Saturday, 27 December 2008
I TRY to work hard at my writing. And when I compare myself to some writers, I just know that a lot of what I do is displacement activity.
Peter James is a writer I would love to emulate, for his utter professionalism and the FUN he has with his success. He is A WRITER. I am talking the whole package of his life as a writer. Writing, teaching, touring, publicity, living the high life!
A vast poster on London Underground stations currently advertises Peter’s latest Roy Grace novel, Dead Man’s Footsteps, of which Marcel Berlins of The Times says: “Tense, beautifully paced and excellent on police atmosphere and procedure, Dead Man's Footsteps, Peter James's fourth novel featuring Detective Inspector Roy Grace and the Brighton force, is his best."
I got a little frisson of pride when I wandered past. Not because Peter is a friend…but because this is his second novel to feature my husband. Ahem. Don’t ask.
Peter just telephoned to talk to Chris about something or other. Chris isn’t here, so we nattered instead. And he is calling from his study where he is into editing the NEXT Roy Grace novel. ‘That’s Chapter 24 done,’ he said.
Look at Peter’s website. HERE!
Look at the stuff he puts on there. He keeps a blog. He talks about his readers, the emails he gets, the extraordinary things he does. ( Eg: Dec 16th, about promising to take Geoff Duffield, the Sales and Marketing supremo of Pan Macmillan, to ANY restaurant in the world if he got Roy Grace to Number One on the bestsellers list. Mr Duffield got Roy Grace to Number one on four lists… so Peter did exactly that…)
He celebrates his fans. He knows how important they are. He is so good at signings (I know, I surprised him at a Brighton one before Christmas…), taking time out with every single person, making them feel special.
He talks about his fan mail, copying pieces to his website..eg:
My favourite email of all this year, so far at any rate, is one from a police officer in Brighton, a Detective Constable, who wrote to tell me that he started reading my books after he arrested a suspect earlier this year, and when he was booking him into custody, the suspect turned to him and said, "You know, you're just like a cop in a Peter James novel!"
And the interviews are informative, for ME. I reviewed Dead Simple, his first Roy Grace novel a few years back. In this one a character is buried alive in a coffin as a jape, and things go badly wrong. In one interview about his meticulous research, he reveals how he persuaded an undertaker to let him lie in a coffin, then he asked the man to screw the lid down and leave him in silence for half an hour…. INTERVIEW HERE
He is a brilliant publicist. But he is also a generous guy. Back in March, Peter came to the launch of Words from a Glass Bubble. He had already given me an extraordinary endorsement, something he does not do lightly. He had to go out of his way to get there, as he was whizzing between other engagements… but he came and we had a drink together.
“Thanks SO much for coming,” I said. “This means a lot.”
“No worries,” he said. “I have never forgotten, you came to MY first book launch….”
The latest Roy Grace is coming to Antarctica with me.