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Kobo Writing Life Podcast


The Kobo Writing Life Podcast brings you insights and inspiration for growing your self-publishing business. We feature interviews with bestselling authors and industry experts, who share practical advice you can use to improve your writing and sell more books. Hosted by KWL's very own Chrissy Munroe and Stephanie McGrath, you'll also get the latest news and updates about Kobo and the KWL platform. Self-publish today at www.kobo.com/writinglife

Jul 6, 2016

Episode 61 features an interview with Peter James, an international best-selling British writer of crime fiction, which took place at Kobo in June 2016 in front of a live audience. Peter is interviewed by Kobo Writing Life director Mark Lefebvre.

In the interview, Mark and Peter discuss:

  • Peter’s work on the Canadian television program POLKA DOT DOOR in Toronto in the 1970s where he worked as a "gofer" and was asked by a producer, when a regular staff writer called in sick, to write an episode. After that he ended up writing for the show for a year.
  • The original “Agatha Christie” style crime fiction that Peter was weaned on which had very strict rules and conventions: A dead body in chapter one; preferably in a country house; a bit of culture; a bit of sex; a little bit of violence and the hilariously fitting opening line that he has come up with which inserts all those elements
  • How Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock (one of two of the best crime novels ever written, in Peter’s eyes – the other one is Thomas Harris’s The Silence of the Lambs) is a book that changed Peter’s life, because it threw all of those rules out the window.
  • How Brighton Rock taught Peter 3 important things about novels: A great opening line. Where the central character is a villain that you can care about.
  • How some of the most enduring characters in all of literature have been villains.
  • How the villain in LOVE YOU DEAD was inspired by a woman Peter met on a prison visit
  • How having his house burgled let to Peter finding great friends from the police force who have invited him to learn directly from them for the past thirty years, inserting the authenticity that he so carves in his crime fiction
  • The dedicated police officer who, upon first meeting Peter, pointed to a mountainous stack of crates of manila folders and introduced them as his “dead friends” and how he eventually became the inspiration for Roy Grace
  • Two traits that really good detectives have: They are incredibly anal and capable of incredible out of the box thinking
  • Peter’s belief in the inseparable trinity of character, research and plot in creating writing
  • The great extremes that Peter has gone to in the name of research for his books, including being locked in a coffin for half an hour, held a live scorpion in his hand, been submerged in an overturned van
  • The book DEATH COMES KNOCKING: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton that Peter is co-authoring based on long-running respect for the real police and the many years of research he has done with them
  • The haunted house that Peter lived in which partially inspired his novel THE HOUSE ON COLD HILL
  • The real character (Hayden Kelly) from Peter’s last three books who is a real guy and came up with forensic podiatry, the measurement of the unique gaits of different people

Mark then talks about the great ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) that he received from Peter’s Canadian distributor (see blog post here) as a great example of author branding and grabbing a reader or reviewer’s attention as well as another important resource that authors can rely on for digital branding:  PERSONALITY.  He uses the example of Peter’s YouTube channel and how it helped add a new layer a new dimension to Peter’s author brand, and how watching several videos of the author helped Mark, as a reader, feel connected to the author. Mark discusses the importance of that connection which can be achieved through digital mediums.