Five questions for... Peter May

Five questions for... Peter May

Author Peter May talks to us about the inspiration behind his new crime thriller, A Silent Death.


What is A Silent Death about?

A Silent Death is the story of four very different people who are brought together and into conflict by chance, a story of naked evil brought face to face with innocence and courage, of an ordinary life led to tragedy, and an obsessive almost destructive intelligence taught humility by sacrifice.

What inspired the story?

I was inspired to write the book by its setting. For several years I have owned an apartment in the south of Spain, halfway between Marbella and Gibraltar.  It is where I have written my last six books. And in getting to know that part of the world, I came to realise that behind the tourist facade of sun, sea and sangria, something dark lurked in the shadows. A world of drug and people smuggling, of ruthless violence and official corruption. I wanted to explore the shadowy underbelly of that world.

Why did you choose to set it between the UK and Spain?

Having spent most of my recent winters in Spain, I felt I had got to know the people, the culture and the landscape well. The links between the Costa del Sol (or Costa del Crime as the British tabloids would have it) and the UK are well-documented. Many of Britain’s most wanted criminals have ended up there. It seemed like the perfect setting for a crime novel.

One of the characters in the book is deaf-blind – why did you want to include this condition and what research did you conduct before writing?

A few years ago I saw a TV ad seeking money for a charity that cared for deaf-blind sufferers.  I had never before considered how it might feel to be both deaf and blind. When I thought about it, the enormity of it struck me like a physical blow. Terrible to be deaf OR blind, but both? It seemed unimaginable. I did some research and discovered that one of the main causes was a genetic condition called Usher Syndrome. I then discovered a book which detailed the personal experiences of twelve deaf-blind sufferers from around the world. I was appalled at the way both society and government had treated these people, and in creating the character in the book, I was determined to throw light on their suffering. Putting myself in that character’s shoes, and imagining how it must feel to be trapped, a prisoner of your own body, was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

What are you working on next?

In May I am heading off to the Arctic Circle to research my new book. More than that I am not prepared to say at this stage, except that readers should anticipate the return of a well-loved character.

A Silent Death by Peter May will be published by riverrun on 9th January 2020, to be followed by an author tour of the UK