Closing the first day of the weekend at the Morecambe and Vice festival was Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks as part of summer/autumn tour in England. He was on a panel “In Conversation” with Elly Griffiths.
A Little About the Author
Peter Robinson was there to promote his 25th DCI Banks book called Careless Love, which is available to purchase now. He began writing, or at least getting the series published in 1987 and writes a novel approximately once a year. He also writes stand alone novels. He likes food and wine and Scandi-Crime as well as a few US authors. He grew up in Leeds and now divides his time between the UK and Canada. He has won notable awards including CWA Dagger in the Library Award.
Banks and his team find themselves with two suspicious deaths. One involves the apparent suicide of a young local student, whose body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn’t own a car. Didn’t even drive. He also talked about the inconsistencies multiplying in this case and that Annie’s father’s new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. There is also another case which concerns a man in his sixties found dead in a gully up on the wild moorland.
Peter Robinson says that Zelda is the protagonist here and he talked of how she is a character who has been through a lot but has put herself back together again. In other words, he feels Zelda carries on and can do for a bit more time. He spoke of Banks and how he felt he too could go on a bit longer yet! He says at the end of this book, that there’s enough to say there’s more to come…
Of DCI Banks he says that he has a personal life but he is married to job. He also says of Banks, which I personally really liked and there’s something profound about it:
Banks is ordinary, but, as the series goes on, finds he is more extraordinary, which means we all are.
This book is set around North Yorkshire. Eastvale is modelled on Richmond and Ripon with cobbled market squares, which he does expand. They are familiar places if you know that part of the country, even though he has added the likes of buildings such as a college in Eastvale, which continues to expand. The thing that both amused and bemused me was that he when he was talking about the setting he mentioned that people ask him if Yorkshire really exists. I can tell you, reader, that it definitely exists in a very large part of the north of England, where there is much to see and do and many a famous author has lived and still do live in, including Peter Robinson himself who grew up Leeds, which is is one of the main known cities in the county. Other writers have too, around the county, such as Joanne Harris, Kate Atkinson, Susan Hill, the Bronte sister, to name but a few. Playwrights such as Alan Bennett and Alan Aykbourn and many a poet such as WH Auden and Ted Hughes also resided in Yorkshire. There are many writers who have written dramas for tv here too, such as Kay Mellor and Sally Wainwright. So, as you see, it definitely exists and is a wonderfully talented county of England with its cities, which have a rich history, culture and more rural places with their rolling hills and dales. I could go on about what to do, but this is about a panel at a book festival. I will say, it’s a great area of England to explore if you haven’t already!
Music within his books was touched upon and how Banks has a wide range of music tastes that can be developed, he said.
I have myself noticed there are a few series of book which use music within books and there was an entirely different panel devoted to that subject.
Peter Robinson believes that there is a playlist linking to Banks’ musical tastes on Spotify.
“Only in a novel can you be with someone who is alone and follow them through life.”
He talked about this in the context of having characters being alone, doing things like listening to music and the reader knows. When you think about it, it is so true, only in writing can you see someone’s inner thoughts that the author wants to be revealed to a reader. Obviously too, as a reader you are looking into someone else’s world. In reality of course, alone, is exactly that, so I think this was the most profound statement made within this talk and put in a way that not all readers really think of. It can almost be something that the reader can take for granted, but when someone points this out, as Peter Robinson did, it turns it into something a bit more thought provoking…
Peter Robinson also spoke of his writing style, which was very interesting. It turns out that normally he does no planning, so there is no fully plotted outline, but he said writing 3 books like this means he is doing a bit more pre-planning than usual. He also said it is rare that he begins with violence, normally he begins with the time after all that would have happened, citing that the victim and place is most important. He also uses forensics to move the story forwards in his police procedural tales. He said he also likes the measured, longer sentences style of writing and talked of P.D. James also writing in this style. When setting the scene he talked about how most authors write about where they know and how he once decided to set a scene in a book in Peterborough, he didn’t really know the area, so that prompted him to do a bit of research.
To get ideas he said he looks at the world around him to keep things contemporary.
With all his success in his writing career, he couldn’t perhaps not talk about the TV adaptation of his DCI Banks books. I was quite pleased it was brought up because I find it fascinating to find out what the author thinks about their creation being shown in visual form, once they’ve handed over the rights. He said that it was exciting at first when he heard from the TV company wanting to make his books into a drama. He had no involvement in the casting. For any who don’t know, Stephen Tompkinson was cast as DCI Banks. He acknowledged that he wasn’t how people saw his lead character in the books, but thought as the series went on, he could see Stephen being Banks, more and more as he felt that the actor brought out the character of Banks. He had however said he was a more emotional character on TV than in the books. He didn’t seem to think this was a really terrible thing though. It was just a fact and one that I got the impression he didn’t mind so terribly. What was interesting however was that he wasn’t too keen on the 3rd series due to too many changes and what was omitted from the books as they transferred the 3rd series onto screen. All in all though, certainly for earlier series I thought the author sounded good that the chance of having the opportunity for his work to be televised had happened.
Is Peter Robinson worth seeing at a literary event? I would say yes. He has interesting aspects to say to his audience and comes across well.
*Peter Robinson gave verbal permission to me for his photo to be used in my blog and for that I thank him very much.
Elly Griffiths who I mentioned was the moderator is worth seeing. She asked great questions and allowed time for her interviewee to talk and it all seemed effortless and at ease.
Elly Griffiths is known for winning the CWA Dagger In the Library Award in 2016 with her book The Chalk Pit. She has 2 series that I know of. The Ruth Galloway novels and The Stephens and Mephisto novels.