In The Chair 69: Nell Peters

Welcome, Nell Peters.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Nell: Pantster. Twisty. Humorous (until my editor gets his big red pen out!)

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Nell: Assuming it doesn’t have to be a sexual relationship, that would be protagonist DCI Rose Huntingford from the series Double You, Santa’s Slays and (working title) Be Sure Your Sins. Rose is all the Fs – fat, forties, frustrated and fantasising about a job where she’d never again have to look at a dead body or haul herself out of bed before dawn. She has done well to progress so far in the patriarchal Met, but secretly longs to vegetate between designated coffee and lunch breaks in a proper job and get herself a life before it’s too late. I’m very fond of the character, not least because I took her name from my paternal great grandmother, who was born in extreme poverty in Kingston-upon-Thames Workhouse in 1876. Her mother, also Rose, was born there too and it’s impossible to imagine how hard their lives must have been. Real Rose also could have been crushed by the patriarchy and class constraints of Victorian society, but managed to pull herself up by the bootstraps and marry a wealthy landowner – the sort of social mobility that was almost unheard of in those times. What a gal! But then so is DCI Rose, albeit in a very different way.

If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Nell: I’d be an also-ran in one of my back list, The Call. It would be entertaining to listen to Gabrielle – an is-she-isn’t-she guardian angel – telling her charge, history teacher Chris Salmon, stories from ‘the other side’. She also puts him right about historical fact – for instance that Jack the Ripper was actually a woman, and why the Titanic really sank. I could learn a lot.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

o-jamie-oliver-facebookNell: I’ve sat in this chair before, and went for the usual suspects like Agatha Christie and Ian Rankin – also Jean Jacques Rousseau, because I wrote a dissertation on him and wondered if he’d approve. This time, however, I’d invite some of my fellow Accent authors and others whom I’ve ‘met’ on social media. It’s a huge list, but let’s start with Jan Ruth (she’d only sulk if I didn’t invite her), Jenny Kane, Kelly Hambly, Gilli Allan, Eric McFarlane, Jane Risdon, Georgina Troy, Pete Adams and Eva Jordan. That will be enough for the first sitting, I think – even though we have a 9’ dining table (huge family!) people need elbow room. I loathe cooking and I’m rubbish at it, so I’ll sneak in one additional guest – Jamie Oliver – on condition he does the honours.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

shutterstock_185032865-700x467Nell: I recently wrote a 1500 word piece for a charity horror anthology. I don’t generally read or write horror – and I’ve never even seen The Exorcist, but when I was asked to submit, I thought I’d give it a go. And I really enjoyed the whole exercise, helped by the fact that the ‘horror’ brief was pretty loose and humour was allowed (phew!) My story wasn’t uber-gory or full of decapitated ghouls with running sores – nor indeed did it feature any scaly monsters with eight flashing red eyes. I mostly relied upon the suggestion of something ghastly and I suppose it also drifted into the paranormal. I’m not sure if I could manage a full length novel, but I’d certainly give it my best shot.    

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Nell: Self-promo! I’m an introverted soul and I don’t like to raise my head above the parapet – my mother’s words, ‘Who on earth do you think wants to hear what you have to say?’ remain forever echoing around my head.

Favourite word? Nell: WINE!

Nell Peters was in the chair, author of:

Hostile Witness:

By Any Other Name:


In The Chair 51: Nell Peters

Merry Christmas, Nell Peters!

SantaToymakerChairHow would you describe your Christmas in only three words? 

Nell: Stressful. Expensive. Chaotic.

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

Nell: The Christmas classic It’s A Wonderful Life was based on a short story, The Greatest Gift, by Philip Van Doren Stern. I would like to befriend Clarence Odbody, dob 1653, who was George Bailey’s guardian angel and learn more about him – when he’s not too busy showing George the error of his ways, of course. The year Clarence was born, the Taj Mahal was completed, Oliver Cromwell became Lord Protector of England, and New Amsterdam (later New York City) was established. What was Clarence’s life like then as a clockmaker? Where did he live; what did he do apart from make clocks; did he have a family; how did he die? And why did it take him two hundred plus years to earn his wings?

If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?

imagesNell: A Christmas Carol – can I be Scrooge? Because I like saying ‘bah humbug’.

Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve? 

Nell: I suppose all the takeaways would be closed? In that case, I’d grit my teeth and serve what the family have on Christmas Day – turkey, gammon, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes and parsnips, Brussels, carrots, cinnamon swede, broccoli and all the usual sauces etc. I always buy at least one Christmas pudding, but generally we tend not to have that on the day, opting for something lighter – perhaps just mince pies with brandy butter and/or cream. To share this repast, I’d randomly invite P D James, Jean Jacques Rousseau (I wrote a thesis on him – complete nutter, so may provide the cabaret), Agatha Christie (I may have asked her last time), Karl Marx, Peter James, and any Accent author who will risk my cooking. Oh, and my friend Allison Pearson, as we are terminally bad at getting together.

If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?

Nell: Silent Fright.

What do you dislike the most about Christmas?

Nell: Where to start? I was in Tesco last Sunday (20th September) with a son, looking for BBQ coals – but the aisle where we expected to find that sort of thing was stacked high with chocolate Santas, those huge tins of sweeties that only seem to appear for Christmas, and other festive-type confectionaries. That’s a full three months before the great day! Though I don’t have a religious bone in my body, I really loathe the drawn-out commercialisation of what is essentially a spiritual celebration. As our four sons have grown up and found partners/had their own children we have evolved into a huge family. Typically from Christmas Eve onwards we have a house full of people for several days (knew we should have downsized when they all left!) Our anniversary is 23/12 (regularly forgotten!) and the youngest boy’s birthday 24/12, so it’s one whammy after another.
More than anything, I find Christmas to be a sad time. Despite my whinging, I do love having everyone around, but that happens at other times during the year as well – it’s mostly at Christmas, which is an emotive time anyway, that I really miss those who are no longer with us. And at Christmas, in a once-a-year attack of social conscience, I am also mindful of all the lonely people, the abused, the homeless and have-nots for whom the celebrations of others must inevitably reinforce awareness of their plight.

original_personalised-christmas-wine-boxFavourite festive word?

Nell: My favourite word for Christmas doesn’t change from the rest of the year: WINE (plenty of it, but not mulled.)

Nell Peters was in the Christmas chair.  Published by Accent Press.


In The Chair 3: Nell Peters

Welcome, Nell Peters

How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Nell: Quirky, humorous, succinct.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?


Nell: Richard Ffinche in By Any Other Name, because he’s a great guy – and rich. You don’t meet many of those.

If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Nell: By Any Other Name – because I know who the baddie is and I could save the day. I’d bound from peripheral character to heroine who gets her man.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Nell: Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Rankin, PD James and Peter James. Pizza delivery – I’m a lousy cook.

 If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?


Nell: Romance – my crime novels always include a healthy (or in some cases unhealthy) dose, so I’d just have to wean myself off killing characters.

 What do you dislike the most about being  an author?

 Nell: My head is always full of bizarre stuff.

 Favourite word? Nell: Wine.

Nell Peters was in the chair: Author of ‘By Any Other Name.’ Published by Accent Press.