Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Peter James. 69
Fiona: Where are you from?
I was born in Brighton in the South of England.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I was educated at Charterhouse, then film school. I have written over 30 books, am published in 37 languages, with world sales of 20 million and have had 12 consecutive Sunday Times bestsellers. I live with my wife, Lara and our menagerie of animals including 3 dogs, 5 alpacas and 3 emus.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I have 2 books being published this year. May 17th DEAD IF YOU DON’T – the 14th novel in my Roy Grace crime thriller series and October 4th ABSOLUTE PROOF – a novel I have been working on since 1989, a thriller set around the topic of what would happen if somebody credible claimed to have proof of God’s existence.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have been writing since I was 7 years old. I loved to notice things and to write my observations down.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was commissioned to write some of the early episodes of the children’s television series Polka Dot Door whilst I was living in Toronto back in 1971.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It was an article I read in The Times newspaper saying there was a shortage of spy thrillers after Ian Fleming had died and I decided that I would have a go!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I came across it in a documentary about the cold war – Russian spies. It was called DEAD LETTER DROP.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
My writing style is to write the way I like to read which is short chapters. For me the most important aspect is to make my books authentic which means research, research, research.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Almost all of my books are inspired by true life experiences. I am a great believer in that old adage of truth being stranger than fiction.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Both, I travel before and then once I start writing, and realise what else I need to learn about. For me research is an ongoing process as much as the actual writing of the book itself.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher but I get approval rights.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I write crime thrillers because although I want to write entertaining novels I also want, through my writing, to examine the world in which we live and why people do the things they do and I choose to do this through the eyes of my central police character as I don’t think anyone sees more of human life in a 30 year career than a cop.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
I am always looking for new authors whose work will grip me and inspire me – I very much like the French author Pierre Le Maitre as one example of just this.
My favourite ever author is Graham Greene, it was his novel Brighton Rock that made me want to be a writer, I also enjoy Linwood Barclay and Michael Connelly.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
It was my late New York agent, Kurt Hellmer who took me on when I was 19 and encouraged me relentlessly. Sadly, he died before my first novel was published.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No I wouldn’t – I am really happy with everything about both my latest books and they have been through many stages of edits. ‘Absolute Proof’ which is coming out on Oct 4th is both my most ambitious book to date and the one I am most excited about of everything I have ever written.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes, for DEAD IF YOU DON’T I learnt a lot about the Albanian community and about compulsive gamblers as my central character is a compulsive gambler. For ABSOLUTE PROOF I have learnt a huge amount about many of the worlds different religions and faiths.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
My Roy Grace series is currently in development for television and there are a number of actors I can see playing the role well, one of them is Dominic West.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Read. Read. Read. Read books that have done well in the genre you want to write in.But also structure is important. Know your ending before you start writing. You wouldn’t just get into a car and drive without knowing where you’re going. Know your most important plot points. This does not mean that things won’t change, but you will never get stuck. Once you start writing a book, make time to write every single day. Find a comfortable number of words for you to write each day and stick to that number. I am comfortable with 1000 words. Love your characters.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Thank you for reading and I always love to hear from you by either email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and if you are not yet looking at my YouTube channel you may find it interesting and fun!
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m currently reading 7 books which are shortlisted for a big literary prize that I have been asked to judge – the ‘WH Smith Thumping Good Read Award’ but I’m not allowed to say what they are!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was Enid Blyton’s Five Go To Treasure Island which I read when I was about 6. I wrote to Enid Blyton and said 5 of them had spent 7 days on this island and not one of them had gone to the toilet in all that time and I was very worried. She wrote me a nice reply saying that they had all gone to the toilet but she didn’t think little boys and girls were interested so she had left those bits out!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Lots makes me laugh, most of all I love to be with my wife and friends and have a few bottles of wine. That’s when I laugh the most.
As for crying….any mal-treatment of animals, and the sheer stupidity of so many politician’s who could make the world a better place but instead screw it up even more.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I’d love to have met Graham Greene because he regularly played Russian Roulette with a revolver and I’d be fascinated to ask him why and how he felt in those moments before he pulled the trigger.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Yes… racing classic cars, tennis, running, skiing.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Good crime dramas and thrillers – The Night Manager is the last thing I really enjoyed and it wasn’t too long!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Favorite food – oysters and lobsters
Favorite color – red – I only wear red socks.
Favorite music – The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Van Morrison, Passenger, Country music, some modern Jazz and so much more.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I’d be a racing driver.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Holy Shit What A Ride! And I want my ashes blasted from 4 huge rockets with very loud bangs so they shower down above all the guests!
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Here are my links:
My YouTube channel: www.peterjames.com/YouTube
My website: www.peterjames.com
Instagram Pets: https://instagram.com/peterjamesukpets