Jeffrey Archer thinks the British press have - finally - given up skewering him.

Even better, they may have capped their poison pens and admitted that maybe, after 15 novels, a clutch of short stories, three plays and, of course, his prison diaries, Archer can write.

"The last three years," remarks Archer of his critics, "they've been wonderful."

He reels off the approved reviews: "The Washington Post compared me to [French writer Alexandre] Dumas, the Times said 'we must now admit that Kane and Abel is a modern classic'.

"The early books, well I was dismissed as a story teller, but no longer, thank heavens".

The British writer gifted his knockers plenty of shot to spray at him over half a century of public life. His own career could reside in the paragraphs of one of the early novels: politician, charity fundraiser, policeman, soldier, playwright, actor, sprinter, adulterer, chancer, liar, convict.

His written work was routinely trashed and reviewers questioned whether Archer penned the prose, or a spirit of ghostwriters did the work. The author responds tersely: "Not one word is written by another person. Ever. I will not allow that."

The recurring pattern of his life seemed that each time he was dead and buried, up again he popped, grinning, resilient and ready for whatever trap of his own making lay around the corner. His trajectory has been one of great peaks and troughs, the deepest possibly the two years he spent as a prisoner for perjury and perverting the course of justice.

Archer asserts that those connected elements of his history - author, perjurer, peer - have run out of puff with editors, at least in his circulation area.

"It isn't happening now. I'm not saying they've got bored with it. They realise they've hacked it to death and there's not much left there."

He mentions friends who stood loyally by him, like his wife Mary, and Dame Margaret Thatcher."During my problems I can name the people who ran away and the ones who stood firm ... to my surprise and happiness, very few walked away."

For a change in a long writing career, Archer gets calls from a previously sniffy critical establishment. He thinks Paths of Glory, his 2009 account of George Mallory's doomed ascent of Everest, marked a seachange, helped by two French literary prizes for translated works.

"The Times rang and said 'how do you feel about it?' and I said 'please don't tell anyone, it may harm sales'."

In Archer's view, the penny dropped with the lit crit crew that he could actually spin a tale and could create a cliffhanger. The legion of readers knew more than the critics would admit. The Guardian and the Independent swallowed their pride, and gave him half-page reviews.

"You couldn't call Paths of Glory a potboiler or a trashy novel. You couldn't play any of those games." The Mallory book coincided with heroic efforts in the Himalayas to test the theory whether the British climber beat Edmund Hillary to the roof of the world by almost 40 years. In New Zealand, the novel - and its claim, "inspired by a true story" - got a sceptical reception from a nation protective of Hillary's achievements.

On the phone from his home in Cambridge, Archer remarked: "The New Zealand reaction was fascinating. There was no controversy on any other country on Earth."

He knew Hillary's view that once you got up, you still had to get down. As for Mallory, "We know he was capable of getting there. We don't know if he didn't get there."

Renewed interest in the rebounding Archer springs from the imminent release of his 16th novel, Only Time Will Tell.

This is the first in what the novelist promises will be the five-volume Clifton Chronicles, a family saga charting the life of Harry Clifton from 1920 until 2020.

Clifton, like Archer in real life, comes from Weston-Super-Mare, and overcomes adversity and a whole lot of other hurdles on his way to fame and fortune.

As part of publisher Macmillan's push to generate interest in their top-selling asset, Archer is making his way to New Zealand for two dinners for the Cure Kids charity and a bit of book-flogging.

Only Time Will Tell is due out next Friday. The author - who turns 71 in April - has completed a draft of volume two, and expects to have it cut and polished by September. He scoffs at the suggestion that age may count against him completing the project, given that his books take two years from start to sign-off. "I don't feel 70. Crikey, I feel about 50."

He embraces writing with regimented precision - two hours before breakfast, two before lunch, two in the afternoon and a final 120-minute session until 8pm.

By the end of the decade, he expects half of his readership will be online. Aware of the trouble facing Whitcoulls and Borders, Archer notes that "this is not good news for the booksellers".

Lord Archer is a wealthy man and a global brand. His titles are read in 60 languages, though he complains that it's all pirated copies in China and, to an extent, also in India. "They've been selling me for years but I don't get a penny," he bristles.

He does though get a penny or two from his stake in theatre productions. Each time Grease, Chicago, Dirty Dancing or The Sound of Music are staged, anywhere in the world, Archer gets a fee. Having lost a bundle down the years, the colour of money from these investments makes him happy.

And he is in demand as a charity auctioneer. He reckons he has raised millions of dollars from countless sales and is available, should anyone want to ask, to help out the battered citizens of Christchurch.

The story teller thinks he could lift southern spirits.