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Q&A: Ten Questions with Peter James

Published in the Sunday Times

Want You Dead1. What is the last thing that you read that made you laugh out loud?
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It is a book I re-read whenever I feel in need of either smiling or laughing out loud. It manages to mix so many emotions, and contains so much wonderful, simple philosophy.

2. What is the best piece of writerly advice you’ve received?
To read and re-read the successful books that you’ve loved, in the genre in which you want to write.

3. Where do you write best?
At home with a vodka martini and my music playing. But I can write absolutely anywhere.

4. What was the first novel you read?
As a child I devoured all the Biggles books, Just William, and Famous Five. My first adult novel was DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover – well, the naughty bits anyway!

5. Who is your favourite fictional hero?
I have always had a soft spot for Sherlock Holmes (the Holmes of the novel, not the TV series).

6. Which books are on your bedside table?
Deon Meyer’s 7 Days, which I am loving. Face Off, the short story anthology where 22 crime and thriller writers have had their heroes work together on cases. Practical Homicide Investigation by Vernon Geberth – not everyone’s idea of bedtime reading, especially with it hundreds of no-holds-barred crime scene photographs.

7. What are you most proud of writing?
The Roy Grace series – currently writing the 11th. Also I am very proud of my standalone Perfect People, which took me 12 years to research and write.

8. What novel would you give a child to introduce them to literature?
I remember George Orwell’s Animal Farm having an enormous impact on me – for its simplicity and accessibility and then its subtext. I think this is one book I would consider giving to a child.

9. What keeps you awake at night?
I always try to finish a chapter before I switch off for the night, so that I can go to bed thinking about the next chapter. If I wake with a thought, I have to write it down immediately, otherwise I know it will be gone in the morning …

10. How would you earn your living if you had to give up writing?
I guess I would return to producing films – although I would be very tempted to make a career as a profession touring car racing driver!

Peter James latest novel is Want You Dead (Pan Macmillan)

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