Today I am delighted to have Peter Robinson, international bestselling author, answering a couple of questions on Bibliophile Book Club!
About Peter Robinson (via http://www.inspectorbanks.com):
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.
Putting the Team Back Together
Although Alan Banks is the star of the show he has been well supported by Annie and Winsome down the years. Are the books more of a team story than they used to be?
Yes, I think they are. It took many years to find the right team, and I even had to kill off a couple of earlier members who weren’t going anywhere! I think now with Banks, Gervaise, Winsome, Annie and Gerry, I can switch between the characters to let Banks take a breather every now and then. He’s always there, of course, but not always to the fore. I’m not too sure about Doug Wilson yet, so I’m going to have to make my mind up whether to give him a bigger role or phase him out. If he goes, though, that will leave Banks completely surrounded by strong women, which was never my intention! Not that he can’t handle it.
Shaking up the dynamic between the characters also makes for interesting twists – Annie and Alan’s relationship for example.
Well, that’s always going to be there in the background of all their future dealings, but it’s unspoken for the most part. I think they have a good relationship now, which would probably be ruined by any rekindling of the romance, so that’s unlikely to happen.
Can a “bad seed” be introduced to the team or is it important that the core characters are a stable feature to ground the next story?
Yes, a bad seed can certainly be introduced, but would most likely last only one book, two at the most, before he or she had to suffer dire consequences. I mean, Chief Constable Riddle and DC Kevin Templeton were only marginally bent, but look at what happened to them! I also come back to DI Chadwick, from the late sixties, in When the Music’s Over, and I find him interesting to look at as a bad seed. His conduct was far from honest in Piece of My Heart, and his actions in the latest book would hardly count as exemplary police work. So there’s always the possibility of a bad seed in the future.
My thanks to Peter Robinson for answering those questions!