Tag: Thrillers

Master Thriller Writer Peter James Reveals the Fascinating Inspiration Behind His Explosive New Novel, ‘Absolute Proof’, Killer Writing Tips and More!

Don’t miss your chance to win your name in a Peter James novel, signed copies of Absolute Proof and more thrilling Peter James goodies! 


 

Peter James is a literary powerhouse. One of the biggest names in thriller writing in the UK and overseas, James has won an award for either his writing or his public service almost every year since 1999. Now get ready for some big numbers. James is the author of over thirty-five books, his books have sold 19 million copies worldwide and have given him twelve consecutive UK Sunday Times number ones, as well as number ones in Germany, France, Russia and Canada, and he is also a New York Times best-seller. Not only that, but James’s books have been translated into no less than thirty-seven languages. All in a day’s work! His books have been adapted for film, TV and the stage, and he shows no signs of stopping. James is back with his explosive new novel Absolute Proof, and I was lucky enough to catch up with him and pick his brains about the book, his inspiration and what exactly is the key to a great thriller!

 

absolute proof by peter james

 

Laura-Blaise McDowell: Can you tell us where the inspiration for Absolute Proof came from?

Peter James: Basically, I had a phonecall out of the blue back in 1989, this elderly guy, who said ‘Is this Peter James the author? Thank God I found you, it’s taken me two weeks, I’ve phoned every Peter James in the phonebook, in England.’ And he said, ‘I’m not a lunatic, I was a bomber pilot in the second World War, I’m a retired university academic. I have been given absolute proof of God’s existence, and I’m told you’re the man to help me get taken seriously.’ He then went on and said, ‘my wife recently died of cancer, she was also an academic, and before she died we made an agreement that I would go to a medium and try and communicate with her, and I did this, and instead of my wife, a male came through and said he was a representative of God, and God was really concerned about the state of the world, and felt that if mankind could have faith reaffirmed, it would steer the world back on an even keel. And as proof of this, he’s given me three pieces of information that nobody knows. And he said the author Peter James is the man to help you get taken seriously.’ So that was the kind of starting point.

Long story short, I met with the guy, and he was in his seventies, very nice guy, quite obsessive, and he really believed that he’d been given this mission to save the world, and that I was the man to help him get taken seriously. He said he’d been given compass coordinates for the location of the tomb of Akhenaten, Tutankhamun’s uncle, the first monotheist, which has never been found. As well as the location of the Holy Grail and the location of the Arc of the Covenant. And I said, ‘have you looked for any of these?’ And he said, ‘yes, the Holy Grail is at a place called Chalice Well in Glastonbury.’ Now I’d never heard of Chalice Well before, but it’s a holy site on the edge of this town in Somerset called Glastonbury, which is quite a mystical place, and it’s where Joseph of Arimathea was rumored to have brought the Holy Grail containing Christ’s blood from the crucifixion, and concealed it, as it was an important relic.
He said ‘I was a pilot in the war, I can navigate, I’ve been to exact location, I’ve been looking there and I’ve been metal detecting and there’s something under the ground, and I’ve approached the trustees of Chalice Well for permission to do an archaeological dig, but they won’t take me seriously, but,’ he said ‘Mr James, I think they would take you seriously.’
Anyhow, by sheer, sheer chance the next day I had to go to Bristol which is quite near there, to do a BBC radio interview, and I was just chatting to the presenter at the end of the interview, and out of the blue she mentions Chalice Well. And I’ve always been fascinated by coincidence, and I thought, that is really strange I’ve never heard of the place until yesterday and now I’m hearing of it twice in two days, and I asked her, “What do you know about Chalice Well?” and she said “My uncle is a trustee!” So I thought, wow, I really am the Chosen One to save the world! Anyhow, I told her the story and then I left and I was so freaked out that I found a friend of mine at the time, who was the Bishop of Reading, a very modern thinking clergyman, and I met up with him a couple of days later and told him the story and I said ‘What do you think?’ and firstly he said, ‘Proof is the enemy of faith, in my view, but secondly, you’d need more than three sets of compass coordinates as proof of God.’
He said he would want something that defies the laws of physics, of the universe- a pretty major miracle. I asked him if someone could deliver that, what would happen? He replied, “I think they’d be murdered? Because whose God is it going to be? Every faction of the Anglican, Catholic, Judaic, Islamic churches would be claiming ownership, and then you’ve got atheist countries like China who wouldn’t want a higher power usurping them.” And that is when I thought yes, I have got the makings of a great international thriller here.

LBMD: Wow. It’s such a good story, and such an amazing seed for a story, because so often when writers are asked where the inspiration for a book came and they say ‘Oh, you know, I was looking out the window the a train, and it just came to me,’ this is so fascinating and intense compared to that!

 

PJ: I know!

 

LBMD: The book obviously deals with the existence or lack thereof, of a higher power, obviously a sensitive topic which is one of the key issues in the book. Have you received any backlash since its publication?

PJ: Do you know, it’s extraordinary, I haven’t, at all. I mean, I’ve been waiting for it, and I’m sure there’s going to be. Just before the book was published, the Archbishop of Canterbury heard about the book, as I did some research with some of his team, and he invited Lara my wife and I to drinks at Lambeth Palace in London and he said, ‘tell me about the book,’ so I told him and I asked him ‘What do you think would happen if there was absolute proof God existed?’ and he smiled and said ‘Well I’d be out of a job.’

But no, I haven’t had any backlash or any hate mail from anyone, but rest assured, it will come. The book’s being published around the world, including Russia, which surprised me that they would publish it, so I think there’s plenty of time yet. I did take a huge amount of trouble, and part of the reason the book took so long to write, was I felt I wanted to learn about all the world religions and didn’t want to offend any religion in the writing of it. So that was a major part of it, trying to tread a very fine line between portraying religions accurately and at the same time not being rude about any of them.

 

 

LBMD: You’ve written over 35 books, the majority of which are part of a series, including the Roy Grace series, for which you’re best known. But Absolute Proof is a rare standalone. How do you find the experience of writing a stand alone novel compares to series installments?

PJ: I love both in equal measures. I love writing my Roy Grace novels because Roy has his his kind of core team; best mate Glen Branson, very politically incorrect detective Norman Potting, who is always upsetting people, Roy’s wife who runs the mortuary in Brighton… And every time I start a new Roy Grace book it’s like sitting back down with a bunch of old friends. I’m thinking I’ll turn around and I’ll say ‘Hi Roy, how have you been? Hi Norman, how are you doing? Who have you upset this week?’ But with the Roy Grace books, because I’m a stickler for accuracy, everything I write has to be checked against what would actually happen in terms of police procedure, etcetera, not to seem pedantic in any way, but I like the idea that any police officer could read the book and go ‘yeah, that’s actually how it is.’ So the research takes a long time and I have to write a Roy Grace book every year. Whereas normally with stand alones, they’re much more free flowing. Obviously with Absolute Proof, research and understanding the world religions was critical, but after that, I could just  do what I liked. Quite strange actually after researching that book for the best part of twenty-four years, I actually wrote it in two and a half months, the fastest time I’ve actually written a book, because I just had it all in my head, and I didn’t have the constraints [of a series].

 

LBMD: Detective Superintendent Roy Grace is the character you’re best known for, and you’re a patron of the Sussex Police Charitable Trust, and have donated police cars to the Sussex Police. How much of yourself is in Roy Grace and where did your interest in policing begin?

PJ: It began back in 1981, and I’d recently got married and I had my first book published, which was a kind of not-that-great spy thriller, and we got burgled and a young detective came to take fingerprints, and he saw my book and he said ‘if you ever want research help from the police, give me a call.’ He was married to a police officer, and my then-wife and I became friendly with them, and they invited us to a barbeque at their house, and they had about a dozen friends and almost all of them were types of cops, right across the spectrum: traffic, response, homicide, and I just found them fascinating to talk to, and over the next few years we got to know them better and better and got to know more of their friends and when they realized I was genuinely interested and not just out to get a story I could sell to the newspaper, they started inviting me out on patrol! And I just began to realize, spending more and more time with these guys, that from a writer’s perspective, nobody sees more of human life in a thirty year career than a cop. That’s what really intrigued me about it, was just all the different insights to human nature that police officers get.

Then in about 1996, I was introduced to a young homicide detective called David Gaylor and he was in Brighton, and he’d been put in charge of the cold case team and we just hit it off. I was writing psychological thrillers at that point and he helped me with all the policing aspects. He rose to become the Head of Homicide for Sussex in 2002, just at the time my publishers approached me and said ‘we’d love it if you would write a series with a cop as the central character.’ So I went to Dave, and I said “How would you like to be a fictitious cop?” That was the starting point of Roy Grace. He loved the idea, and we’ve worked very closely together ever since. So when I’m preparing to write a new book, we sit down at the same table in our local pub, and we plan. I’ll write the first hundred pages and he’ll read them and tell me how Roy Grace would think and act. Over the years he’s introduced me to every facet of policing in the UK and around the world. I’ve subsequently been out many time with police in New York, Los Angeles, Russia, Germany and a number of other countries around the world.

LBMD: Your books have been adapted for stage, film and TV. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the process of seeing your work adapted, and if you have a preferred medium you like to see it adapted to?

PJ: I’ve had four of my books adapted to the stage, which I absolutely love. But I think television mini-series, today, are the way forward, and give books much more of a chance to breathe than with the time constraints of cinema. Absolute Proof is in development as a television mini-series, as is the whole Roy Grace series, and a number of my other books, so I see that as the future. 

 

LBMD: You’ve won awards either for your writing or public service almost every year since 1999. Is there a particular award that meant a lot to you?

PJ: They have all had a lot of meaning for me. I particularly love the one from W.H. Smith, which is the biggest bookselling chain in the UK, had a public vote for the best crime author of all time, and I won that. That was amazing, because that was from the public, from readers. And I think getting the Diamond Dagger award from the UK Crime Writers’ Association was a big moment because that was from my peers. Another that is really special to me was I was given an Outstanding Public Service Award by  Sussex Police.
Image Via Blake Friedmann

LBMD: What is your advice to would-be thriller writers, or aspiring writers in general?

PJ: Characters. I think that there’s an inseparable trinity in any great thriller of character, research and plot. I put them in that order deliberately, because first and foremost, we read books to find out what happens to characters we meet and engage with from the first page. They don’t have to be ‘nice’ people, but they have to engage and fascinate us. You know, Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs is not a nice character but he engages.
I put research in second position because people who read are smart. I think when we read we don’t just want to read a great story, we read because we want to learn something about human nature and the world in which we live, and I think you can tell very fast if an author doesn’t know their subject, if an author’s writing about a lawyer but they’ve clearly never sat in a lawyer’s office, or they’re writing about a gun and they’ve never held one, or someone flying a plane and they’ve never sat at the controls of a cockpit, it’s apparent. It’s understanding what you’re writing about.
Plot is obviously important, but if you don’t care about the characters, and you don’t think the author’s done their research, the plot’s not going to matter because you’re not going to read on.
So in terms of the best tips I can give you, these are:
1. Create engaging characters
2. Research every aspect you are going to write
3. Know the ending that you want to get to – I find this enormously helpful – it may change as I approach it but it gives me a vanishing point on the horizon to aim at
4. Think of a series of high points for your book – and make sure each one is bigger than the previous one
5. Write something 6 days a week – it is crucial to get into a flow – find an amount that you can write each day, whether is is 200 words or 2000 words, and rigidly stick to them because that will get you into a rhythm
And finally…
6. Have fun – if you enjoy writing that will come through in the pages!

 


Don’t miss your chance to win your name in a Peter James novel, signed copies of Absolute Proof and more thrilling Peter James goodies! 

 

Get your copy of  Absolute Proof here!

 

Follow Peter James on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and online at PeterJames.com

Top 5 Thriller Writers Taking Things to the Next Level

Master of Suspense, Sir Alfred Hitchcock once said “There is no terror in the bang, only in the anticipation of it,” and while there are countless authors seeking to instill in their readers the terror and anticipation of which Hitchcock spoke, there are only some who really stand out, who take risks and elevate the art of thrilling readers. Here are the top five thriller writers who are taking things to the next level.

 

1. Peter James

 

Image Via The Real Spy

 

One of the biggest names in thriller writing in the UK and Ireland, Peter James is about to hit the US, and you better be ready. Having received his first writing accolade in school, this murder mystery powerhouse has won coveted awards almost every year since 1999, and doesn’t show signs of stopping. Brace yourself for some big numbers: James is best known as the author of the Roy Grace series, which is comprised of nineteen books and counting, and has sold a cool 19 million copies worldwide, as well as earning him the number one spots in countries including the UK, Canada, Russia and Germany and being translated into thirty-seven languages. It doesn’t stop there. James has over twenty additional novels under his belt, as well as a non-fiction book, Death Comes Knocking: Policing Roy Grace’s Brighton, and has also been involved in the making of no less than twenty-six movies including A Different Loyalty, starring Sharon Stone and The Bridge of San Luis Rey, starring Robert De Niro. All in a day’s work.

 

James’s latest contribution to the world of thriller writing is his exciting new novel Absolute Proof. What would you do if someone told you they had absolute proof of God’s existence? That is the question posed by James in what Lee Child has called “the best what-if thriller since The Da Vinci Code.” Investigative journalist Ross Hunter receives the following phone call that will change his life forever…

 

‘I’d just like to assure you I’m not a nutcase, Mr Hunter. My name is Dr Harry F. Cook. I know this is going to sound strange, but I’ve recently been given absolute proof of God’s existence – and I’ve been advised there is a writer, a respected journalist called Ross Hunter, who could help me to get taken seriously.’

 

“What would it take to prove the existence of God? And what,” asks James, “would be the consequences? The false faith of a billionaire evangelist, the life’s work of a famous atheist, and the credibility of each of the world’s major religions are all under threat. If Ross Hunter can survive long enough to present the evidence…”

Don’t miss your chance to win your name in a Peter James novel, signed copies of Absolute Proof and more thrilling Peter James goodies! 

2. Paula Hawkins

 

Image Via Daily Express

 

You’re probably familiar with Paula Hawkins’ phenomenon The Girl on the Train, which was made into a crazy-successful film starring Emily Blunt. But can you fathom how successful the book was, even without the film? The Girl on the Train debuted at number one on The New York Times Bestsellers list, where it spent thirteen consecutive weeks. In its first year, the book sold well over 1.5 million copies, and occupied the number one spot of the UK hardback book chart for twenty weeks, the longest any book has ever held the top spot.

 

The Girl on the Train was the first book she published as Paula Hawkins, however it was not her first published work. She wrote several romance novels under the pseudonym Amy Silver, as well as a financial advice book for women entitled The Money Goddess. Her second book as Hawkins, Into the Water, had a lot to live up to, however also became a bestseller and in February 2017, before it was first published, DreamWorks’ parent Amblin Partners purchased the film rights, with La La Land‘s Mark Platt and Jared LeBoff as producers. If you’ve seen The Girl on the Train film, you’ll be excited for this. As USA Today notes, “Hawkins, influenced by Hitchcock, has a cinematic eye and an ear for eerie, evocative language.”

 

3. Tana French

 

Image Via Oprah.com

 

A favorite author of none other than Stephen King, Irish-American author Tana French is best known for her Dublin Detectives series, which follows the homicide detectives of Dublin as they investigate strange and unusual crimes around Ireland. Her best book (in this writer’s opinion) is The Secret Place, an absolutely stunning mixture of thriller, bildungsroman, murder mystery and, unexpectedly, but so well executed, magic surrealism that will keep you entirely hooked until the end. The combination of themes and genres she weaves together really sets her apart, and ensures that no two of her novels bear much similarity to one another, beyond their consistently gripping plots, believable characters and, as King would have it, ‘incandescent’ prose.

 

Her latest offering, The Witch Elm, described by the New York Times as “her most intricately nuanced novel yet” follows a young man who goes to his dying uncle’s home to recover from an attack that left him near dead. However when a skull is unearthed beneath a tree on the house’s grounds, family secrets come to the surface.

 

 

4. Jessica Knoll

 

Image Via WWD

Image Via WWD

Jessica Knoll is an author who hit the big time straight off the mark. Her debut thriller Luckiest Girl Alive became an instant New York Times bestseller, selling 450,000 copies, and remaining on best-seller lists for four months. It was then optioned for film by Lionsgate, with none other than Reese Witherspoon set to produce. And all this for good reason; Knoll has also become a voice for survivors of sexual assault, having opened up about the gang-rape she suffered when she was fifteen, which informed Luckiest Girl Alive. Her willingness to be candid and open about her experiences has no doubt helped and inspired many survivors, and she is undoubtedly taking things to the next level with her brave, unflinching writing and honesty.

 

Apart from her literary success, over the course of her career Knoll has held the position of senior editor at Cosmopolitan and the articles editor at Self, which are incredibly impressive roles in themselves. Her second novel, The Favorite Sister, dubbed “deliciously savage and wildly entertaining”by People Magazine who named it their Book of the Week, also sat happily on bestseller lists around the world following its release in May 2018. By the following month, a TV adaptation from the producers of Big Little Lies had been announced.

 

5. Stuart Turton

 

Image Via The National

 

Despite having only one book out, what a book it is! Turton’s debut, The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a high-concept thriller that has already been optioned for TV! Described as “Cluedo meets The Matrix meets Agatha Christie meets the reinvention of Sherlock Holmes as a TV series”, Evelyn Hardcastle follows an amnesiac who finds himself caught in a Groundhog Day-style game of real life Cluedo, in which he relives the death of Evelyn Hardcastle from the various perspectives of the potential culprits every day. As you can imagine, the book is doing rather well.

 

Following its appearance on the Sunday Times Bestseller list, it went on to win the Books Are My Bag Novel Award 2018, as well as being shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018. As if that wasn’t enough, it made it onto various Must Read Books of 2018 lists, including those of Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire. But it wasn’t even all of this praise that led to the next big thing for Turton. Before the book was even released, the TV rights were optioned by House Productions. Phew!

 

 

Lee Child cameo in 'Jack Reacher'

Did You Notice These Authors in Their On-Screen Movie Cameos?

Just this past weekend, during the annual thriller-writers conference, Thrillerfest, authors R.L. Stine, Lee Child, David Morrell, Heather Graham, and George R.R. Martin had a chance to sit together and discuss social media, their struggles as they strived for success, some of the stranger things fans have said to them during meet-and-greets, and more.

 

Three of the wordsmiths even decided to delve on into the world of Hollywood and discuss the quirks, fumbles, and just all-around generalized awkwardness that can come with doing a cameo-appearance in your own book-to-film adaptation (it was exactly everything you’d expect and oh, so much more)!

 

 

 

Author of all things spooky, R.L. Stine, had initially wondered if he should maybe just play himself in the 2015 film adaptation of Goosebumps! However, after a bit of disagreement from his fans (and his wife), he decided a short cameo within the film would be more than enough to satiate his hunger to be on screen. In the original script, Stine (who plays the Vice Principal in the school where the film-version of Stine teaches) was set to stand on-stage and hand one of the lead children a trophy.

 

I told the director I needed a line and he said, ‘okay…say something!’ so I handed the kid the trophy and said, ‘Congratulations, sonny!’

 

 

 

Popular Thriller writer and author of the Jack Reacher series, Lee Child, said that after he’s been given a script and asked to choose which scene he’d like a cameo in, he always chooses a scene essential to the plot that he knows cannot wind up on the cutting room floor. He also went on to describe the strange sort of feeling that comes along with meeting a character of your own creaton.

 

The production team thought me handing him the toothbrush would be like me, the creator of this character, passing the baton onto Tom Cruise…

 

 

George R.R. Martin Cameo

Image via PJ Wetzel

 

The legendary creator of the entire Game of Thrones franchise, George R.R. Martin, spoke about his cameo in his 1987 television-series, Beauty and the Beast. According to Martin, he assumed the cameo would be the perfect opportunity to plug his new book whilst eating a free cheeseburger or two. However he had no idea that the scene would take hours upon hours to shoot (and cheeseburgers upon cheeseburgers eaten).

 

These weren’t Shake Shack, or even McDonalds…I’m talking the twenty-four pack of microwavable cheeseburgers…so if you’re going to be a featured extra make sure you’re doing something your okay with doing ninety times in a row.

 

 

via GIPHY

 

 

 

 

Featured Image via Digital Spy

 

james rollins

‘Subterranean’ Author James Rollins Owes His Career to Life Coach Tony Robbins

During an interview at the annual four-day conference of bestselling thriller-authors from all across the globe, Thrillerfest, acclaimed science fiction and action author James Rollins admitted that his career may not have begun exactly as he’s stated in the past…

 

I reached my thirtieth birthday and thought, ‘well, if I really want to be a writer than I’d better start now,’ and that’s exactly what I did…google that story, you’ll see me tell it. I tell that story all the time…and it’s a lie!

 

Rollins then went on to explain that one night, around two AM, he was dolling out the payroll for the employees at his veterinary clinic, and was slightly delirious with fatigue. In the background, infomercials were playing on the television, that would alter the course of his life forever:

 

A booming voice asked me if I was ready to change my life…I turned toward the TV and started nodding…

 

As it turns out, that booming voice of God actually belonged to none other than infamous life coach, Tony Robbins

 

So, Rollins did what any lost soul during the late-nighties would do; he ordered all forty of Tony Robbins cassette tapes.

 

The first tape said to take out a sheet of paper, forget everything you know about your life, close your eyes, and write down what you want to do…I wrote ‘I want to write a novel.’

 

Rollins flipped the tape over and Robbins’s voice was soon urging him to take that one, first step toward achieving that dream…and that’s exactly what he did!

 

So yes, I owe my career to Tony Robbins.

 

And, thus James Rollins began etching away at what would one-day become his breakout novel, Subterranean

 

Subterranean

Image via Amazon

 

I’ve had no formal training in writing…I joined a a writing critique group in Sacramento and, to this day, they still read all of my work before my editor does.”

 

It took Rollins just eleven months to finish his first novel. He then shopped the book around; sending the manuscript to one literary agent after the next.

 

And, much like nearly every other successful artist in the history of time, Rollins received rejection after rejection after rejection; forty-nine literary agents turned down his work.

 

One agent was kind enough to take the time and leave me a handwritten note on the manuscript, however…he wrote ‘this is unpublishable’.

 

Still, Rollins didn’t let these rejections deter him from his goal, and, luckily enough, the fiftieth agent he sent Subterranean to said yes, and the book became a wildly popular success!

 

It just goes to prove that all you truly need to succeed is perseverance, a steady community of support, the belief in your work (and yourself), and the booming voice of Tony Robbins.

 

Don’t tell Tony Robbins that…pretty soon he’ll be asking me for royalties!

 

Via Tenor

Via Tenor

 

Featured Image via Similar Authors Like

bjkn

Did You Notice Claire Foy’s Accent in ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’ Trailer?

The first trailer for the newest installment in the late Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo franchise, The Girl in the Spider’s Web has dropped. The two minute and thirty second trailer revealed the style and tone for the newest addition, introducing Claire Foy as the cunning Lisbeth Salander. 

 

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Image Via People

 

Spider’s Web is the first film in the series to be based off a novel not written by Larsson, (the book was penned by David Lagercrantz,) and the first to star Claire Foy as Salander. The story follows Salander as she deals with her past while confronting a web of spies, cyber criminals, and corrupt government officials. 

 

Best known for her role as Queen Elizabeth in Netflix’s The Crown, Claire Foy in Spider’s Web is a deep departure from her previous prim and proper appearances, but also showcased her talents in a multitude of accents including Russian, English, and Swedish.

 

 

 

In the trailer, Foy starts out strong with an accent that’s a mix of English and Swedish. She then pulls out all the stops when she throws cards at the captured abuser, showcasing her magnificent Russian accent. Throughout the trailer, she rotates between all three accents, giving us her full range of accented abilities. Which is like, not what I think the most memorable aspect of the trailer is meant to be, but that’s life eh?

 

The film is set to be released into theaters on November 9, 2018. 

 

Featured Image Via Empire.