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Reading Ahead

Peter James

I’m a writer of crime and thriller novels and creator of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, who will be coming to TV screens in 2021 thanks to ITV! I also had stints writing for TV and producing films early on in my career, but now I focus on my novels, which I’m very proud to say have sold over 20 million copies to date and been translated into 37 languages.

Tell us about a time that reading had a positive impact on you.

When I was a child, I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories. In fact, I once wrote to Enid Blyton to ask her why none of the children ever needed to go to the toilet during Five on a Treasure Island. She sent me a very polite reply confirming that they had in fact needed to go, but she hadn’t included it because she hadn’t thought it would be of interest to readers!

I was lucky to have had a joy of reading instilled in me at a young age, but the book that made me want to be a writer is Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock. I read it aged 14, and as soon as I put it down I made a solemn promise to myself to one day try to write a thriller set in Brighton. That worked out quite well!

What do you love about reading?

There’s so much to love about reading, but I think my passion for books began when I was growing up essentially as an only child. There’s a big age gap between my sister and I, so we didn’t play together much and books were my constant companions. It was often only through books that I discovered that I wasn’t the only person in the world to feel a certain way about a certain thing.

Books have a unique ability to give you an insight into what it’s like to be inside another person’s mind. And you’re always learning when you’re reading – whether that’s on purpose because you’re reading non-fiction, or just a happy side-effect of being gripped by a great novel!

Can you recommend a read to our Reading Ahead participants?

One of my favourite novels is Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five . It’s quite a hard-hitting anti-war novel, but it’s also very funny and entertaining.
There is also a wonderful graphic novel version published last year, by author Ryan North and illustrator Albert Monteys.

Read a book by Peter:

I’m delighted to have been asked to write another Quick Read for 2021. Wish You Were Dead is out on 27 May. It’s a stand-alone story in which Roy Grace takes a holiday to France with his family. Sadly for Roy, criminals don’t take vacations!

Left You Dead, the 17th book in the Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series is out on 13 May. Roy’s most challenging case yet! A man is arrested on suspicion of murdering his wife when she goes missing shortly after another of their frequent arguments, but when Roy is called in to investigate it soon transpires that nothing is as it originally seemed…

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