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Stage: International best-seller Peter James talks to Latest 7 about his life of crime

Peter-James

When you moved from psychic thrillers to crime fiction did you imagine that they would become so globally popular?
Never! I’d always been a fan of crime fiction but I felt the market was already far too crowded. I had a two book deal and I figured that would be it and I’d return to my psychological thrillers.

What makes the Roy Grace novels work internationally?
It’s a combination of universal themes, the fact that Brighton is an iconic city known around the world, but most of all people of all nationalities seem to find a connection with Roy Grace.

As a writer creating such a well-established character, how difficult is it for you to see an actor portraying your vision?
It will be impossible to have a lead actor that fits everyone’s vision of the role. The key is that more than just physical appearances, I want to see an actor who will have the very essence of Roy Grace’s warmth and intelligence.

You love theatre, is turning a novel into a play a satisfying experience?
Immensely, it’s a wonderful feeling to sit in a packed theatre listening to the audience react and enjoying themselves. You can never sit and watch someone reading one of your books in the same way!

You talk with police officers in your research, do you ever talk to known criminals to get their side of the story? And who else do you talk to for research?
Yes, all my novels are written from the perspectives of the victims, the perpetrators and the police. I talk to criminals and I talk to victims almost as much as I talk to the police. I’m an absolute stickler for research so I will talk to experts in the field of whatever I’m writing about.

In depth research has taken you out with Sussex Police many times, have you ever been really frightened?
Yes, I’ve been scared on a number of occasions – even being a passenger in a blue-light run, whilst exhilarating, can be pretty terrifying too! I’ve been the most scared at 2am one morning in Crawley approaching a parked car with a suspected armed killer inside with just one single police constable, in a single-crewed car.

Will we ever see Roy Grace make it to film or TV?
Yes, we will, its taking a long time because I’m determined that it is as faithful as possible to the books and I’m not prepared to allow any significant changes that some of the past idiots in TV have tried to make. I hope we will see some real progress during 2017… watch this space!

When writing crime do you have to think like a criminal?
Yes, very much when writing the scenes involving my villains I put myself into their minds; I wrote a scene in which a thief was picking a door lock and a professional burglar told me the way he thinks is as himself being inside the lock – I was very pleased with that scene.

I certainly know how to commit the perfect murder

The novels have a common subplot involving Sandy, Grace’s first wife, do you regret that this is hard to include in the staged versions?
No not at all – we have made references to it in the stage plays and it always gets a pleasing murmur from those who know the novels. Shaun Mckenna, who has adapted the book to stage has been brilliant at finding ways to bring Sandy in.

Roy Grace is a dedicated detective, but will you ever allow him to be promoted?
It’s a good question. The problem with all promotion is the higher up the rank the more detached officers become from front line policing and inevitably turned into pen pushers. Roy is happiest – and my readers are happiest too – when he is a hands-on detective.

Grace has often uses psychic mediums in his cases, do you believe in psychic forces?
I certainly believe there is a huge amount that we don’t understand and I have a very open mind. I have a stand-alone thriller coming out in October called ‘Absolute Proof’ which is in this terrain – it revolves around the theme of what it would take to prove God’s existence and what would be the consequences if someone claimed to have that proof.

Is Roy a self-portrait?
No, but there are strong elements of my own character and views in him, such as his feelings about Brighton’s horror hospital, The Royal Sussex County!

You write about crime but have you ever committed one and would you like to confess to it here?
No major crime, but I certainly know how to commit the perfect murder, so anyone planning to give me a bad review on Amazon watch out!

www.notdeadenough.co.uk
Not Dead Enough, Theatre Royal Brighton, 13-18 February www.atgtickets.com/brighton
0844 871 7650

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