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Robert Lacey is a British historian noted for his original research, which gets him close to - and often living alongside - his subjects. He is the author of numerous[…]

Robert Lacey explains why aspiring journalists should follow their passion and ignore naysayers.

Question: What advice do you have for someone who wants to succeed as a writer?

Robert Lacey: The advice I would give to anybody who wanted to go into my line of work is follow your passion and while it’s always good to take advice from other people don’t get discouraged when the advice somehow doesn’t jive with something inside you. To be specific about this, some of my most successful books have been… I’m not just… I’m not just talking commercially successful, but emotionally and meaningfully successful, have been hunches I’ve had. When I first got interested in the 1970’s about writing about the British Monarchy people laughed. They said, “You’re crazy.” “Why does the monarchy matter?” I couldn’t find a publisher for the book. They said, “Well, the Monarchy, the queen, that’s for women’s magazines.” “You can’t write anything serious about the Monarchy.” But I did. It’s given me an enormous perspective on life. I now look on the American presidency as a monarchy. That’s what it really is. The American presidency is the most powerful monarchy in the world and that’s why you have these dynasties in America of Clinton or Bush. America has got its royal families like we have and it explains the sort of intangible elements in our thinking that make us work and make us tick. Saudi Arabia, I couldn’t find a publisher for this book for two years. I had to dig into my savings and write it, what I believed and then—if you write it they will come; believe in yourself.

Recorded on:  October 20, 2009