodlum’s estate met with him and asked to continue with the Bourne books where Lodlum had left off.

“But I couldn’t do it. It was Rob’s work” Lustbader said. In the end with a little persuasion he continued the Jason Bourne series from where his friend had left off and it became one of his best works till today.

Lustbader ended the session and his speech by giving advice to the young writers who wants to follow in the same genre of thriller and spy novels.

“I can’t teach you how to write. No one can teach you how to write. Two create stories you must be born with the talent. It’s not something you can learn because being able to write fiction is a work of art. If you have the talent and you love to write then that is exactly what you should do” he advised, “Don’t write it for anyone else. Write it for yourself. At the end of the day what’s inside you is the most important thing.”

Reported by Ameena J Navab