Anthony Hooper Interview: “I draw on people I know for the characters in the book”

tony hooper

Anthony Hooper, author of Sheffield set thriller The Glass Lie talks me through his work and how he came to publish this innovative novel.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards writing political thrillers?

I prefer to write in a conversational style. I’m not sure it’s the best way to write a political crime thriller but the feedback so far has been quite positive. The second instalment is finished and written in the same style. The third book is planned out and that will probably go the same way. Originally the idea came to me as a script which may have had a subliminal impact on the way I write.

I am a retired lecturer of politics and international relations. I came to the job quite late after taking a politics degree at the University of Sheffield. I graduated as I approached my fortieth birthday and spent fifteen years teaching undergraduates. Whilst at University I attended a seminar on the cycles of power. Countries and people ascend to a position of power and authority. Some believe these cycles break down and the country or person’s authority declines. Usually, they do all they can to hold on to the privileges of authority. The seminar was about a year after Mrs Thatcher had been removed from office by her own party.

It was after this seminar the idea for the book began to form (1992). I wrote about 5,000 words around a person wanting to desperately hold on to power, only to see it evaporate. Those words stayed in the computer and every incarnation of disk and USB stick until I finally sat down (retirement finally offered me the time).

I met Harlan Coben on his book tour and questioned him about my book. He was very generous with his time and advised me to switch main characters from the civil servant to the police officer. The reason for this was the story was planned as a trilogy with the civil servant rising to the top of the political tree. If I made the police officer the main character, I would be able to write far more than three books, as long as I could think up a decent plot.

What is your background and how did you get in to writing professionally? How do you draw on your past when writing fiction?  

Suffice to say, I have had a number of careers, spanning the armed forces, private industry, social services and teaching. The latter, by far, was the most fun and rewarding. I was studying towards my PhD when I retired and it was a source of great disappointment that I did not complete my thesis. The book was a cathartic way of writing 100,000 coherent words. Once the book was finished, it seemed natural to try and get it published. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a literary agent to represent me, so I took the alternative route and sent my manuscript to a number of publishers. Luckily, Scribblin House liked what they read and offered to publish the book for me on a three- book deal.

I draw heavily on my past in couple of important areas. Firstly, the books are set in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, where I was born. The Glass Lie is set on a university campus in Sheffield. Although the name of the university has been changed for legal reasons, it wouldn’t take anyone with a passing knowledge of Sheffield geography to work out which university it is. Secondly, there is an element of historical licence within the book, in that certain locations, such as the police headquarters, no longer exist in the location within the book. The police HQ has moved out of the city centre towards the M1 motorway. The building is now the main magistrates court for the city.

The second book also delves into the world of the armed forces (from my very distant past) when soldiers on leave or in uniform are murdered on the streets of Sheffield. Their motivation for the murders takes revenge to a new level.

Please tell me about your books. What do you believe draws readers to your work?

I only have the experience of one book to draw on but the feedback I have received focuses on one theme and that is setting. The book sold very well locally. When speaking to local book clubs (around South Yorkshire) they liked the idea of a mainstream crime novel (they didn’t see it as political) being based in Sheffield. Considering it is the fourth largest city in England, it tends to go under most people’s radar. One reader hoped it would be filmed and then Sheffield ‘really would be on the map’. The setting was just as important when I spoke to a group in York, only for them, it was the Yorkshire setting. We really do see ourselves as Gods own County.

Although mainly based around the city, the original manuscript included far more political discussions in London as the plot centred around a prime minister trying to stay in power by looking tough on a topic that was in the news and wouldn’t go away. Although still there, it is far more diluted than originally planned. However, it is based on campus and students come from all over the country and when two students commit a crime the run away during reading week to a cottage in Wales until everything calms down. The village is very real and the cottage is where I have spent the past week walking in the hills around Harlech.

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

I draw on people I know for the characters in the book. Although they may not do that job I picture these people when writing and it helps the flow. As I’m new to published writing I haven’t experienced writers block (touch wood). If anything, I have become estranged from the characters in the first two books. They became so entrenched in my head I began to resent them. It’s easy to see how George Martin kills off his main characters with alarming regularity. It’s crossed my mind a couple of times.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

If I could collaborate with anyone it would be someone I have got to know very recently. Sharon Bolton, the crime novelist. Her writing is very dark (much darker than mine), and she draws such wonderful characters. When we exchange comments on Twitter her humour is very similar to mine and that always helps if you’re working with someone.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

Beyond book three the publishers have indicated that I can develop a couple of ideas that have been in my head for years. The first one is The Intueri Children; a book about Aliens living amongst us, trying to subvert our civilisation. It is up to a special group of children to stop them. The second book is the Bus Conductor’s Bench, a supernatural themed book about how people pass over to the other side and how they may be given a second chance of life.

Thanks for taking the time Anthony, it’s been a pleasure.

Writing Good Thrillers: Are Unreliable Narrators the Way to Go?

moshin hamid

During both my English Literature degrees my favourite module was always post-colonialism, as it exposed me to great writers I would otherwise have never even thought about, as well as some fantastic writing and new cultures. I learned to love writers such as Nadine Gordimer, J. M. Coetzee and Moshin Hamid.

I had only read Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist until recently, but I found my as yet untouched copy of Moth Smoke a few weeks ago (I haven’t even bought Hamid’s latest, Exit West, or his third book, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, yet, which is testimony to how behind I am in my reading) and decided to delve in. I was not disappointed. As thrilling, tense and direct as The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Moth Smoke is an equally challenging thriller with a similar style, and a selection of equally unreliable narrators. As with the previous novel this is written mostly in a first person narrative, but with various narrators many of whom are contradictory and conceited, each believing themselves to be more right than anyone else. It is these narrators that form the backbone of the tension that remains taut throughout the novel; from the moment the reader enters the murky world of Lahore’s middle class society to the novel’s tense conclusion.

Despicable, unreliable and downright disgusting characters are a key trope in Hamid’s work. In Moth Smoke, the three core protagonists are all vile; Ozi is a spoiled little rich boy with a corrupt father and a manipulative nature, his wife Mumtaz selfish and bitter. Central character and main first person narrator Daru is morally corrupt and incredibly bitter about the increased good fortunes of his this wealthy, privileged couple, and it is his bitterness and jealousy that sets off a downward spiral in his own life.

So, are unreliable narrators the secret to truly great thrillers? Recently I have been searching for thrillers that are not driven by merciless violence, gore and a strong police presence and coming up decidedly short. Some of the greatest thrillers from the last year, such as The Girl on the Train, rely on unreliable narration to fuel the tension and drive the reader through the narrative, steering them towards incorrect conclusions. In standout brilliant thriller series such as Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, readers are made to disbelieve the central characters and distrust their motives, and it is this that fuels their interest in the overall outcome.

Overall, I am inclined to believe that whilst unreliable narrators should feature heavily in thrillers, it would be nice to see some new, original tropes such as setting featuring more heavily in modern thrillers. Moth Smoke encapsulates modern Lahore but, unlike many great thrillers such as Henning Mankell’s novels or Tayeb Salih’s stunning Season of Migration to the North, setting is not used as an additional character, which is what really makes these novels stand out. I would like to see additional uses of key thriller tropes in more modern novels as I continue to play catch up on myself and visit the latest novels of some of my favourite writers, many of whom combine post colonialism perfectly with thrilling stories to create books which stand the test of time and prove to be true classics.

Matt Johnson Interview: “It never fails to surprise me how much I recall as I write”

Deadly Game cover 2

Matt Johnson, a former solider and policeman who has since turned his hand to writing engaging and exciting thrillers, talks me through his work and the process he uses to create it.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction and thriller writing?

I describe myself as something of an accidental author. I say that as becoming a writer had never been an ambition of mine and I came to it almost by accident. Many years ago, I received counselling as part of a therapy treating PTSD. Included in that therapy was writing about my experiences, emotions etc. I found I enjoyed it and the counsellor was moved to comment on how much she liked the result. One day, I sat at my PC and started to weave my notes into a work of fiction. That it became Wicked Game, a crime thriller, is almost certainly a product of my working life.

Please tell me about your books. What key narrative tropes do you draw on?

With two books now published, I’m about half way through my third. I haven’t had the benefit of any formal training as a writer so what I generate comes very much from the heart. I just let the words flow as the story grows. Tropes – the use of words for artistic effect – are something that may or may not result. I describe what I see, and use words in the best way I can to do so. If that may be described by those better qualified than me to say as a ‘trope’ then so be it.

How do you draw on your past as a former solider and policeman when writing fiction?

It never fails to surprise me how much I recall as I write. Ask me, face to face, about something and I may not be able to access the memory. But, once I start writing that changes. Something happens as I ‘get into the groove’ and it all comes flooding back.

How do your various hobbies (beekeeping, motorbike riding etc) influence your work? I’m intrigued!

They don’t really! In fact they are a terrible distraction. I’m the world’s worst at committing myself to the work in progress. So, it might be said that those hobbies slow me down. But, all the hobbies give me time to think. Some of my most creative ideas occur when I’m walking the dogs, out in the fresh air on the mountains near my home in Wales. For the reason, I try to remember to carry a digital recorder as, so often, by the time I’m back at the PC, I forget what the idea was!

Where do you find your inspiration? Are there any particular places or incidents you draw on when you find yourself with writer’s block?

One thing I have learned is ‘just write’. So often we want to get that sentence, that chapter beginning, that point in the plot right, and first time. We forget that the first writing is just that and that it’s going to change. It really doesn’t matter if we get it right first time. So now, I just write and mostly, but certainly not always, the words will flow. And if I get a block, I walk the dogs and just unwind. Ideas often come when you least expect them.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Oh goodness, that’s a tough one. I think it would be Peter James. Peter writes very well and is really thorough with his research. I’d quite like to have my protagonist, Robert Finlay, work on an enquiry with Roy Grace.

Do you have any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I do, but for now I’m keeping them close to my chest. One thing I have learned since my introduction to publishing as that the real competition between writers is not for sales – there are lots of readers who read many different authors – it is for ideas, especially that real gem that will become a best-seller.

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to coming up?

Three spring to mind. One is a chap called John Sutherland. John is a Chief Superintendent in the Met and is just about to retire following a serious issue with depression. John’s first book, an autobiographical account of his battle with mental illness is called Blue and is an incredible read. I’ve followed John’s blog – Police Commander – for a long time and I was so impressed with it I suggested he should write a book. I’m pleased he did, because Blue’is quite incredible’

My second choice would be Amanda Jennings, one of last years WH Smiths’ Fresh Talent authors. I loved her book In her Wake.

Finally, I recently met a young man called Matt Wesolowski whose debut is a crime story called Six Stories. The book is very original in both style and content. It’s also very good. Matt is, to my mind, a real talent and one to watch.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to say thanks for the opportunity, and for getting me writing again! I’ve just returned from a break abroad and was finding it a little challenging getting back to the coalface. Completing this interview has kick-started the grey matter!

Thanks to Matt for taking the time, it was really great to hear from you.

The Top Five John Rebus Novels

strip jack

When I was younger, following on the heels of my obsession with Henning Mankell, I moved on to Ian Rankin and his brilliant Rebus novels. Whilst I’ll admit that haven’t kept up with the adventures of Ian Rankin’s dour Scottish detective over recent years, I have always enjoyed his escapades as he seeks to bring justice to the lawless Edinburgh streets.

What really makes this novels stand out to me is their multi-dimensional protagonist. Although John Rebus is an alcoholic, womanising former solider with authority issues and a grumpy ex-wife (thereby encompassing just about every stereotype going), Rankin portrays his character with great skill, and the reader is able to get inside Rebus’s head and really understand his thought process.

Much like my all-time favourite fictional detective, Mankell’s Kurt Wallander, the reader is able to see the good and the bad of Rebus and really understand his actions. Check out my top five picks which are guaranteed to get you hooked.

5. Fleshmarket Close: Touching on contemporary issues such as immigration and gang violence, Fleshmarket Close is an exciting novel with a strong, exhilarating plot. As ever, Rebus has to contend with a number of obstacles in his pursuit of justice as he battles to uncover the perpetrators a number of potentially related crimes.

4. Black & Blue: On trial in more ways than one, and hunting what he suspects is a renowned serial killer, this novel shows us Rebus at his best; backed in a corner with a murderer to catch. Showcasing multiple settings, the novel seamlessly blends between them as Rebus races to uncover the, as ever, unsavoury truth.

3. The Black Book: Possibly one of the most twisted, confusing novels I have ever read, The Black Book skilfully guides the reader through a series of interlinked crimes without becoming convoluted or preposterous. Rebus is on top form as he commits many derelictions of duty and blatantly flouts the rules in his quest for justice. Through Rankin’s novels I am always incredibly surprised that Rebus is not simply fired from the force for his behaviour, but then I suppose that would make this an incredibly short series. 

2. Knots and Crosses: The beginning is always a good place to start, and the Rebus series starts with a bang as we meet Detective Inspector John Rebus, who is hunting a child abductor and murderer. He is soon thrust into a high stakes race against time as the killer decides to make things personal, and the detective is forced to confront his past in order to overcome his demons and retrieve the missing girls, one of whom is his own daughter. A thrilling opener this novel makes for a great introduction to this exceptional character.

ian rankin

1. Strip Jack: This early Rebus novel is my favourite as it draws the character into the murky world of politics, where his hard hitting, tough talking ways are somewhat out of place as he investigates the framing of a young MP. It quickly becomes clear that all is not as it seems in this gilded young man’s life as Rebus wades through brothels, asylums and constant lies to uncover the truth following the disappearance of the MP’s wife.

Need You Dead Review: Roy Grace is Back and Ready to Go

Need You Dead. HB. High Res Jacket

Following on from the fascinating interview author Peter James gave me recently (check it out HERE) I review his latest novel featuring his Brighton based detective Roy Grace, Need You Dead.

The thirteenth Roy Grace novel is as steely and intriguing as the others, with dizzying twists throughout the narrative that will keep even the most jaded reader hooked right to the end.

Grace, still reeling from the recent revelations about his missing, now late wife Sandy and the arrival of the son he never knew they had, is drawn into a seemingly open and shut murder case. The victim had an abusive husband with a history of escalating violence who runs when confronted by the police.

However, discoveries about the victim and her colourful private life come to light that threaten Grace’s team’s certainty. With twists and turns in every chapter, James does his utmost to keep the reader hooked right to the end, an even a seasoned whodunit reader won’t guess the explosive twist implemented right at the very end of the novel.

The ultimate thriller, this novel is well researched and features a number of memorable characters. It is characterisation that really scores James points in Need You Dead; from Grace’s team of coppers through to the myriad of shady suspects, everyone has a great internal monologue and a sense of purpose. The dialogue is equally strong, although sometimes the police meetings can become plodding, with everyone determined to say their piece. Whilst I appreciate James’ need for accuracy, there is sometimes something to be said for artistic license, and if ever there was an occasion to cut some dialogue, it’s here.

Overall this is a great novel that benefits from strong characterisation, an intriguing and virtually unguessable plot and more twists than a fairground ride. With plotting like this it is easy to see how James has managed to sell over 18 million Roy Grace novels around the world.

Blue Gold Review: An Innovative Dystopian Thriller That Shows Great Promise

blue gold

Recently dystopian thrillers have become my go-to as Trump wages war on everyone’s rights and between them he, Putin and Kim Jong Un all conspire to create a frightening and at times utterly abhorrent world for us all, so I was gleeful at the prospect of the intriguing and tantalising Blue Gold, the debut novel of Banker David Barker.

Set in a dystopian future reminiscent of P.D James’ The Children of Men, Blue Gold depicts a time when, instead of infertility, it is water that is the issue, and this vital resource is the centre of great unrest.

A fascinating concept let down by slightly overly complicated dialogue, this is a riveting thriller with some pretty interesting characters and a plot that is both well thought out and not completely unbelievable. The info dumping in the dialogue and wider narrative could do with fine-tuning but beyond that there are really great chapters and at times the reader is able to race through the novel at breath taking speed.

Overall, I did have some misgivings about Blue Gold, but there are more positives than negatives and, in a literature market saturated with fluffy, feel good books designed to make you happy, it’s nice to read a thriller that can make you think.

Peter James Interview: “I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, the global success that Roy Grace would have”

Peter James author photo

I have got a real treat for you as I speak to Peter James, award winning novelist and creator of the Sunday Times Bestseller List stalwart, the Roy Grace series, which is about to reach its 13th book with the upcoming publication of Need You Dead, in which Grace is faced with a challenging investigation as the killer of an abused wife appears closer to home than he’d like. A meticulous researcher and Crime Fiction enthusiast, Peter discusses his journey into writing and how he went from writing for the screen to creating this superb series, which has sold over 18 million books worldwide.

Tell me about how the books you write. What drew you to crime and thriller writing?

I had always wanted to write “crime novels” yet had shied away for many years, because I thought the UK crime fiction genre had very definite rules and conventions that could not be broken. For instance that you had to start with a dead body, preferably in the library of a country house… and the rest of the story was the puzzle of solving what happened. I started writing very bad spy thrillers, then I wrote a number of supernatural thrillers. Then I started reading modern American thrillers by the likes of Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben and James Patterson’s Alex Cross stories, and realized that it was perfectly possible to write crime novels that were, at the same time, fast paced thrillers. The really pivotal moment for me was when Geoff Duffield from my UK publishers, Pan Macmillan, approached my dear late agent, Carole Blake. He told her he felt I had the potential to become the UK’s answer to Harlan Coben if I was willing to write crime thrillers. I jumped at the chance and have never looked back.

What was the first crime fiction novel you read and how did it draw you into seeking out more books of this genre?

When I was 14 I read Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock and this book totally changed my life. It is quite simply the book that made me realize 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. When I put this book down, I made a vow that one day I would try to write a novel set in my home city of Brighton that was ten percent as good as this.

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, is 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.

Need You Dead. HB. High Res Jacket

What is your career background and how did you get into writing full time?

I started my career writing back in 1970 when I first arrived in Toronto, and worked for Channel 19 TV as a gofer, on the kid’s daily show Polka Dot Door. One day the scriptwriter was ill and the producer asked me to write the show – I ended up writing it for nearly a year. I used to sit in my flat in Toronto, staring out of the window in the morning looking at the rush hour traffic, thinking, ‘You lucky bastards, you are going to an office, you will meet other people, socialize all day…”. Then after 15 years in film and television as a screenwriter and producer in the crazy movie business, it was sheer bliss to become a full-time writer. I bought a massive Georgian manor house in Sussex and for some years revelled in not having to shave in the mornings- having all day to myself- but gradually I started going nuts with the isolation. One day I found myself carrying the vacuum cleaner across the fields at lunchtime to the repairman in Hassocks in order to have someone to talk to; life as a writer is difficult and I find most full-time writers that I know are a little strange. I love the balance that I have now.

Please tell me more about your books. Why do you believe that they have become so popular?

I never imagined, in my wildest dreams, the global success that Roy Grace would have. I love writing these books more than anything I have ever done in my life and just so long as my readers keep enjoying them and wanting more, I will continue.

In the early days, I had years of rejection letters as an unpublished author. It was as if there was a wall on one side of which were the publishers and the published authors, and on the other side were all those desperate to be published authors – and never the twain should meet. I became hugely despondent in my mid-twenties, really believing that the dream I’d held since the age of eight, of being a published author, would never come true. I resigned myself to the fact that I would never be any good at writing novels, that I just did not have what it took.

I think all of us are the sum of our parts, so I would have to question whether, if I went back into the past and changed anything, I would be lucky enough to be so successful over again.   Writing is a craft, no different at certain levels to other crafts. A wannabe carpenter’s tenth table is going to be better than his first, because practice does make perfect – or at least less bad! My first novel was actually my fourth – I had written three novels in my late teens and early twenties, which, luckily, never got published, before my fourth. But I was to write a further four before I finally achieved my ambition, to make the Top 10 best-sellers list – and exceeded it by reaching No 1.   Knowing what I know now, I don’t think I would do anything differently. Instant success can be a dangerous thing. I’ve seen so many writers get a massively hyped first novel, and then struggle for the rest of their careers to match it – and rarely do. I am very happy with my lot – an overnight bestseller who took 31 years to get there!

The success of these novels has totally astonished me, I never expected them to be this popular – and it is wonderful – I’m immensely grateful to all my readers and, of course, now I feel very protective of him! I think my readers can connect to Roy’s human side which is drawn out of the fact he is based on a real person (David Gaylor) I think they find it interesting that his job is to solve mysteries, and yet he has his own mystery that he can’t solve. I think Roy would be good fun to spend an evening with, but more seriously, if ever I was unlucky enough to have one of my family murdered he’s the man I’d want running the investigation.

Are there any particular mediums or narrative troupes you like to use in your writing and why? 

I write the way I like to read – which is short chapters, with cliffhanger endings. One trope I do enjoy is using a phrase in the last line of the chapter that I then pick up again in the first line of the next chapter.

What books/ authors do you enjoy reading and how does this influence your writing?

I’ve learned a lot from some of the great classical writers – in particular Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Scott Fitzgerald and Graham Greene. I read very broadly and very eclectically, and I’ve never been comfortable with “genre” boundaries. In my view, great writing is great writing whether it is labelled “thriller”, “crime”, “general fiction”, “horror” or anything else. Of current writers in the UK, I like William Boyd a lot, and early Ian McEwan. One of my biggest influences was the late thriller writer Desmond Bagley. There are some fine UK crime writers, whose work I really like, including Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, Brian McGillivray, Anne Cleeves, Stuart McBride and many others, but I tend to read more US writers. I used to love John D Macdonald’s funky Travis McGee series, I was a great fan of Stephen King’s early novels, in particular Carrie and The Shining, and I think Ira Levin wrote two of the greatest, darkest books ever written, Rosemary’s Baby and The Boys From Brazil. I like James Ellroy, and I love Elmore Leonard – he just writes the most fabulous characters. Two of my favourite crime novels of the past few decades are Silence Of The Lambs and Michael Connelly’s The Lincoln Lawyer.

If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

In fact, I have just collaborated on a short story which will form part of an anthology called MATCH UP where I have paired up with the wonderful Val McDermid and we have Carol Jordan, Tony Hill and Roy Grace working on a case together. Similarly, I wrote a short story with Ian Rankin in an anthology called FACE OFF, the story being called ‘In The Nick Of Time’ and this complication was a New York Times bestseller. We had Grace and Rebus working on a case together and it was hugely enjoyable writing it!

I hope to also write more with Graham Bartlett too. For many years, David Gaylor was my principal contact in Sussex Police, working closely with me on the planning of my stories and giving me introductions to any officers he felt would be helpful to my research on each successive Roy Grace novel, to lend my books the authenticity I try hard to maintain. When he retired, I was immensely fortunate to have that baton taken on by his good friend, Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett, himself a former senior homicide detective, who then became Commander of Brighton and Hove Police. Graham and I instantly hit it off and he was an invaluable help to me for several years. When he was coming up to retirement he told me he harboured ambitions to become a published author, and sent me examples of blogs he had written over the years, for me to judge his skills. Then I had a true light bulb moment. Many people had been suggesting to me, over the years, that I should write a non-fiction book about my research with the police and throughout his thirty-year career, Graham had the unique experience of policing Brighton and Hove at every rank and had been involved in many of the cases that provided inspiration both for characters and for plots of my novels. He clearly had writing talent. We decided to collaborate and write a book about what it was really like to be a police officer in Roy Grace’s Brighton and it was published last year and went to Number 7 in the Sunday Times Bestseller list!

Have you got any exciting new plans or projects coming up that you’d like to share with me?

Roy Grace number 13, called Need You Dead will be published on May 18th. The stage play of my 3rd Roy Grace novel, Not Dead Enough is currently touring the UK until July 1st. I’m just editing my latest standalone called Absolute Proof which is actually a move away from the crime genre- it’s a standalone novel on the theme of what might happen if someone claimed to have absolute proof of the existence of God. It is a subject that has long intrigued me, and I have been working on the research planning of this book for nearly two decades. It will be published next year. And I hope also to share some good news about Roy Grace on TV soon!

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?  

I’m always excited to find a new writer who grips me. I really liked JP Delaney’s The Girl Before and I look forward to this author’s next book.

Do you have anything to add?

I’ve written the foreword to a wonderful work of non-fiction, Dorling Kindersley’s The Crime Book, which has just been published. And in June there is another fantastic book being published, Matchup. It’s an anthology, edited by Lee Child, in which eleven female thriller writers are paired up with eleven male writers, with their central characters working together. Val McDermid and I have Carole Jordan, Tony Hill and Roy Grace working together! Other pairings include Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan working with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. It has been a lot of fun and I think all the stories are great!

Thanks to Peter for taking the time, it’s been really fascinating to learn about his methods, and if you fancy finding out his website HERE.