Peter May was in fine form on the first leg of his Scottish tour last night. Discussing his latest novel, A Winter Grave, Peter was interviewed by journalist Kirsteen Paterson in front of a packed and engaged audience.
Questioned by Kirsteen on the motivation behind A Winter Grave, Peter explained that his firm intention had been to retire, relax and read what he wanted to – as well as enjoying the music that is a big part of his life. He had refused all offers of contract renewals, had said no at all commissions and was set for an easier life.
After 26 books, who could blame him? But then, he explained to Kirsteen, he read the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued in the Autumn of 2021. It was terrifying and warned that the world is set to reach the 1.5ºC level within the next two decades. It said that only the most drastic cuts in carbon emissions from now would help prevent an environmental disaster. He thought it was so terrifying that it was bound to move politicians to action. But when he saw that instead of being motivated to act, politicians across the world actually watered down their response.
Peter May got mad. He spent 3 solid months undertaking research into climate change to inform himself as well as he could. At end it was very was clear to him that we are on a path to destruction.
In this situation, you ask yourself what you can do, he says. So he decided to write about it. It is, of course, a huge and complex subject to tackle and Peter decided that his solution was to do what he does best and to write a thriller, but set in a world impacted by climate change. The research that he had undertaken gave him the confidence to envision our world just 30 years from now.
In Scotland, our climate is informed by the Gulf Stream. Because polar regions of the planet are warming faster than the mid-latitudes, the typical north-south temperature difference is lower. As the temperature difference decreases, it causes a slight drop in zonal winds in the jet stream — which, in turn, deforms the jet stream and a wave forms drawing down cold air from the polar vortex. These can suck air out of the weather system, lowering pressure and causing stormy weather.
So Peter used this research to re-envision some of the geography of Scotlans – notably in both Glasgow and the Kinlochleven area. He sees flooding in Hull, and London. Calcutta is under water or Glasgow has levees along the Clyde to stop flooding. The South side goes under water and water taxis are a primary means of transport. The Clyde becomes a water motorway.
He also uses a new development in transport technology. eVTOL vehicles are electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft that use electric battery power to hover, take off, and land vertically. They will, Peter tells us, be used in the forthcoming Paris Olympics.
But of course, Peter is a terrific crime writer, so it isn’t vehicles or floods that are at the heart of this book – it is great characters. Cameron is an old school cop. A D.S. who trained at Tulliallan Police College in Dunfermline. His boss is a shiny graduate who has little actual policing experience but knows the jargon and has passed the exams. Cameron has a daughter with whom he has little or no relationship and she is a climatologist. It is she who finds the body of a missing journalist that starts the murder enquiry at the core of A Winter Grave.
Peter told the audience that he enjoyed envisioning Scotland’s future, 30 years from now. He has made Scotland independent at the stroke of his pen. Of course that has changed all the political and party structures too, and so Peter has envisioned a revival of the Auld Alliance with France helping smooth the path for Scotland to rejoin the EU and Scotland restructuring local government in a way more akin to France’s structures. It is a new Auld Alliance.
Peter May is clearly extremely well informed and very impassioned about climate change and its impact. When he talks about it you can see the passion and the anger bubbling away. He says that the fossil fuel industry has known about the impact of climate change for more than 4 decades. And, he says, have been working to subvert it ever since. He says the strategy and tactics are exactly the same as that used by tobacco companies. So much so that big Oil companies even use the same PR companies to sow the seeds of doubt and create an atmosphere of distrust over whether climate change is real. And what is worse, they admit it. Peter says that they are deploying a strategy that is prepared to sacrifice the future of our planet for profit today. No wonder climate change protestors are angry. And pehaps now we understand better why the forces of the establishment are lined up to discredit them.
Peter May’s book, A Winter Grave is an excellent, chilling thriller with great characters and a fantastic plot. But I hope I have given you a flavour of why it is also so much more.
Peter May’s tour continues:
Tuesday 24th January, 7pm – Eden Court Theatre, Inverness
Wednesday 25th January, 7.30pm – St. John’s Kirk, Perth
Thursday 26th January, 12 midday to 1pm – Signing at Waterstones Dundee
Thursday 26th January, 7.30pm – Toppings, St Andrews
Friday 27th January, 3pm to 4pm – Signing, Waterstones Edinburgh (West End)
Friday 27th January, 7pm – Toppings, Edinburgh
2 thoughts on “Peter May at Aye Write, Mitchell Library, Glasgow 23 January 2023 @authorpetermay @kapaterson @AyeWrite @riverrunbooks @soph_ransompr”
Thanks for your little review. It sounds like a book we would like. At least you made us curious.
The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Great event and exceptionally well hosted by Kirsty. Great book and superbly well written by Peter.