Peter James Interview
Thank you so much for letting me interview you about your current stage show “Not Dead Enough” Since your First published book Faith 2000 it’s been a positive start to not only your writing career but also film and now producing stage shows!
you can see my Review on Not Dead Enough HERE
To start off with …
What interested you in writing crime thrillers and was that your first interest in storyline writing?
Ever since I was a small child, I wanted to be a writer and to make films. I wanted to entertain people, but at the same time, I wanted through these media to examine the world and society in which we live. My first break was when I was seventeen I won a national short story competition run by the BBC and had to read my story out on air. I loved doing that, and it made me realize that much though the printed book is the bedrock of novels, there are all kinds of other media where the written and spoken word can be used to wonderful effect. After all long before printing was invented, stories were told and passed on orally. Now in my work today, I find the crime novel is the best genre through which I can explore the world in which we live.
Who do you feel was an influence in your career? And why?
When I was 14, I read Graeme Greene’s Brighton Rock, and this book totally changed my life. It is quite simply the book that made me realise I wanted to be a writer the first time I read it when I was a teenager. It is also the inspiration behind my setting the Roy Grace series in Brighton.
This timeless novel is both a thriller and a crime novel, although police play a small part and the story is almost entirely told through the eyes of the villains and two women who believe they can redeem them. Greene has a way of describing characters, in just a few sentences, that makes you feel you know them inside out and have probably met them, and his sense of “place” is almost palpable.
It is for me an almost perfect novel. It has one of the most grabbing opening lines ever written (‘Hale knew, within thirty minutes of arriving in Brighton, that they meant to kill him.’), And one of the finest last lines – very clever, very tantalizing and very, very “noir” – yet apt. Greene captures so vividly the dark, criminal underbelly of Brighton and Hove, as relevant now as when the book was first written, and the characters are wonderful, deeply human, deeply flawed and tragic. And yet, far more than being just an incredibly tense thriller, Greene uses the novel to explore big themes of religious faith, love and honour. And additionally, a bonus, it is also unique for being one of the few novels where the film adaptation is so good it complements rather than reduces the book.
Did you enjoy school and learning English Literature? If not how did you overcome them to become an award-winning author?
I did enjoy learning English Literature but I never thought I had any talent, and I never had any confidence as a child. But I was lucky enough to have one English teacher who told me he thought I had talent and that gave me a terrific boost. I honestly don’t think I would have had the confidence to continue if it had not been for this guy, David Summerscale (who incidentally went on to become headmaster of one of the UK’s top schools, Westminster). But I had a number of false starts…
Your books are graphic in detail, did you have special training to learn about criminal minds and acts of murders?
My novels tend to be very research driven as well as character driven. I spend an average one day a week out with the police, and my original ideas get shaped by my experiences I have during the researching. Central to each book is the main character I create, and what he or she would do in the circumstances in which they are placed so keeping current with the police, getting into the mind of the criminal, and getting the correct police procedures right is absolutely crucial.
Curious to know, have you been to prison for research purposes, in order to get into the mind for the realism of detail in your novels?
I try always in my crime novels to show the perspectives of all three parties involved – the victims, the police and the villains. I give many talks in prisons as I feel it gives me a unique opportunity to talk to the inmates. I know that it is the research I have done which has informed my books that gives them the feeling of authenticity that appeals to my readers today.
What made you think to stage shows of your novels?
I’ve always loved the live theatre. In November 2011, I was approached by theatre producer Josh Andrews, who had been very involved with bringing many of Agatha Christie’s works to the stage. He told me I was probably the nearest thing to a living Agatha Christie (!!!) and wondered if I had ever thought of having my work adapted. I jumped at it.
What is your favourite part of the book Not Dead Enough?
My favourite scene in the book is early on where my central character, Katie Bishop, fills her car up at a petrol station at night, goes into the garage to pay, and drives off. Suddenly in her mirror, she sees a man sitting behind her in the car.
How hard was it finding the right actors for your roles?
It is far harder than people often realise because with a touring play where the actors are going to be performing for up to half a year it is difficult to find a combination of those people who are perfect for the role, known to the public and willing to spend so long on the road, sleeping in a different hotel room or lodgings every week. That said, I feel that we have been blessed with the most wonderful casts for all my books that have been adapted to stage, and the casts have always had a blast!
I’d like to thank you for your time in taking part in my interview today thank you
Thanks so much.