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On writing about Thomas Cromwell - and success

12 May 2014

‘I think as you get older you realise you will die with projects unfinished. I have long been conscious about the fact that when you have the idea for a story that does not mean you are ready to write it. I wanted to write the Thomas Cromwell books right at the beginning of my career as a writer. He was not ready to come out into the light and I wasn't ready for him.

I never expected it (success) but it gave me great pleasure though because I saw it as a continuation of what I had been doing. Right from the first page, the first paragraph, it was like: "Ah! Now you see everything you have done was aiming at this." I think this project is the thing I could have done that nobody else could have done, if that doesn't sound too boastful.'

Hilary Mantel, two-time Booker Prize winner and author of Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies in the Observer