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Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

I am thrilled to announce today's guest blog - I've been hooked on PETER ROBINSON'S fantastic Inspector Banks series for years! Although he's best known for this series, he also writes wonderful stand-alones. If you haven't read any of his books, you're in for a treat! 

 

His website is here: http://www.inspectorbanks.com/

 

 

I thought this was really interesting:

 

Peter Was the Most Borrowed Author of 2011 at the RNIB

 

The RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) published the name ofthe most borrowed author of 2011: Peter Robinson. It turns out that Peter’s Innocent Graves topped the list of the most borrowed audiobooks, and a total of 7 of Peter’s books were in the top 100, with Inspector Banks taking 3 of the top 10 slots.

 

Peter is delighted that all readers – those who read on paper, and those with visual deficiencies – enjoy his books, and he was particularly happy to see how popular his books are with the RNIB.


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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

Before the Poison to Be Released in the US on February 7

P

 

Before the Poison  

 

Peter’s latest novel, Before the Poisonwill be released in hardcover in the US on February 7.

 

This best-selling book looks at a crime that occurred more than 50 years ago.

 

Grace Fox poisoned her husband in January, 1953. Or did she? Though she was tried for murder and subsequently hanged, Grace remained a silent and enigmatic figure to the very end.

 

When Chris Lowe returns to his native Yorkshire to live in the isolated Kilnsgate House nearly sixty years later, in the wake of his wife’s untimely death, he wants only to be left alone to compose his piano sonata after years of soul-destroying, though lucrative, work writing film scores.

 

Soon, however, as he learns the troubled history of Kilnsgate, he becomes fascinated by Grace’s story. The more he discovers about her life and her work as a Queen Alexandra’s nurse during the war, the more certain he becomes that she couldn’t have murdered her husband.

 

As Chris searches for other explanations of what might have happened on that snow-bound January night, through rumours of half-glimpsed figures, mysterious strangers and a missing letter, his quest to prove Grace’s innocence becomes entangled with his own need to sift through the ruins and loose ends of his own life in search of some kind of meaning and order, and his new relationship with local estate agent Heather Barlow.

 

Alternating between a contemporary account of Grace’s trial, her wartime journals of Dunkirk, Singapore and Normandy, and Chris’s quest for the truth, Before the Poison is a suspenseful exploration of guilt, self-sacrifice and redemption, moving inexorably towards a revelation that, when it is uncovered, will prove shattering and surprising both to Chris and to the reader.

 

Read an excerpt of the book here.

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

[ Edited ]

 

 

 

About Peter


Peter Robinson was born in Yorkshire. After getting his BA Honours Degree in English Literature at the University of Leeds, he came to Canada and took his MA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor, with Joyce Carol Oates as his tutor, then a PhD in English at York University. He has taught at a number of Toronto community colleges and universities and served as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Windsor, 1992-93.

 

His first novel, Gallows View (1987), introduced Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks. It was short-listed for the John Creasey Award in the UK and the Crime Writers of Canada best first novel award. A Dedicated Man followed in 1988 and was short-listed for the CWC’s Arthur Ellis Award. A Necessary End and The Hanging Valley, both Inspector Banks novels, followed in 1989, and the latter was nominated for an Arthur. Both received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly in the US.

 

Caedmon’s Song, the first departure from the series, was published in 1990 and was also nominated for an Arthur. (It was reissued in the UK by Macmillan in September, 2003, and was published for the first time in the US by Avon Dark Passage in September, 2004, as The First Cut.)

 

The fifth Inspector Banks novel, Past Reason Hated, won the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel in 1992. The sixth, Wednesday’s Child, was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Final Account (UK Dry Bones that Dream) appeared in 1994 and won an Author’s Award from the Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters in 1995.

 

The eighth Inspector Banks novel, Innocent Graves (1996) was picked as one of Publishers Weekly’s best mysteries of 1996 and selected as “page-turner of the week” by People magazine. Innocent Graves was also nominated for a Hammett Award for “literary excellence in the field of crime writing” by the International Association of Crime Writers, and won the author his second Arthur Ellis Award for best novel.

 

In a Dry Season, the tenth in the series, won the Anthony and Barry awards for best novel and was nominated for the Edgar, Hammett, Macavity and Arthur Ellis Awards. In 2001, it also won France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award. It was also a New York Times “notable book” of 1999.

 

The next book Cold is the Grave, won the Arthur Ellis Award and was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Award. In 2006 it won the Danish Palle Rosenkrantz Award. Aftermath appeared in 2002 and made the top ten in both the UK and Canadian bestseller lists, where it reached number one.

 

In 2002, Robinson was awarded the “Dagger in the Library” by the CWA. The thirteenth Banks novel, The Summer that Never Was (US Close to Home), appeared on the New York Times expanded bestseller list in February, 2003, and on both the UK and Canadian bestseller lists and was nominated for an Arthur Ellis and an Anthony award.

 

Playing with Fire, published in January, 2004, was nominated for both the Arthur Ellis and Hammett awards. Strange Affair (January, 2005) was nominated for Arthur Ellis and a Macavity awards.

 

The books have been translated into nineteen languages. Piece of My Heart appeared in 2006, and in 2007, Friend of the Devil reached Number One in the Sunday Times hardcover bestseller list. In January, 2008, Robinson was presented with the Celebrates Reading Award by the Toronto Libraries.

 

Robinson has also published many short stories. “Innocence” won the CWC Best Short Story Award, 1991. “The Two Ladies of Rose Cottage,” which appeared in Malice Domestic 6, edited by Anne Perry, in April 1997, won the Macavity Award and was nominated for both the Agatha and Arthur Ellis awards. It was also performed, with music and songs by Eliza Carthy, at the Beverley Folk Festival, Yorkshire, in 2006.

 

His first collection of short stories, Not Safe After Dark and Other Stories, was published in 1998 by Crippen & Landru. An expanded version, including the Banks novella “Going Back”, was published by McClelland & Stewart in Canada and Macmillan in the UK in September, 2004. “Murder in Utopia” won Robinson his fifth Ellis Award in 2001, and the same year “Missing in Action” won the Edgar Award.

 

In 2007, Robinson edited the The Penguin Book of Crime Stories, which was published to great critical acclaim. His most recent stories appear in The Blue Religion, a Mystery Writers of America anthology edited by Michael Connelly, and Toronto Noir, published by Akashic Books and edited by Janine Armin and Nathaniel G. Moore.

 

The nineteenth Inspector Banks novel, All the Colours of Darkness, will appear in the UK in August, 2008, in Canada in October, 2008, and in the USA in February, 2009.

Robinson now divides his time between Toronto and Richmond, North Yorkshire. In 2006 he was invited to join The Detection Club.

 

Peter’s books have received the following awards:

 

1990 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story – “Innocence”
1991 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel – Past Reason Hated
1994 TORGI Talking Book Award – Past Reason Hated
1995 Author’s Award, Foundation for the Advancement of Canadian Letters – Final Account
1996 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel – Innocent Graves
1998 Macavity Award for Best Short Story – “The Two Ladies of Rose Cottage”
1999 Anthony Award for Best Novel – In a Dry Season
1999 Barry Award for Best Novel – In a Dry Season
2000 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel – Cold is the Grave
2000 Arthur Ellis Award for Best Short Story – “Murder in Utopia”
2000 Edgar Award for Best Short Story – “Missing in Action”
2001 Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (France) – In a Dry Season
2002 Martin Beck Award (Sweden) – In a Dry Season
2002 CWA (UK) Dagger in The Library Award
2003 Spoken Word Bronze Award – The Hanging Valley
2006 Palle Rosenkrantz Award (Denmark) – Cold is the Grave
2008 Toronto Public Library Celebrates Reading Award

 

 

Peter’s books have been translated into the following languages:


French
German
Italian
Spanish
Portuguese
Czech
Polish
Estonian
Dutch
Hebrew
Swedish
Norwegian
Finnish
Danish
Brazilian Portuguese
Japanese
Chinese
Thai
Romanian

 

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

Frequently Asked Questions

 

When will the DCI Banks TV adaptations be on in my country?

 

I have no idea. I only find out about them when they are just about to be broadcast. Whenever I do find out more, I will post something on the blog.

 

When will the next Inspector Banks novel be released?

 

The next Inspector Banks novel will be released in August, 2012, in the UK, and later in the US, Canada and other countries.

 

Is there a specific town or city that provided the inspiration for Eastvale?

 

Eastvale is modelled on North Yorkshire towns such as Ripon and Richmond, with cobbled maket squares, rather than the kind with one main high street, like Northalleron or Thirsk. I had to make it much larger than those towns, of course, otherwise who would believe there could be that many murders? I’ve probably killed the population of the Yorkshire Dales three times over as it is! Anyway, Eastvale continues to grow, and the great thing is that I can add new areas of the town that I have never mentioned before, such as The Maze in Friend of the Deviland The Heights in All the Colours of Darkness .

 

In location, I have taken a few more liberties and placed Eastvale a little north of Ripon, but still reasonably close to the A1. When Banks has to get there fast from central Leeds, he can do it in a little under three-quarters of an hour if he puts his foot down. The surrounding countryside and villages are an amalgam of several dales, particularly Wensleydale and Swaledale. I based Helmthorpe and Gratly on Hawes and Gayle, for example, and Lyndgarth on Reeth. Though I have changed names and locations, I know where all my fictional places really are.

 

What is No Cure for Love and where can I get it?

 

No Cure for Love is a non-series novel I wrote in 1994 and published in 1995. For a description of the general storyline, go to the book’s page. Suffice it to say here that the book is set mostly in Los Angeles and features a British actress in a TV crime drama being stalked, and the detective from the LAPD Threat Management Unit who tries to help her. Why did I write it? I wrote out of a long-time fascination with Los Angeles, from the movies of my childhood and adolescence to the novels of Raymond Chandler.

 

I also thought the subject of stalking, big at the time, was an interesting one and hadn’t been dealt with in crime fiction yet. (I often think that, then find out there are ten novels on the same theme written years ago. Is there really anything new under the sun?) The novel was published only in Canada, where it was a dismal flop. I guess people just didn’t want to read Peter Robinson writing about Los Angeles.

 

I am, however, very happy with it, and it remains one of my personal favourites, not least because I felt I was writing in a foreign language. As far as I know, the book is not out of print. Penguin Canada usually keep a few copies of the paperback circulating in the bookstores. Your best bet would be to visit Sleuth of Baker Street.

 

Why are some of your books published under different titles in the UK, Canada and the USA?

 

The short answer is, “I don’t know.” Usually a title comes early to me, and I’ve lived with it for a long time when the book is finished, so I have become quite attached to it. Changing it is like changing your one-year-old’s name. But Sales and Marketing, in their infinite wisdom, have great foreknowledge about which titles will sell books and which won’t, as you can see from their track record, and the amount of pressure they can put on a writer, usually through his or her editor, can be quite excruciating.

 

Basically, resistance is futile. This problem seems particularly to affect British authors published in the USA, who all have sad tales to tell. Though the information is available elsewhere on this site—and you should always check before you buy—in a nutshell, Dry Bones that Dream became Final Account everywhere other than in the UK; Dead Right became Blood at the Root in the USA; The Summer that Never Was became Close to Home in the USA; and Caedmon’s Song became The First Cut.

 

To add to the confusion, there are two version of Not Safe After Dark. The British and Canadian editions (2004) contain several stories and a previously unpublished Banks novella that do not appear in the earlier (1998) Crippen & Landru edition.

 

Is Annie Cabbot really a vegetarian?

 

Sometimes. As has been pointed out to me ad nauseam, Annie has been known to eat coq au vin in one book (though it was changed toratatouille in some editions) and a potted meat sandwich in another. In the forthcoming All the Colours of Darkness she is still struggling with her vegetarianism, and I do believe at one point she contemplates a particularly juicy and rare piece of rump steak topped with a slice of lightly sautéed foie gras.

 

How do people get hold of mobile phones, laptop computers, DVDs and CDs in 1969 in Piece of my Heart?

 

They don’t, and if you think they do, you’ve missed the one little clue that appears at the head of the first Banks scene in all but the British editions: “October 2005.” It doesn’t appear before every Banks or Annie scene, true, but it does appear before the first one.

 

I realise this is a problem that usually affects mostly people who start with Piece of my Heart and don’t already know that Banks was only about 17 in 1969, but really, folks, why would you continue reading a book by an author you think is so stupid that he doesn’t know there were no mobile phones, Internet or DVD players in 1969?

 

If I notice an error in one of your books, should I send you an email and let you know about it?

 

The best thing to do would be to get in touch with the publisher of that specific edition, who is in a position to make changes in future editions. The publisher’s address usually appears on the copyright page at the front of the book.

 

In which order should I read the books?

 

The Books page lists all the books in reverse chronological order, with publication dates. If you want to read all the books, start with the oldest and work your way up the list.

 

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

Peter Robinson signing books in Los Angeles

 

Peter (third from left) with Michael Connelly, Paula Woods and T. Jefferson Parker, signing The Blue Religion at the Borders booth of the L.A. Times Festival of Books, in April, 2008.

 

Peter Robinson and Judy Collins

 

Peter with Judy Collins at the now, sadly, closed New York bookstore, Black Orchid, 2005

 

Peter Robinson and Stephen King

 

With Stephen King at the Middle Temple Inn, London, to celebrate the publication of Lisey’s Story in November, 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WRITING BEFORE THE POISON

 

by Peter Robinson


 

On a walk near Richmond, North Yorkshire a couple of years ago, I came across a small, secluded dale I had never seen before. Two of its features that intrigued me the most were an old house surrounded by an overgrown garden and half-obscured by trees, and a disused lime kiln,  a small dome built of limestone blocks, like the top of an egg sticking out of the daleside. This had been used for burning limestone to make quicklime centuries ago, but had fallen into disuse when the production of quicklime became industrialised.

 

It was very difficult to tell whether the house was inhabited, and I found myself imagining who might have live, or have lived, there, and what interesting things might have happened in it over the years. It was an eerie and isolated place, and it wasn’t hard to imagine an eye peering through a gap in a boarded-up window, and the sound of a chainsaw starting up. I changed the  appearance of the house a bit, made it larger and more grand,  and came up with Kilnsgate House, the setting for much of Before the Poison, from before the Second World War right up to the present day.

 

Since writing the DCI Banks novel In a Dry Season and the short story “Missing in Action,” I have been interested in using Second World War narratives as part of a larger story. My father served in the RAF., and I was born a few years after the war ended, so it always seemed to cast a long shadow over my childhood. We still had ration books, for example, and one of the last things to go off the list was sweets. I remember exploring bomb sites and looking for bits of shrapnel or shell casings as a child, and I had fighter and bomber identification charts pinned on my bedroom walls.

 

The Second World War is also a subject I read about quite a lot, and I found myself so impressed by Nicola Tyrer’s book Sisters in Arms, which tells the story of the Queen Alexandra’s nurses in the Second World War, that I wanted to give my historical character, Grace Fox, exactly that sort of background. Though they seem to be a mere footnote in most histories, the QAs, as they were known, showed remarkable courage and dedication, and many lost their lives. I chose Singapore as the most important posting for my QA, Grace Fox, and she was there when it fell in early 1942. I even made a visit there and went to see the old Changi Prison, the Straits of Johor, over which the Japanese invaded, and the Kranji War Memorial, where the QAs are commemorated along with the rest of the people who died there.

 

Every novel needs mystery and suspense, and here I derive much of that from Chris Lowndes, a recently-widowed composer of film music, living in Kilnsgate House in the present, trying to solve the mystery of Grace Fox, who was hanged for the murder of her husband in 1953.  (And that gives nothing away, as her execution forms the first scene in the book!)

 

I had been reading John Mortimer’s selection of Famous Trials, which are not transcripts or journalistic accounts, but dramatic recreations of famous crimes and trials. I was particularly moved by the case of Alma Rattenbury, who was acquitted of murdering her husband, while her young lover, George Stoner, was sentenced to death but given a life sentence for it. Rattenbury was driven to suicide by the public and the press soon after her release; believing that Stoner was to be hanged, she sat beside a tributary of the River Avon and stabbed herself  in the chest six times. The knife pierced her heart three times.

 

The Ruth Ellis case was also moving. Ellis emptied a revolver into her unfaithful lover, David Blakely, outside The Magdala public house in Hampstead, and was the last woman to be hanged in England,  in 1955.

 

These cases seemed to contain all the scandal and high drama that a good murder trial needs, and the first was the subject of Terence Rattigan’s play Cause Célèbre, while the second gave rise to Mike Newell’s film Dance With a Stranger, though a slightly more interesting, but more fictionalised, version of the Ruth Ellis story appears in Yield to the Night (U.S. title, Blonde Sinner), starring Diana Dors, in probably one of the best roles of her career. The interesting point to me about the Famous Trials accounts is that in every case the author was often very much a man of his times and could not help but represent the moral tenor of the period.

 

A short while into writing the book, I visited HMP Leeds, a grim dark-stone 19th century building with the look of a medieval fortress, in order to give a talk to the prisoners about writing. This was followed by a “grand tour,” which took in the old execution shed and condemned cell. Sitting alone in that dank, bare room where so many people had spent the last night of their lives was more than enough to set my imagination to work. My guide also pointed out a high window across the courtyard and told me that used to the hangman’s apartment, where Pierrepoint or whoever it happened to be, stayed on the night before the execution.

 

In the end, I had three distinct narratives: Chris’s story, set in the present day and told in the first person; a contemporary account of Grace’s trial in 1953 in the spirit of those accounts I had read in Famous Trials; and several extracts from Grace’s wartime journal between 1940 and 1945. It was a lot of material, and shaping it and making it all fit together was a tough job, but it was also a labour of love, and I do hope you enjoy the result.

Peter Robinson

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

Note: With guest blogs, I leave it up to the author if they will visit with us. I'm not sure if he will be joining us, but I've given this link to his publisher so he will be able to read your comments. Thanks!

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

Hi, Peter, wonderful blog! You put a lot of effort into creating your books through picturing old houses and turning them into grand ones. I've never read any of the series but they all sound good and I will definitely buy a book or two to start.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

In a Dry Season (Inspector Alan Banks Series #10)  

 

 

This one, especially, really stuck with me.

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

Hello Peter, I am really enjoying your blog. Very interesting ! 

 

I liked the setting in Bad Boy, it looks like the kind of place that invites mystery and intrigue. Where no one will know what happened there for some time.

 

I am also interested in A Dry Season, that story interests me because we visit an area that has small towns that were flooded to make a reservoir and dams. in the 1930's. It's strange to see roads and stone walls that lead right into the water.  

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!


optic_i wrote:

Hello Peter, I am really enjoying your blog. Very interesting ! 

 

I liked the setting in Bad Boy, it looks like the kind of place that invites mystery and intrigue. Where no one will know what happened there for some time.

 

I am also interested in A Dry Season, that story interests me because we visit an area that has small towns that were flooded to make a reservoir and dams. in the 1930's. It's strange to see roads and stone walls that lead right into the water.  


Even though this is a continuing series, I think you can read an individual book like A Dry Season without missing much. You'll understand the background more if you read them in order, but it's not absolutely necessary.

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Re: Guest Blog by Author PETER ROBINSON!

Welcome Peter:

 

I have two of your books in my TBR pile:

 

Final Account (Inspector Alan Banks Series #7) 

Past Reason Hated (Inspector Alan Banks Series #5)   

 

 

Since I like to read series in order, I would like to start with:

 

Gallows View (Inspector Alan Banks Series #1)  

 

There are so many British series that I enjoy! Now I can add yours to that growing list!

 

Thanks for blogging here and educating us about your wonderful series!

Eadie - A day out-of-doors, someone I loved to talk with, a good book and some simple food and music -- that would be rest. - Eleanor Roosevelt