Jersey Festival of Words: Peter James, Life and Works
By David Edbrooke
BEST-SELLING thriller writer Peter James certainly goes the extra mile to carry out novel research.
For his latest thriller, Absolute Proof, he ventured to the monastic commune of Mount Athos, located on a north-western Greek peninsula. On the way, he had to convince three bearded monks he was exactly who he said he was – a man.
‘You can only get there by boat and no female has been allowed to set foot there since 960 AD,’ Peter explained to the Opera House audience during his Jersey Festival of Words talk on Friday evening.
‘You have to apply to go there and, firstly, you have to go to the monk bureau and stand in front of three elderly monks, whose beards go down to the ground, to prove you are not a female. If they question your gender, they make you drop your pants, but fortunately I didn’t need to do that.’
Absolute Proof tackles the question what would it take to prove the existence of God and, equally intriguingly, what would be the consequences?
The fraudulent faith of a billionaire evangelist, the work of a prominent atheist and the existence of the globe’s most popular religions all fall under threat in the book, which is an international ‘thriller’ in the true sense of the word, with the protagonists criss-crossing the globe.
While we can expect Absolute Proof to storm the book charts when it is released in hardback form on 4 October, it is Peter’s signature DS Roy Grace detective series that has already made him one of the world’s best-selling crime fiction authors – with more than 19 million copies sold and 12 consecutive Sunday Times number ones secured.
Peter, who revealed he has recently become patron of Crimestoppers Jersey having moved to the Island with his wife Lara in the spring, explained how he had based the character Roy Grace on one of his great friends, a police officer who he first met when the officer investigated a burglary at the author’s home in the Eighties.
He also told us how he got his own back on a fellow author who he remembers being snubbed by – Peter’s revenge was to create a character with small genitalia, and name him after the author.
And he had a message for aspiring authors everywhere: ‘Research is key’ – although he stopped short of recommending a meeting with three bearded monks.