Most people find politics boring – which is why I turned to crime fiction, Bill Clinton tells BBC Radio 4’s Today. In 2018 the former president teamed up with crime novelist James Patterson to write a thriller called The President Is Missing. Now there’s a sequel, The President’s Daughter, about an American president on a mission to save his kidnapped daughter.
Was it inspired by true events? No, says Clinton. And if it was, I wouldn’t say. Besides, real life is sometimes too far-fetched for fiction – look at the storming of the Capitol in January. But enough of politics: Clinton says he has stayed firmly out of it since leaving office. “Believe it or not, for 20 years I don’t think I have placed a single call to a president. They’re busy! When you’re out of office, you gotta stay out.” That’s another benefit of being a writer: “They don’t force you to retire.”
Clinton has a literary rival, though – his wife, Hillary, has co-written a crime novel with Louise Penny, due out this autumn. “We’re scared to death,” he says. “This is highly competitive.” If only he could team up with another politician for a third thriller. Putin would be good, he suggests: the Russian president “lives in a thriller.” But his dream writing partner would be Winston Churchill. “I think we could have had a lot of fun.”
Listen to the interview here, from 2:22:55.