Peter James confesses all to Sidmouth fans
- Credit: Archant
An international best-selling crime writer confessed his love of the genre to a captive audience in Sidmouth.
Peter James turns fact into fiction and takes novel inspiration for his books, from being stalked to joining the police on raids.
The writer was in town as part of the Meet the Authors series at Kennaway House last Friday, and spoke of his move from ‘terrible’ spy thrillers to gritty crime stories.
“You need to write what you’re passionate about, and what you can access,” he said.
But that access for him wasn’t always intentional - he met the model for his enduring main character, Roy Grace, after his house was broken into.
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That detective inspector continues to work as a consultant, ensuring that Roy thinks like real police and there are no procedural inaccuracies.
“The best detectives are methodical, but they are also great at thinking laterally,” said Peter.
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“Nobody sees human life like police officers – they deal with incidents all day long.”
His interaction with real police officers has made him a stickler for detail.
The 64-year-old said that cop dramas on television have him shouting at the screen when he sees detectives like Morse trampling over a crime scene.
And he’s had some negative experiences with producers wanting to televise his books.
“The BBC wanted to relocate it to Scotland and ITV wanted to make Roy Grace a woman,” he said. “They missed the point.”
But he has not been deterred, and Roy Grace is set to be on television screens next year.
The crime writer has always grasped technology, being the first person to publish a book electronically – it came out on two floppy disks – and he predicted the rise of e-books.
His mother had a more traditional role – she made gloves for the Queen.
The self-confessed petrol head has always had a morbid streak - his first car was a hearse.
Similarly, his sister would always want to know where the nearest graveyard was when they visited a new place.
The ‘Meet the Authors’ series continued on Monday with Rachel Johnson, and Will Eaves will be in Kennaway House on May 16.
Tickets (£10 including a glass of wine) are available from the venue or on 01395 515551.