Interview with Peter James

Zaterdag, 18 februari, 2017

Geschreven door: Peter James
Artikel door: Roelant De By

From day one
Roy has built a team around him, who’s your favourite character and why?
Roy is my favourite character because there
is a lot of me in him and I’ll often use him as a mouthpiece for my views. But
I do have a soft spot, as do many of my readers, for Norman Potting.

When Emma-Jane
Boutwood nearly died, she was lying in hospital in a ward with old people. You
had a lot of criticism about the NHS and how things were done. I also know how
the system works in the UK and I find it appalling! What’s your comment about
that? Did you get any reaction about that?
My comments are exactly those expressed by
Roy, and yes, it got the Chief executive of the hospital contacting me asking
me if he could come and see me to show me the improvements they are making.

You describe a
lot how things work in the police force, the ranking, who’s what and what they
do. In each book you repeat it again. Is it important for you to repeat these
things? (I’m glad you do)
I think it is important because for many of
my readers it may be the first book they have read of mine. However, I am
always mindful not to repeat or patronise my series readers so we have now
added a glossary so we can use abbreviations more often.

You have
written 12 novels so far about Roy Grace. Where do you find the inspiration to
find subjects and will you write a stand-alone again in the near future?
Inspiration comes often from going out with
the police or regular talks I do in prisons talking to criminals, or even just
from newspapers.  And yes, I have a stand-alone
– Absolute Proof – which I have been working on for 23 years being published in
the UK this October, and I’m very excited about it.

‘The house on
cold hill’ is sort of a horror novel? Will there be a sequel?
Yes, I’ll be writing it in 2018.

Supposing Roy
Grace will become a TV series. You would have liked Daniel Craig to play the
role as him. Unfortunately he’s more famous as the James Bond guy. Who would
you prefer now and who would you prefer playing the role for Cleo?
Ideally for both Roy and Cleo I would like
unknown actors who are not type-cast in any other role.

I know the Brighton Police are very kind to you, giving information and
allowing you to go out on patrol with them; what is the worst experience you
had while out on patrol with them?
I have worked very hard over 25 years to
build this trust and relationship. 
I was on patrol in a rough estate with a young sergeant and a rookie
constable, a young Indian woman.  It was
10.30pm and we saw a group of youths swaggering along, defiantly swigging booze
– it’s a criminal offence to drink alcohol on the streets of Brighton and
Hove.  The officers pulled over and we
climbed out the car.  I stood, wearing fluorescent
jacket marked “Police Observer”, as they confronted them. 

Several of the gang were clearly drunk and
they became aggressive and threatened violence, and started hurling racial
taunts at the Indian woman officer.  The
sergeant radioed for backup, but that can take 20 mins to arrive on a busy
night.  As the gang advanced on the two
officers, I could see this was going to break into a fight.  I began to wonder whether to get back into
the car or run for my life… But I knew that if I was to keep any respect I had
to stand my ground and help out the two officers.  I used to box at school when I was small, so
can look after myself a bit.  The
ringleader came straight towards me, jabbed a finger at me and demanded to know
who I was.
Quick as a flash the sergeant replied:  “He’s with the FBI!” This had an instant
effect – they all backed off and turned into pussycats – meekly handing over
their drinks and their weapons!  I
realized what had happened – I had my right hand in my pocket and they must
have thought it was a gun in there!

Have you
participated in a post mortem and if so tell us your experience?
Yes, many times now. My first mortuary visit was on a horrible wet Monday morning many years
ago, and I saw three naked dead bodies laid out and stayed for their post
mortems, I had never seen a dead body before. I was deeply disturbed by the
sheer banal butchery that went on – the use of a common band saw and kitchen
knives – and the smell was utterly horrific. 
I did what many police officers do when they attend a postmortem (all of
them have to during their training) – they go green and pass out!  I had to go and sit down with a cup of tea
for a while before going back in. 
Afterwards, when I got home, I looked at my then wife, and I thought to
myself, “I know what is inside you!”  I
had to get drunk that night to get over my shock of the experience and I had
nightmares for days after.  It was
several weeks before I was able to touch my wife again, before I could stop
thinking of all those intestines and organs and viscera inside her…. But
ultimately the experience taught me respect. 
A police officer might joke during a post-mortem, but he or she takes a
murder very seriously and very personally.

We know you
have a love for cars and it struck me while reading your books you’re a car
fanatic. You do race yourself, what is it that gives you that extra buzz?
Writing is very sedentary, what I love most
about racing is that when I’m at a race circuit I don’t have one moment to
think about my book and I come home feeling totally mentally refreshed.

You’re on
Facebook, Twitter and you tube. How important is social media to you and do you
love the interaction with your fans?
Also Instagram too – where I have my account
and also one for our menagerie of animals! 
I love social media and its hugely important to me.
It can also be very useful in terms of research… For instance, a while
ago I tweeted to ask if anyone knew how to pick a lock. Someone got in touch to
say they were a career burglar who had now gone straight. He told me how he
imagined himself inside the lock when he was picking it and was able to see the
tumblers. It was something I hadn’t thought about!  I think it is important to put a lot of time
and effort into communicating with my readers, through email and social media
and try to genuinely respond to as many as possible. I’ve learned a lot from
this type of interaction and feedback over the years.  

interviewed quite a few authors, which one is your favourite interview?
Gosh that is hard to say! I love it when
authors make me laugh – such as R L Stine and John Lescroart. I think each author
has something valuable to say and I’ve learnt a lot – for instance watching the
interviews with Lee Child, Val McDermid, Jeffery Deaver and many others – and
there are lots more to come.  What I find
most interesting is that we are all in the same profession but no two authors
have the exact same way of working, I feel it is a great resource for fans, for
up and coming authors, and for established authors too.

You are patron of
several trust, services etc. You also support
The Reading
agency, a charity with a mission to give everyone an equal chance in life by
helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. How important is this
all to you?
hugely support the Reading Agency, which tries to raise the standard of literacy
in our nation.  It’s a terribly sad
statistic that the average reading age in a UK prison is currently equivalent
to that of a nine-year-old child.
give talks to help people with reading difficulties and I also give talks in
prisons every year to try to encourage literacy among prisoners.

What is it you
have with the paranormal? And how come you only used it in the first books and
not anymore in the following books ?
I’ve always been interested in this subject after
living in a very haunted house -which you can see on YouTube…

In creating Roy Grace I wanted to have a
detective who is a maverick, a free and original thinker, and who will sail
close to the wind but without doing anything that would either get him fired or
seem ridiculous to the reader. Over the many years I have been out with the
police, I have met a number of homicide detectives who have a belief – and I
think quite rightly – that they are under an obligation to explore every
possible avenue either in finding a missing person or solving a major crime. If
information comes in from a medium, who is seemingly a credible person, and all
else has failed, I genuinely think they would be negligent in their duty to not
follow this up.  I can site a number of
examples, both in the UK and USA, where the police have used psychics to great
I do plan to bring it into future Roy Grace
novels and it does feature a little in my stand alone Absolute Proof.

You have won a
lot of notable awards. Does this give you the satisfaction to keep on writing? Which
one is the most precious?
I’m immensely proud of every single award
I’ve been lucky enough to win. Among the ones that mean the most to me are the
WH Smith publically voted Greatest Crime Writer Of All Time, The Sussex Police
Outstanding Service Award and the CWA Diamond Dagger Award For Sustained Excellence.
Absolutely it gives me satisfaction and motivation to keep on writing, to be
given awards by your peers and to be publically voted are massive incentives to
keep writing!

You have so
much experience with police work and forensics etc.… If you weren’t a writer
would you have loved a job within the police force?
Knowing what I know now about policing, I
think that, if I could start again, I would seriously consider becoming a
detective, although I don’t think I would be brave enough.  Almost every police officer I’ve ever met at
some point in his or her career has had their life on the line.

We know your
beloved friend and agent
Carole Blake died
recently, herewith we want to offer you our deepest condolences
Thank you – the relationship between and author and their agent always
is more than just a business arrangement – it becomes personal, and she was one
of my very best and closest friends and I miss her a lot, although I sense she
is up there keeping a watch.

Thank you very much for
this interview, much appreciated!!!
It’s a pleasure.

Lots of Love,
Nancy De Brucker

Here are all Peter’s links: 

Peter James TV YouTube channel:

Eerder verschenen op Perfecte Buren.


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