Alexander McCall Smith reveals he can write up to 4,000 words a day


ALEXANDER McCall Smith has revealed he can write up to 4,000 words a day – when he is working at “full tilt”.

The author, most famous for his bestseller The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is widely regarded as one of the top writers of fiction.

The 67-year-old, who lives in Edinburgh, has published six books this year alone.

And that may be down to his incredible writing speed.

He told a magazine: “I’ll write 3,000 to 4,000 words in a day. It just comes to me.

The author says he can write up to 4,000 words a day
The author says he can write thousands of words a day


“I break the rules: you’re only supposed to write one book a year or every two years.”

He said he loved reading so much as a child that he slept with his first book – The Boys’ Book of Merchant Shipping – underneath his pillow.

“It was full of pictures of ships with their tonnage,” he explained.

“It must have been the most boring book imaginable, but I loved it to pieces.”

McCall Smith, who is an Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, also spoke about growing up abroad.

He said: “Growing up in Zimbabwe was a great adventure, but I didn’t see it as such.

“I spent my entire childhood in Africa. I couldn’t have written The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books, which are set in Botswana, without the affection that gave me.”

The book itself has sold over 30 million copies and been published in 46 languages across the world.

McCall Smith also revealed some of his favourite books, including Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and The Conservationist by Nadine Gordimer.

He described The Famous Five series as “wonderful” and says that he always travels with a copy of Collected Shorter Poems by W.H.Auden in his suitcase.