On Love Books Group Blog today we have an interview with Peter Ritchie. Evidence of Death is Peter’s new book and it’s published by Black and White.
Billy Nelson is back home in battle-scarred Belfast. But the Troubles have cut this ex-Army Loyalist hard man deep – and now that his city’s allegiances have shifted, nothing is quite the same.
An outbreak of gang violence forces Billy to move on. This time to Edinburgh, where he muscles in on the capital’s drug trade and the family who run it. As the balance of power tips, underworld rivalries between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast spill out onto the streets.
With a spate of horrific incidents and a trail of victims, the pressure is mounting for Grace Macallan, the new superintendent of the Crime & Counter Terrorism Directorate. Troubled by her own demons and with everyone baying for the blood of Billy Nelson and his old paramilitary contacts, can Grace hold her nerve?
What book truly inspired your life and why?
I was just a child when I read Call of the Wild but I was blown away by it at the time. I was brought up in a tightly knit Scottish fishing community and this vision of another world and far away wilderness really inspired me to read and think about the world outside. It is quite brutal in parts but is about survival under the harshest conditions and of course dignity.
How did you pick who you dedicated your book too?
There are so many people I’ve come across over the years who’ve done the most amazing things and I’ve witnessed incredible acts of humanity along the way. In book 3 I mention quite a number of people but anyone who reads the books will know there is a common theme among trafficked women and sex workers. I worked on a lot of cases including murder where they were the victims and this had a profound effect on me. So I like to think that in a way the books are dedicated to the victims.
Did you do a lot of research for your book?
Because of my experience in investigation and intelligence, know where to go to find answers if I don’t have them in front of me. I always visit the ground where significant action takes place. For example with book 3 I visited the dock area of Newcastle on a couple of occasions. I knew the place well years ago but I wanted to walk the ground just to make sure everything was in the right place. It’s the same with Belfast and in the one I’m writing at the moment I’ve been to Dublin where I’ve set some of the action in the extraordinary Glasnevin cemetery. I’m lucky though that with my own background crime fiction doesn’t require a huge amount of research (maybe I’m just lazy!)
What was your favourite read of 2017?
I read Paperboy by Tony Macaulay last year and just loved it. People who know me know my affection for Northern Ireland and the friends who lived and suffered through the Troubles. It’s a wonderful wee read – charming, laugh out loud and full of colour. Although it’s set in Belfast during dark times there is something very familiar to all of us in the characters.
If you had to take three books on a desert island what would they be?
Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. Don’t know how many times I’ve read it and still knocks me back in my seat.
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Have seen it on stage and film but nothing equals the book.
The Cruel sea by Nicholas Monsarrat. I’m a product of generations of deep sea fishermen and many of them including my father and grandfather served in the navy during the world wars. I spent years at sea myself so the book touches something deep inside me.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?
During my time as a detective I always liked to draw, paint and play around with short stories. I wanted to write but don’t think I could have done it till I had time away from the job. I had just the briefest idea for a prologue for the first book and a few years ago I took a deep breath sat down and wrote it. Then the main character walked onto the stage and she’s become like an old friend now. I don’t plan anything, have no idea what I’m going to write and Grace Macallan just takes me wherever she’s going.
Can you share with us a photo that tells a story?
This one kind of sums me up. I was brought up in the fishing community, spent years at sea before joining the police and half the time you’ll still find me wandering about the harbour. It’s full of memories and my great grandfather and his crew were lost just a few miles from that harbour wall. My great grandmother was watching from the pier during a violent storm and she was pregnant at the time with my grandfather who I’m named after. There’s a story!
What would you like your readers to know before starting your book?
I’ve seen an awful lot in my time as a detective and try to make the books authentic in the way people interact. I try to take the reader right into the stories and close to what actually happens. Another thing I like is to introduce humour because that’s how it is sometimes. One day you can be dealing with absolute horror then something can happen like a scene from a comedy. It changes all the time so the emotions are constantly stretched one way and another.
Do you have any questions that you would like to ask your readers?
When I get the chance at talks and so on I always like to ask what they feel about Grace Macallan. I love hearing the way people see her. Not always the same as me but always interesting.
Thank you, Peter Ritchie and Lina Langlee from Black & White Publishing for the opportunity to be on the blog tour and also for the quote from us in the book.
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