Show 002: October 2007
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NewsIt’s completely fascinating to know that the podcast and website have accessed across the world, from the United States to Germany, and from Lithuania to China. It’s great that people want to listen. And do please contact me to share any thoughts or suggestions about the podcast and website.
My last few weeks have been taken up by the Ilkley Literature Festival with literary luminaries like Fay Weldon, Iain Banks and Blake Morrison. But it’s not quite finished. On Saturday 20th October I am running a Readers’ Day in Sheffield with writers Mike Gayle, Jasvinder Sanghere, Robyn Young, JoJo Moyles, Mandasue Heller and Craig Bradley. This is followed by me ‘in conversation with’ Sarah Waters of Fingersmith and The Night Watch fame on the 26th October. Both events are part of the Off the Shelf Festival.
And there is a final, lone event as part of the Ilkley literature Festival when we have a rare visit of Alice Sebold to these shores. On 10th November, Alice, whose book The Lovely Bones was a must read of several years ago, is going to talk about her latest book The Lucky Moon.
The Night Watch, by Sarah WatersSarah Waters is the subject of next month’s podcast interview, so it seems totally appropriate to be looking at her latest novel in our book review.
A remarkable novel by one of our best contemporary novelists.
This is an edited extract from an interview with Peter James, whose crime novels, featuring Inspector Roy Grace, are world-wide best sellers.
Q. You are now three books into the Roy Grace novels, all of them set in Brighton. Are you doing the same for Brighton as Ian Rankin has done for Edinburgh? And is Grace your Rebus?
A. I’m trying to make Brighton the crime capital of England. Seriously though, Brighton Rock by Graham Greene was the book that most impressed me as a kid. I dreamed of writing like that. Roy Grace might well be my Rebus. His work is very much based on my detective friend, Dave Gaylor, a Homicide as well as a pioneering Cold Case specialist, who rose to become Detective Chief Superintendent in Sussex. But the characterisation is an amalgam of elements, so there is quite a lot of me in him, especially his interest in the paranormal. And when I created him, I wanted to turn the traditional notion that detectives solve puzzles slightly around, and give Roy Grace a puzzle of his own, his long missing wife Sandy, that he could not solve. It’s the first time I’ve created a character who moves from book to book, and I find out more about Grace each time I write about him.
Q. How did you start writing? And who are your favourite crime writers?
A. I won a Radio 4 short story writing competition when I was seventeen. And then got a job on a television programme. I went on to write spy and supernatural novels, but I always wanted to write crime, I remember loving Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle as a kid, as well as the hard-boiled New York cops in Ed McBain’s books.
Q. I found the ‘buried alive’ chapters of your novel Dead Simple almost unbearably claustrophobic. Did you do any research or was it just gut-churning imagination?
A. It was a combination! I did get a local funeral director to allow me to lie in a coffin, then had him close the room and leave me there for ten minutes. It was one of the scariest ten minutes of my life. I kept thinking what if he had had screwed down the lid and, as in the book, he got killed, and I was stuck in there permanently... !!! And I had no idea just how little space there is in a coffin.
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