Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 061 – Peter James

Episode 61 features an interview with Peter James, an international best-selling British writer of crime fiction, which took place at Kobo’s HQ in June 2016 in front of a live audience. Peter is interviewed by KWL Director Mark Lefebvre.

PeterJames_at_kobo

In their discussion, Peter and Mark talk about:

  • Peter’s work on the Canadian children’s television program Polka Dot Door in Toronto in the 1970s where he worked as a “gofer” and was asked by a producer, when a regular staff writer called in sick, to write an episode. After that he ended up writing for the show for a year
  • The original “Agatha Christie” style crime fiction that Peter was weaned on which had very strict rules and conventions: A dead body in chapter one; preferably in a country house; a bit of culture; a bit of sex; a little bit of violence; and the hilariously fitting opening line that he has come up with which inserts all those elements
  • How Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (one of two of the best crime novels ever written, in Peter’s eyes – the other one is Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs) is a book that changed Peter’s life, because it threw all of those rules out the window
  • How Brighton Rock taught Peter 3 important things about novels: A great opening line. Where the central character is a villain that you can care about
  • How some of the most enduring characters in all of literature have been villains and how the villain in Love You Dead was inspired by a very unique woman Peter met on a prison visit
  • How having his house burgled led to Peter finding great friends from the police force who have invited him to learn directly from them for the past thirty years
  • The dedicated police officer who, upon first meeting Peter, pointed to a mountainous stack of crates of manila folders and introduced them as his “dead friends” and how he eventually became the inspiration for the character of Roy Grace

    PeterJames_interview01

  • Two traits that really good detectives have: They are incredibly anal and capable of out of the box thinking
  • Peter’s belief in the inseparable trinity of character, research and plot in creating writing
  • The great extremes that Peter has gone to in the name of research for his books, including being locked in a coffin for half an hour, holding a live scorpion in his hand, and being submerged in an overturned van
  • The book Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton that Peter is co-authoring with Graham Bartlett, based on Peter’s long-running respect for the real police and the many years of research he has done with them
  • The haunted house that Peter lived in which partially inspired his novel The House on Cold Hill

PeterJames_quotewall

Mark then talks about the great ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) that he received from Peter’s Canadian distributor (read the full blog post here) as a great example of author branding and grabbing a reader or reviewer’s attention as well as another important resource that authors can rely on for digital branding:  PERSONALITY.  Mark uses the example of Peter’s YouTube channel and how it helped add a new dimension to Peter’s author brand, and how watching several videos of the author helped Mark, as a reader, feel connected to the author.

 

Links of Interest

Peter James Website

Below, a great video from PJTV on finding the time to write “Find Some Me Time”

 

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