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