Born: Brighton, Sussex, England
My mother, Cornelia James (d.)1999 was Glovemaker to Her Majesty the Queen running the business with my late father who was a chartered accountant. The firm is today run by my sister, Genevieve and her husband, and still supplies the Royal Family: www.corneliajames.com. There is a tenuous but classy link between gloves and one particularly great writer (not that I would dare put myself in his league): Shakespeare’s father was a glove maker!
I lived for 10 years in a very haunted Georgian manor house, near Ditchling, Sussex. It was converted from a monastery built on the site of Roman ruins, and had the ghost of a Centurion, a monk, a baby and a nasty, man-hating grey lady! Then moved to a group of converted farm buildings on a historic site outside Lewes, which were occupied by a whole bunch of ghosts of victims of the Battle of Lewes, but they were politely evicted. My Sussex home is now a Victorian rectory and so far ghost-free, as is my apartment in Notting Hill, London, on the site of a former cinema. No spectral screenings yet during the night, but always hoping…
In 1994, in addition to conventional print publishing, Penguin published my novel, Host, on two floppy discs, and it is now in the Science Museum as the world’s first electronic novel. It caused huge controversy, I was pilloried on the Radio 4 Today Programme for attempting to destroy the novel, and I was front page news on many papers around the globe, all equally furious! In the immediate following years I became a media spokesperson for the electronic publishing age, and in 1996 found myself as a keynote speaker at a conference at UCLA on the future of reading, alongside (gulp) Steve Jobs and the CEO of Time Warner!
I do – and enjoy – regular after-dinner speaking engagements. Recent engagements include the County Times Business Awards dinner, the Association of Legal Aid Solicitors’ dinner, the Association of Private Investigators’ annual dinner, the Sussex CID Ball, the Pan Macmillan Sales Conference dinner in Agra, India, the Martlets Hospice luncheon, the Lewes Rotary Club dinner, Brighton & Hove Rotary lunch, the Sussex Heritage Trust dinner, the Brighton and Hove Motor Club dinner dance. In addition I have given numerous speeches on cruise ships, and at literary festivals around the globe, including Dubai, Munich, Paris, Melbourne, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Antwerp, Toronto, Auckland, Milan, Barcelona, Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
Charterhouse, then Ravensbourne Film School.
I have a huge love of animals. Current headcount includes Oscar, a rescue Labrador/something cross who was found abandoned on the streets of Havant,
Spook, a young labradoodle who is very bouncy and tries her very best to please,
Cosmo, a grey cat who has the dogs well under his control and even comes on walks with us.
Six hens, including two that we reared from pre-fertilised eggs after the original hens went broody, and one that we adopted from a friend, called Betsy, who is a real character and gives us great eggs!
We have recently added five gorgeous alpacas to our expanding zoo, they are such inquisitive animals and we just love them!
Then there is a selection of small furries and fish… indoor tropical fish and some huge carp outside in the lake.
My first car was a 1929 Rolls Royce hearse. Among the favourites I have owned are a 1961 MGA 1600, a 1966 Mini Cooper S, a 1972 drophead Boss engined Mustang, a 1963 fixed head 3.8 Jaguar E-Type, a 1971 drophead V12 E-Type (the sixth one built) a 1986 BMW M5, a 1997 Aston Martin DB7,
…As well as Science, Medicine & the Paranormal are my principal interests above all else. I spend a lot of time with police forces on my research, in particular Sussex Police – and I have now donated two police cars to them. The first in 2008
I’m useless, although I once played four rounds in one day for a bet for charity (and won!). Have given my name to “The Peter James Golf Classic” an annual charity golf day at Haywards Heath Golf Club, Sussex, in aid of Action Medical Research, now in its 5th year. We have to date raised over £65,000 – and it means I get to play one game a year!
I run seven days a week, between 2-5 miles.
One of my maddest passions is motor racing. I passed my ARDS British racing drivers licence test back in 2004 (after failing at the first attempt and scaring the instructor witless when I spun a Lotus Elise at 110mph on Copse corner at Silverstone). Some friends called it yet another of my many mid-life crises! Some, less charitably, said it demonstrated that I would do just about anything to promote my books! But all of them were united when they saw the car I was racing. They said, a What??? I began my motor racing in a 2CV Citroen
I used to own a Second World War Mitchell B25 bomber. It is now permanently housed at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Skiing: Was selected to train for the British Olympic ski team when I was 15, but my parents, (probably very wisely), felt it would be too disruptive to my education. I still ski a lot.
Is my favourite sport, I love singles and doubles and try to play regularly.
I write a monthly restaurant column for Sussex Life Magazine. I’ve always been passionately interested in both food and wine, and writing this column gives me a great opportunity to explore restaurants of Brighton, as well as the county of Sussex and further afield – and sometimes to say what I jolly well think about them!
Holiday job at 16 as assistant to Jack Tinker, the late, great theatre critic, who was then the film critic on the Brighton Evening Argus. The highlight of this was when Jack phoned in sick and told me I had to go and see the press screening of In Search Of The Castaways the new movie starring the then massively famous teenage Hayley Mills and then interview her afterwards. I was nervous as hell, took along a notepad into which I scribbled illegibly, pretending I was doing shorthand! She was very sweet to me.
Orson Welles’ house cleaner. (Really!). Needed money when I was at film school and got a job cleaning Orson Welles’ London home for ten shillings an hour.
1971-78: Full time involvement through jointly-owned production company, Quadrant Films, in writing, producing, financing and distributing movies, mostly in Canada and US. These included:
We also had substantial involvement in:
I sold my shareholding in Quadrant in 1979 to concentrate on a career as a novelist, with my first novel, a spy thriller ‘Dead Letter Drop’ published in 1981. From then on until 2005 when I decided to devote my time entirely to being a full-time novelist, (covered in detail in this website) I divided my time between writing my novels, an involvement in several businesses, including my family business, Cornelia James, and writing and developing film and television, before going back into production itself.
From 1980-1985 I bought the rights to all 93 Biggles books and was very involved in bringing to the screen Biggles (Peter Cushing, Alex Hyde-White, dir. John Huff) in 1985. The film had a Royal Premiere in the presence of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
In 1993 I co-founded Pavilion Internet plc, one of the first Internet Service Providers in the UK, which we sold to Easynet in 1998.
Began in Canada, 1970, writing daily 1/2 hour tv programme for pre-schoolers, Polka Dot Door. Graduated to writing science programmes, particularly computing and space exploration, then started own film company, Quadrant Films, which became Canada’s largest independent feature film production company during the 1970s.
In 1997, together with producer and music writer James Simpson (most famed for his No 1 hit, The Chicken Song in the smash hit TV show Spitting Image) I co-founded Ministry of Vision Ltd, a film and television development company. We made the 10-part series Hypnosex, for Channel Four, and in partnership with Objective Television, the 6-part Rose D’Or nominated series Bedsitcom, also for Channel 4, and in partnership with Sony, the 10-episode series Time Travellers for network ITV.
A news cutting I sent to Private Eye in 1965 about US inventor Reuben Tice, who was killed when a machine he had invented for de-wrinkling prunes exploded.
In 2001 I co-founded Movision Entertainment Limited and was Managing Director until the end of February 2005. Movision produced thirteen films on which I am an Executive Producer, with a combined budget of $300m:
To find out more about my novels, take a look in the books section of this site.