Today I am screaming with excitement because I have an exclusive Q&A with the fabulous Peter James. The latest Roy Grace is released as a paperback on 22nd October 2015. You are Dead is a must read for any crime fans out there.
1. Tell us about your latest Roy Grace ‘You are Dead’.
A young Brighton woman arriving home from work phones her boyfriend, to tell him she has just driven into their underground car park and can see a man acting strangely. Her boyfriend tells her to drive straight back out, but before he finishes speaking she screams and the phone goes dead. He calls the police and rushes home himself – and she has vanished.
That same afternoon, workmen digging up a park in another part of the city, unearth the remains of a woman in her early twenties, who has been dead for thirty years. At first, to Roy Grace and his team, these two events seem totally unconnected. But then another young woman in Brighton goes missing – and yet another body from the past surfaces. Detective Superintendent Roy Grace has the chilling realization that there is a connection between the past and the present. Does Brighton have its first serial killer in over eighty years? A monster who has resurfaced after lying low for three decades?
2. This time you have a gripping serial killer storyline? What inspired you to write about a serial killer.
We can understand the motives of many murderers. A partner who kills their loved one in a fit of jealous rage. A ruthless armed robber who shoots out of greed. The terrorist who kills out of warped ideology. The professional hit man who kills for a fee. The husband who buries his wife beneath the kitchen floor because he’s fallen in love with someone else. But it is the serial killer intrigues and chills us the most. The person who kills for sheer pleasure or satisfaction, the gratification derived from the act, driven by a mindset that is sometimes beyond comprehension, sometimes alien – and always repugnant to decent human beings. And the scariest thing about most of these is their cunning – serial killers who get away with it for years – and sometimes decades – are often highly intelligent chameleons who blend into society, unsuspected by family and friends. America’s worst serial killer, Ten Bundy, who raped and killed 106 young women, was a handsome former law student who had worked for the Republican party. The UK’s worst serial killer ever was a jolly, bearded family doctor who just happened to like killing his patients and was very good at it, killing as many as 350.
In my research to create my central villain for this novel, I eventually singled out four names. These came from a catalogue, hundreds of pages long, of murderers who have taken three or more lives at different times – the actual definition of a serial killer. Ted Bundy. Dennis Rader. Harold Shipman. Dennis Nilsen. What fascinated me about these was how outwardly they seemed very respectable men. Shipman was a well-loved family doctor. Nilsen was in the army, then a police officer, then Executive Officer for a Jobcentre. All four of these got away with their killings over many years. Each of them very nearly got away with it completely.
3. One of the best features of the Roy Grace series is the character of Sandy. Sandy is a mystery. She walked out on Roy and now has been declared dead. Roy has moved on, in his life with Cleo. I love how you teased us again with the resolution of this storyline.
Can you give us a hint of what might happen in the future for Roy and Sandy?
There are certainly big developments in my next Roy Grace novel – I am busy finishing this at the moment – I’m sorry, but if I told you I’d have to kill you!
4. You have a lovely set of characters in the Roy Grace series. They feel like old friends. I am particularly fond of Norman and of course Marlon the fish. Do you have a favourite?
I like Roy Grace the most of any character I have created, and there is a lot of myself in him. Roy Grace is a man who believes that we all have an obligation, with our lives, to try to leave the world a slightly better place than when we first came into it. That’s my view and it is party why I write, to examine and try to understand better the world we live in and why people do the things they go. But I do also love the terrible Norman Potting. He is able to say all kinds of politically incorrect things that can not longer be said!
5. Can you tell us about your writing. How many hours a day do you write?
I try to ensure that whatever I’m doing I leave myself time to write 1000 words 6 days a week. I have offices in my Sussex and Notting Hill homes, but I can write anywhere. Thanks to laptops, my office has long ceased to be a concrete space and I can write on the move. I actually write really well on airplanes, in the back of a car and in hotel rooms. But my favourite writing time is 6 – 9:30 in the evening. I got used to that when I was working full time in film and TV, and made this my ‘me’ time. I have a stiff drink – often a vodka martini, with four olives, put on music and get in a zone. I really love this time of the day.
6. I heard a rumour that you were going to make a Roy Grace TV series, set in Brighton. Is this still going ahead?
There is going to be some news quite soon now. There is a lot happening behind the scenes that is very exciting and I hope to be in a position to make an announcement regarding a planned Roy Grace TV series within the next few months.
Wonderful. Thank you so much, Peter!
A big thanks to my Mum and my sister, Katherine who are also massive Peter James fans and contributed to the questions.
My review of You are Dead is here
Purchase information: You Are Dead
Peter James on Twitter Peter James