Durban 18042012 Jeffrey Archer at the Durban Country Club with his new book The sins of the father. Picture: JACQUES NAUDE

“Do you want to be a politician (in South Africa)? Do you have four wives?” was the reply international best-selling British author Jeffrey Archer gave to a question by an aspiring politician last night.

Archer was speaking at the Durban Country Club, launching his book The Sins of the Father, the second in a five-book series on the Clifton Chronicles.

He told the aspiring politician, to huge applause, that he would get the support he needed if he was honest and focused on the country, rather than bank accounts overseas.

The charismatic 72-year-old left the 200-plus audience in stitches at times, as well as in silent admiration, as he spoke of his life and how he had reached the best-selling spot on many occasions.

Archer’s books have been published in 37 languages, in 97 countries, and he has sold more than 270 million copies.

His career as a politician ended with a conviction for perjury and perverting the course of justice. He was imprisoned from 2001 to 2003.

Archer, wearing a suit and tie, said people’s attire last night was “dismal”.

He was disappointed that there were not many young adults in the crowd, and said he would have liked to have seen more black and Indian guests.

Archer spoke of his love for cricket, of how he loathed the T20 format of the game and joked that it was easy to find the England team when they played in South Africa, as they all stayed with their parents.

Describing himself as a story-teller rather than a writer, he said putting a book together was hard work. He often had to write 14 drafts and spend up to 1 000 hours on one novel.

Although he loved the printed word, the author said technology should be embraced and his sales on the Kindle platform were “phenomenal”. “I still love to have a book in my hand,” he hastily added.

Archer said the Clifton Chronicles told the tale of Harry Clifton, from 1920 to 2020. The third book, Best Kept Secret, would be out in the middle of next year.

His first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, was turned down by 17 publishers before eventually being picked up.

His third book, Kane and Abel, proved to be his best-selling work, reaching number one on the New York Times bestsellers list.