What do you think about the choices made for the DCI Banks TV series?
There have been a number of questions recently regarding differences between the characters of the DCI Banks novels and the TV adaptations.
I have come to think of the Banks books and the TV series as parallel universes, rather like those in the TV series Fringe. (If you haven’t seen it, check it out. It’s well worth watching.) The characters are clearly meant to be different versions of the same person; they look different, have different personalities and meet different fates in different worlds.
I have no power in the TV universe, where I am a mere observer, but I like to think of myself as the custodian of the universe of the books. In that universe, I can assure you, all the characters you have come to know and (I hope) love continue to be hale and hearty and as human and flawed as ever.
When will the next Inspector Banks novel be released?
The next Inspector Banks novel will be released in September, 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 Northallerton 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 Devil and 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 to ratatouille 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 A Dedicated Man, published in 1988, you mention Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Winslet, who were not famous at the time. Can you see into the future?
I’d like to say I was being prescient, but the truth is a lot more prosaic. For some reason, I had to go through the manuscript again some years ago, and I thought it would be a good idea to update the girl’s screen heroines, as Jessica Lange and Kathleen Turner, who were in the original book, were no longer top stars. I never even imagined someone would be fastidious enough to check it against publication date!
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.
If you have any questions, send them along. We’ll include some of them, with Peter’s answers, in this section in the future.