Books: Warm Jumper; after the Horse Whisperer, Evans Delivers a Bestseller about a Parachuting Fireman: THE SMOKE JUMPER Nicholas Evans Corgi, Pounds 6.99
Byline: HENRY SUTTON
WITH just three novels, Nicholas Evans has established himself as one of the planet's most popular authors.
His first, The Horse Whisperer, has sold 16million copies worldwide.
Unashamedly traditional in his use of strong plots which hinge around passionate love stories, the British writer also manages to pick some pretty wacky occupations for his characters.
The Smoke Jumper, out in paperback this week and set to become an instant bestseller, features a parachuting fireman. In an exclusive interview, the novelist told me how he came upon the idea.
He was in Montana, tracking a pack of wolves as part of his research for his last novel, The Loop, when he spotted a road sign saying simply 'Smoke jumpers'. "I was so intrigued that I nearly drove into the back of a police car," he says.
The cop stopped him for dangerous driving, but went on to explain that smoke jumpers are firefighters who are parachuted in to put out forest fires that are too remote to get to quickly enough by land.
Evans says: "I immediately thought what a great hero it would make for a story - although the book I eventually wrote isn't a firefighting novel. It's about two good friends who love the same woman and about the terrible choices all three are forced to make."
Evans spent several weeks with smoke jumpers, though he didn't bale out of a plane himself.
Part of the action is set in Africa, as the main character, Connor, becomes a war photographer. Evans drew on his experiences of having once lived there and was also advised by a number of war reporter friends.
With plenty of very filmic imagery in the story, Evans says a top producer has just made a serious offer for the film rights, and discussions are ongoing.
He has mixed feelings about how Robert Redford handled The Horse Whisperer. …