Peter James has written 35 novels and two works of non-fiction. He is best known for his Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, which began with Dead Simple in 2005 and lead to 17 consecutive Sunday Times number one bestsellers.
Peter’s talent for writing was first recognised at Charterhouse School in Surrey, where as a schoolboy he won the poetry prize in 1967. After Charterhouse, Peter attended Ravensbourne Film School in London to pursue his passion for telling stories via the silver screen. It was during this time that he landed his first film-related job – cleaning Orson Welles’ London home for ten shillings an hour!
After graduating, Peter moved to Canada and got his first job as a writer on Polka Dot Door, a daily TV show for pre-school children. He started as a gopher but was asked to write a script one day when the main writer hadn’t delivered. It was a success and Peter was promoted to writer immediately after, winning his first professional writing credit.
Peter then made an early career in the movie world, working as producer and/or writer on over 25 features as well as creating television shows for Channel 4 and ITV. He admits the low point of his film making career was the comedy, Spanish Fly, starring Terry-Thomas and Leslie Phillips, which he co-wrote and produced and was described by the critic, Barry Norman as, “The least funny British funny film ever made”. His high point was the BAFTA-nominated A Merchant of Venice, starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons. Three of his novels, Prophecy, Alchemist and Host have been filmed for television and ITV television produced the documentary, Babes In The Woods which was inspired by the non-fiction book, Death Comes Knocking that Peter co-wrote with former Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett.
Whilst still working in the film industry Peter started to write novels, the first of which, Dead Letter Drop, was published in the UK in 1981 by W. H. Allen & Co. In 1993, he made history when his 11thbook, Host, was released on floppy disk, making it the world’s first electronic novel. A copy can be found on display at the British Science Museum.
Peter novels are now published in 37 languages. Four of his stories have been adapted into highly successful stage plays: the novella The Perfect Murder, Dead Simple, Not Dead Enough and The House On Cold Hill, which had its worldwide stage debut in January 2019.
In addition to his work in the creative industries, Peter has been involved in a number of other enterprises. These include Cornelia James, his mother’s glove making company which has been by Royal Appointment to The Queen since 1978, and Pavilion Internet plc, one of the first internet service providers in the UK, which Peter co-founded in 1993 and sold to Easynet in 1998.
Peter pursues many interests in his relaxation time, including his extensive charity work. A self-confessed “petrol head”, Peter races classic cars at circuits around the country and has been a regular at the Goodwood Revival for several years. His enthusiasm remains undimmed after a surviving a horrendous high speed crash at Brands Hatch in 2013, although his publishers and his fans might prefer he took up a somewhat safer past-time – bowls, perhaps?