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After 10 books, Ken finally had a hit. Eye of the Needle was Ken's 11th book and his first success. Although Ken was thrilled with the best-seller, he wasn't satisfied. "The thought that crossed my mind immediately was, 'Okay, a lot of people write one great book, and am I going to be one of those people?'" he says. "I was immediately thinking, 'Now I'm concerned about the next book.'"

Hear more from Ken about his early days of writing.  Watch

Even before his breakthrough novel, Ken was toying with the idea of an adventure tale surrounding one of his personal obsessions—cathedrals. "I gave it up because, instinctively, I felt like I couldn't do it. It was too ambitious," Ken says.

Still, Ken couldn't shake the idea. "It just kept building up, and when I told writer friends about it they said, 'What a great idea,'" Ken says. "Publishers weren't so keen. They said, 'Ken, you've had a lot of success with Nazis and secret agents and spies. And now this is a book…it's set in the Middle Ages, right Ken? And it's about building a church. Are you sure?'"


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