Peter May (writer)
20 December 1951|
|Occupation||Crime writer, screenwriter, novelist|
|Nationality||Scottish, French (April 2016)|
|Period||1971 – present|
|Genre||Television drama, Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction|
|Notable works||The Lewis Trilogy, The China Thrillers, The Enzo Files|
2011 The Blackhouse
Peter May (born 20 December 1951) is a Scottish television screenwriter, novelist, and crime writer. He is the recipient of writing awards in Europe and America. The Blackhouse won the U.S. Barry Award for Crime Novel of the Year and the national literature award in France, the CEZAM Prix Litteraire. The Lewis Man won the French daily newspaper Le Télégramme's 10,000-euro Grand Prix des Lecteurs. In 2014, Entry Island won both the Deanston’s Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and the UK’s ITV Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year Award. May’s books have sold more than two million copies in the UK and several million internationally.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Television career
- 3 Chinese connections
- 4 French connections
- 5 Second Life
- 6 The Lewis Trilogy
- 7 Entry Island
- 8 Runaway
- 9 Coffin Road
- 10 Books, television and film writing credits
- 11 Awards
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Peter May was born in Glasgow. From an early age he was intent on becoming a novelist, but took up a career as a journalist as a way to start earning a living by writing. He made his first serious attempt at writing a novel at the age of 19, which he sent to Collins where it was read by Philip Ziegler, who wrote him a very encouraging rejection letter. At the age of 21, he won the Fraser Award and was named Scotland's Young Journalist of the Year. He went on to write for The Scotsman and the Glasgow Evening Times. At the age of 26, May's first novel, The Reporter, was published. May was asked to adapt the book as a television series for the British television network the BBC, and left journalism in 1978 to begin to write full-time for television.
May's novel The Reporter became the prime-time 13-part television series entitled The Standard in 1978. May went on to create another major TV series for the BBC, Squadron, a drama involving an RAF rapid deployment squadron. In the following fifteen years, May earned more than 1,000 TV credits. He created and wrote major drama serials for both BBC and the Independent Television Network in the UK including Machair which he co-created with Janice Hally for Scottish Television. The long-running serial was the first major television drama to be made in the Gaelic language and was shot entirely on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. The show, which May also produced, achieved a 33% audience share and regularly appeared in the top ten in the ratings in Scotland, in spite of the fact that it was broadcast with English subtitles because only 2% of the population of Scotland are Gaelic speakers. During his time working in television, May wrote the novels Hidden Faces (1981) and The Noble Path (1992), and in 1996 he quit television to write novels.
After quitting television May wrote a series of six novels known as the "China Thrillers". To research the series, May made annual trips to China and built up a network of contacts including forensic pathologists and homicide detectives. He gained access to the homicide and forensic science sections of Beijing and Shanghai police forces and has made a study of the methodology of Chinese police and forensic pathology systems.
As a mark of their respect for his work, the Chinese Crime Writers' Association made him an honorary member of their Beijing Chapter. He is the only Westerner to receive this honour. He has also contributed a monthly column to the Chinese Police Magazine Contemporary World Police.
The books were first published in the UK between 1999 and 2004 and subsequently published worldwide in translation. New editions were published for the United States and UK in 2016/17 with an introduction by May explaining the historical setting of the books.
Peter May lives in France and his China Thrillers have received several nominations for awards in that country. In 2007 he won the Prix Intramuros. This prize is unique in France as it is awarded by juries of readers made up of prisoners in French penitentiaries. The books under consideration are reduced to a shortlist of 6 finalists and the authors of the shortlisted books then have to travel to various French prisons to be interviewed by panels of detainees. In 2007, May was the only non-French author in the shortlist. He received the prize at the annual Polar&Co literary festival in Cognac.
"The Enzo Files", is set in France and is centred on the work of half-Italian, half-Scottish Enzo Macleod. This former forensic scientist, now working as a biology professor at a French university becomes involved in applying the latest scientific methods to solve cold cases.
May continues to ensure authenticity in the details of his books by researching in France just as he did in China. When writing "The Critic" – which involves the wine industry and is set in Gaillac, France – May took a course in wine-tasting, picked grapes by hand, and was invited by the winemakers of the region to be inducted as a Chevalier de la Dive Bouteille de Gaillac in December 2007.
In April 2016, after 15 years of living full-time in France and a connection with the department of the Lot that goes back more than 40 years, May was welcomed as a French citizen at a ceremony of naturalization by Catherine Ferrier, the Préfète of the Lot.
While working on his standalone thriller 'Virtually Dead', May researched the book by creating an avatar in the online world of Second Life and opening the Flick Faulds private detective agency. He spent a year in Second Life, working as a private detective, and was hired by clients for cases ranging from protection from harassment by stalkers to surveillance and infidelity investigations.
The Lewis Trilogy
After being turned down by all the major British publishers, The Blackhouse, the first book in 'The Lewis Trilogy', was published first in May's adopted home of France in French translation at the end of 2009. The book was hailed as "a masterpiece" by the French daily newspaper L'Humanité and was immediately nominated for several literary awards in France. It won the Prix des Lecteurs at Le Havre's Ancres Noires Festival in 2010 and won the French national literature award, the Cezam Prix Littéraire Inter CE at an award ceremony in Strasbourg in October 2011. The Blackhouse went on to be published all over Europe and was bought by British publishers Quercus who brought it out in February 2011. It is the first of three books to be set in the Outer Hebrides, an archipelago off the North West coast of Scotland.
The second book in the trilogy, 'The Lewis Man' was published in January 2012, and spent 18 weeks in the UK hardbacks best sellers' list. It has won two French literature awards, the Prix des Lecteurs at Le Havre's Ancres Noires Festival, 2012 and the Prix des Lecteurs du Télégramme, readers prize of France's Le Télégramme newspaper; the 10,000 euro award was presented to May at a ceremony in Brest in May 2012.
'The Lewis Man' won the 2012 Prix International at the Cognac Festival.
The third book in the trilogy, 'The Chessmen' was published in January 2013. It was shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Book of the Year 2014. The Lewis Trilogy has sold more than a million copies in the UK alone.
Entry Island, Peter May's first book after the Lewis Trilogy, won the Deanstons Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2014, the UK national prize, the Specsavers ITV Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year 2014 and the French Trophée 813 for the Best Foreign Crime Novel of the year 2015.
The book is partly set on a remote island in modern-day Canada and partly set on the Isle of Lewis 150 years earlier during the Highland Clearances.
Runaway is a crime novel based on Peter May's real experiences of running away from home in Glasgow seeking fame and fortune in London with members of a musical group that he was part of in the 1960s. The story is told through two storylines, one in 1965 in which five teenagers embark on a trip that ends with tragic consequences, and the other in 2015, where three of the men retrace their steps from Scotland to London fifty years later in order to solve a murder.
Published in the UK in 2016, Coffin Road is a standalone thriller set on the Isle of Harris. The story has an ecological theme involving links between big pharmaceutical companies and colony collapse disorder in bees. Although it is not a follow-up to May's Lewis Trilogy, the character of George Gunn, a policeman in the Lewis Trilogy features as a policeman in Coffin Road.
Books, television and film writing credits
The Lewis Trilogy
The Enzo Files
- Extraordinary People (published in United States as Dry Bones by Poisoned Pen Press 2006), (Quercus 2013)
- The Critic (published in United States as A Vintage Corpse by Poisoned Pen Press 2007), (Quercus 2013)
- Blacklight Blue (Poisoned Pen Press 2008), (Quercus 2013)
- Freeze Frame (Poisoned Pen Press 2010), (Quercus 2013)
- Blowback (Poisoned Pen Press 2011), (Quercus 2013)
- Cast Iron (Riverrun 2017)
The China Thrillers
- The Firemaker (Hodder & Stoughton 1999), (St Martin's Press 2005), (Poisoned Pen Press 2008), (Quercus E-books 2012), (Riverrun 2016)
- The Fourth Sacrifice (Hodder & Stoughton 2000), (St Martin's Press 2007) (Poisoned Pen Press 2008), (Quercus E-books 2012), (Riverrun 2016)
- The Killing Room (Hodder & Stoughton 2001), (St Martin's Press 2008) (Poisoned Pen Press 2009), (Quercus E-books 2012), (Riverrun 2016)
- Snakehead (Hodder & Stoughton 2002), (Poisoned Pen Press 2009), (Quercus E-books 2012), (Riverrun 2017)
- The Runner (Hodder & Stoughton 2003), (Poisoned Pen Press 2010), (Quercus E-books 2012), (Riverrun 2017)
- Chinese Whispers (Hodder & Stoughton 2004), (Poisoned Pen Press 2009), (Quercus E-books 2012), (Riverrun 2017)
- The Reporter (Corgi, 1978)
- Fallen Hero (NEL, 1979)
- Hidden Faces (Piatkus 1981), The Man With No Face (St Martin's Press 1982)
- The Noble Path (Piatkus 1992), (St Martin's Press 1993)
- Virtually Dead (Poisoned Pen Press 2010)
- Entry Island (Quercus 2014)
- Runaway (Quercus 2015)
- Coffin Road (Quercus 2016)
- I'll Keep You Safe (Riverrun 2018)
- The Standard (BBC 1978) (13 episodes) creator, writer
- Squadron (BBC 1982) (10 episodes) co-creator, writer
- Take The High Road (Scottish Television 1980 – 1992) writer (200+ episodes), story & script editor (700+ episodes).
- The Ardlamont Mystery (BBC 1985) (Single drama) writer.
- Machair (Scottish Television 1992–96) (99 episodes) co-creator and producer.
- The Killing Room (Les Disparues) movie to be produced by French production company, French Connection in partnership with Korean Dream Capture Studios Action to be transferred from Shanghai, China to Seoul, South Korea.
- Fraser Award (1973) winner of Scottish Young Journalist of the Year Award
- 17th International Celtic Film and Television Festival (1996) Machair nominated for Best Drama Serial Award
- Elle Magazine, Grand Prix de Littérature (2006) The Firemaker runner up in category Best Crime Novel
- 2007 Prix Intramuros (France) Snakehead winner at the Salon Polar & Co, Cognac
- 2007 Prix International (France) Snakehead shortlisted at the Salon Polar & Co, Cognac
- 2008 Prix International (France) Chinese Whispers shortlisted at the Salon Polar & Co, Cognac
- 2010 Prix Ancres Noires L'Île des chasseurs d'oiseaux (The Blackhouse) winner of the Prix des Lecteurs at the Les Ancres Noires book festival, Le Havre
- 2011 Cezam Prix Littéraire Inter CE L'Île des chasseurs d'oiseaux (The Blackhouse) winner of the CEZAM Prix Litteraire Inter CE national French Literature Prize.
- 2012 Prix Ancres Noires (2012) L'Homme de Lewis (The Lewis Man) winner of the Prix des Lecteurs at the Les Ancres Noires book festival, Le Havre
- 2012 Grand Prix des Lecteurs du Télégramme (2012) L'Homme de Lewis (The Lewis Man) winner of the Prix des Lecteurs du Télégramme, 10,000 Euro Readers' Prize of French daily newspaper.
- 2012 Prix International, Cognac FestivalL'Homme de Lewis won the 2012 Prix International at the Cognac Festival.
- 2013 Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel (USA) The Blackhouse shortlisted
- 2013 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award (UK) The Lewis Man shortlisted
- 2013 Barry Award for Best Crime Novel (USA) The Blackhouse won the Barry Award for Best Novel of the Year at a ceremony at Bouchercon, Albany NY.
- 2014 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award (UK) The Chessmen shortlisted
- 2014 Deanstons Scottish Crime Book of the Year Entry Island won the Deanstons Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award at the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in Stirling September 2014.
- 2014 Specsavers ITV Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year Entry Island won the Crime Thriller Book Club Best Read of the Year Award at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards ceremony in London, October 2014.
- 2015 Dagger in the Library UK Crime Writers' Association award for an author's body of work in British libraries (UK) shortlisted
- 2015 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award (UK) Entry Island shortlisted
- 2015 Trophée 813 (France) Entry Island (L'Île du Serment) won the Trophée 813 for "Best Foreign Crime Novel" awarded by the French magazine Review 813.
- "Scotland Now feature on Scottish Crime Writers". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "Le Telegramme newspaper feature about Peter May winning Grand Prix". Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "May Wins Scottish Crime Book of the Year". The Bookseller. Bookseller Magazine. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "ITV Press Release Crime Thriller Awards". ITV.com. ITV. Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- "Scotsman newspaper feature and book excerpt". Retrieved 12 May 2015.
- May, Peter (5 November 2013). "A Man of Letters Amongst His Books". polaroidblipfoto.com.
- "Shots Magazine Interview with Peter May". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "Biographical details from official Peter May website". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "Crime Time profile of author Peter May". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "Gaelic drama serial "Machair"". Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- May, Peter. "China Thrillers New Editions". Peter May Author. Retrieved 27 December 2016.
- "Official Press Release about Prix Intramuros". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "San Diego Reader Feature about Peter May's Extraordinary People". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "San Diego reader Article about Peter May's 'The Critic'". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "Peter May describes becoming a Chevalier de la Dive Bouteille de Gaillac". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "Peter May Naturalisation". La Depeche. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- "International Thriller Writers Magazine article about Peter May's 'Virtually Dead'". Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- May, Peter. "Translation of review of The Blackhouse in l'humanite". Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- L'Humanite. "French Daily Newspaper l'Humanite review of The Blackhouse". Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- "French Literary Prizes – Prix Ancres Noires des Lecteurs". Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- CEZAM. "CEZAM Prix Litteraire". Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- "Scottish author Peter May Wins French Literary Award". Retrieved 16 October 2011.
- "The Lewis Trilogy". Official author website. Retrieved 9 February 2011.
- "Richard and Judy Book Club official site".
- "Peter May official site". ur-web.net.
- "Cognac Karine Giebel consacrée par le Festival du Polar". charentlibre.fr.
- "Theakston's Shortlist Crime Novel of the Year". Theakstons. Theakstons Old Peculiar. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "Scottish Television Article about Peter May". STV. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- "May Wins Scottish Crime Book of the Year". The Bookseller. Bookseller Magazine. Retrieved 25 September 2014.
- "ITV Press Release Crime Thriller Awards". ITV.com. ITV. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- "2015 Trophee 813 Winner". K-Libre. Retrieved 6 October 2015.
- Ellis-Petersen, Hannah (26 January 2015). "Peter May: returning to a runaway youth". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- Robinson, David (9 January 2016). "Peter May returns to old haunts in new novel". Scotsman. The Scotsman. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
- "Article in Screen Daily". Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "French Literary Prizes – Prix Intramuros". Retrieved 27 May 2008.
- "French Literary Prizes – Prix Ancres Noires des Lecteurs". Retrieved 7 July 2010.
- "French Literary Prizes – Prix Ancres Noires des Lecteurs". Retrieved 20 June 2010.
- "French Literary Prizes – Prix des Lecteurs du Télégramme". Retrieved 20 June 2010.
- "Peter May Website news of Prix des Lecteurs du Télégramme". Retrieved 20 June 2010.
- "Macavity Award". Mystery Readers Journal. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year". Theakstons. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "Barry Award". Deadly Pleasures Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 April 2012. Retrieved 10 July 2013.
- "2013 Barry Award Winners". Crimespree Magazine. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Dagger in the Library". Dead Good Books. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- "2015 Theakston Award Winners". Theakstons. Archived from the original on 7 June 2016. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Peter May.|
- "Peter May Official website". Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- "Peter May interview on Quercus Books website". Archived from the original on 2013-04-21.
- "Peter May media website". Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- "David Higham & Co, Literary agents, London. Author biography". Archived from the original on 3 July 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- "Steve Rudd interview with Peter May". Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- "International Thriller Writers review and author profile". Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 28 May 2008.
- Peter May on IMDb
- The story behind Extraordinary People – Online Essay by Peter May at Upcoming4.me