This month I was one of several ghostwriters filmed by Sky Arts for the Book Show. Back in the studio Mariella Frostrup was sitting beside Peter James, who is both a friend and currently one of the most successful crime writers in the world with his Brighton based detective, Roy Grace. What is less well known is that in 1994 Peter was almost certainly the first electronic author in the world and got a right bashing from the literary media as a result. He was, in other words, a prophet of the times we now live in.
I first met him around that time and he tried to explain to me how Penguin were publishing his horror novel, "Host", on two floppy disks, (remember them?). It all sounded very interesting but I couldn't really grasp what he was so enthusiastic about. That is not the only interesting thing about Peter, of course. He is also a film producer, (he had then just lost a lot of money filming "Biggles" and went on to have much more success with "The Merchant of Venice" starring Al Pacino) - I believe I also remember hearing him give a lecture in a morgue, but perhaps that was a dream.
Many of the grandees of publishing came out to say what a huge disservice he was doing the industry with all this screen based, electronic gimmickry. He was accused of attempting to kill off the novel and he got a good verbal clouting on Radio 4's Today programme, (I've had one of those myself so I know just how exasperating it can be). So I think it is now only right to give some credit where it is due. Peter James is the electronic publishing world's John the Baptist and if not canonised should at least be knighted.
I have already written a little about how Mariella dropped me in it with both him and Robert Harris on the show, (see my blog at http://andrewcrofts.blogspot.com/ "Mariella Frostrup plays the mischievous minx" if you fancy a quick shot of schadenfreude).
Also this month I put "The Fabulous Dreams of Maggie de Beer" up on Kindle as well as Smashwords, so I feel I have taken one more tiny step in Peter James's mighty shoes.