Peter Robinson's absorbing new novel, Children of the Revolution, is our April Top Pick in Mystery! In his 21st novel to feature Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, the 30-year veteran launches into a sensitive investigation of a former teacher's death, which may be linked to his checkered past and sexual misconduct with one of his students. Amid the details of the case, Banks is facing new career choices: Does he accept a paperwork-heavy promotion, or risk being superannuated in his more comfortable position?
In a 7 questions interview, Robinson shares his thoughts on keeping his beloved character fresh, the Inspector Banks television series and more.
Describe your book in one sentence.
A disgraced college teacher is found dead, and when Banks’ investigation leads him to suspect the man’s radical past might play a part, he begins to encounter opposition from powerful and privileged establishment figures.
This is your 21st novel to feature DCI Banks. Do you still discover new things you love about his character?
That’s what keeps me going. I try to find something new about Banks, however minor, in each book. In Watching the Dark, for example, I discovered that he had a bit of a cruel streak by the way he played practical jokes on one of the characters. In Children of the Revolution he even surprises himself by some of his actions, but telling would be giving too much away!
Where do you do most of your writing?
While I do a lot of writing in my study in Toronto and work steadily when I’m over in Yorkshire, perhaps the place I get most done is a lake house in Northern Ontario. There are no distractions except a beautiful view, and I get about twice as much writing done there as I would during the same time in the city.
Do you have any unique writing rituals?
No, I just plunge right in. It’s easy to develop tools for procrastination, like entering the cold water slowly and feeling the chill creep up your legs. Best to dive right in and immerse yourself. You soon get used to it. I don’t require any weird objects on my desk or lucky charms to wear. Well, I do have a tiny skull made of jet on my desk.
Name one book you think everyone should read.
The Wind in the Willows.
Your Inspector Banks series has recently been adapted for television. Have you been a regular viewer?
I have seen all the episodes, and I must say I think Stephen Tompkinson is doing a great job in the title role. The rest of the cast is terrific, too. I do find the adaptations have diverged quite a bit from the books lately, but the result has probably been even better television programmes!
What are you working on next?
The 22nd DCI Banks book, called Abattoir Blues after a Nick Cave song. The title will probably be changed in the U.S., as “abattoir” is not a word you use, I’m told. I’ll probably call it Slaughterhouse Six! Anyway, my publishers weren’t too thrilled when I told them it was about a stolen tractor, but when I mentioned the bloodstained hangar, the burning caravan and the body parts, their ears perked up a bit.