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A. J. Quinnell
25 June 1940
Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom
|Died||10 July 2005 (aged 65)|
|Notable works||Man on Fire, The Mahdi|
A. J. Quinnell was the pen name of the English thriller novelist Philip Nicholson. He is best known for his novel Man on Fire, which has been adapted to film twice, most recently in 2004 featuring Denzel Washington.
Nicholson traveled throughout his life and several of the minor characters in his books are based on real people that he encountered in his travels. Nicholson was married three times; his last wife, Elsebeth Egholm, is a Danish mystery novelist. The couple maintained residences on the island of Gozo and in Denmark.
When the author was preparing to publish his first book, Man on Fire, he wanted to keep his real identity a secret. During a conversation in a bar, his agent, Chris Little, told him he could use a pseudonym. The author chose "Quinnell" after rugby union player Derek Quinnell and "A. J." from the initials of the bartender's son. Nicholson frequented Gleneagles bar in M?arr, Gozo, the town where the Malta ferry disembarks. He could often be found drinking vodkas with soda. He wrote late at night and through until the morning, always standing up. He also sponsored a local Gozo soccer team and was admired by the Gozitans.
The author's best-known creation was the character of Marcus Creasy, an American-born former member of the French Foreign Legion. The Creasy novels are cult favorites in Japan.
Man on Fire was directly adapted to film twice, in 1987 and 2004, and the 2004 film was adapted into a 2005 Bollywood film. This has resulted in a wider demand for Quinnell's books, especially those featuring Creasy (see Bibliography below).