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Master of chills and thrills

DC | PAPIA LAHIRI
Published Nov 17, 2013, 8:14 pm IST
Updated Mar 18, 2019, 6:48 pm IST
Best-selling crime fiction author Peter James talks about the mind of a criminal and how ghosts were instrumental in making him a writer
A still from the movie 'Merchant of Venice', produced by James
 A still from the movie 'Merchant of Venice', produced by James

On a bright, sunny afternoon it is not usual for two people to meet and discuss about how unsafe the country is getting these days, with the rising number of rape cases that are being reported. But if one is meeting the master of crime fiction and best-selling author Peter James, known for his immense research on crime scene in England and sound understanding of the criminal mind, the discussion is unavoidable. He is in India to promote his new book, 'Dead Man's Time' (by Pan MacMillan), featuring his popular detective, Roy Grace.

“It might sound quite sadistic, but crime plots make for a terrific read -fiction or nonfiction. In most crime fiction, one will find the perpetrators as the most charming personalities. But a good read needs to thrive on three backbones -characters, plot and research. I find research lacking in many of the crime fiction available today. It makes me very angry," says the 65year-old author.

 

His all-time favourite crime fiction is Graham Greene's 'Brighton Rock' and amongst the newer lot he likes reading the works of Michael Connelly . “I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes novels. But reading Greene's book at the age of 14, made me decide that even I had to write a thriller set in Brighton," he adds.

James' family is into the glove-making business and have been a supplier of gloves to the royal family, from Queen Elizabeth to Kate Middleton. What triggered his interest in writing then?

“As a young kid, I often used to visit our factory and began observing human behaviour from close quarters and was privy to all kind of gossip amongst the workers. I always knew I had to write and these human interest tales became ideal fodder for my mind," recalls James.

 

He started his writing career with supernatural fiction. “I had shifted across three houses in my life and all of them had the presence of ghosts and spirits. They were instrumental in making me start writing. My new house hasn't really shown any ghostly presence as yet. Fingers crossed though!" he admits.

Brighton-based detective, Roy Grace, the protagonist in most of James's novels has quite a fan following. What led to the creation of the popular character? “Roy Grace is modelled on a real life detective I encountered when my house was burgled. Detective Dave Gaylor, was young, had read some of the thrillers I had writ ten and offered to help me in my research," says James, whose latest novel travels between gangs of New York in 1920s and antiques trade in Brighton.

 

“History is a great reference point for any writer. I am very much interested in it," he says.

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