Peter May is Scottish.
He handles a wok like a Chinese chef
...and he wears a kilt.
From drinking competitions with Shanghai cops...
...to eating deep-fried scorpions with Government Officials in Beijing.
Let him tell you how a guy in a skirt got the Chinese police to open their doors for him.
If you would like to interview Peter May
for print, radio or television
(you can also arrange for him
to give a demonstration of Chinese cooking)
Janice Hally Telephone (Europe): (+33) 565 38 64 70
or click here to E-mail
Read on, for more background on Peter May and his China Thrillers...
After producing 1,000 episodes of
top-rated primetime drama in his homeland, Peter
May had earned his place as one of Scotland's most prolific, popular
and successful television writers. But it had come at a price. For 15
years he had been tied to his homeland and all other ambitions had been
on hold. Finally, a sense of carpe diem, a desire to
return to his first love - writing books, and the pull of a country half-way around the world would change his life.
How did this Scotsman find himself in China?
From his attic study in the remote Scottish Highlands, Peter May looked
out over the sea loch to the mountains beyond and an idea took shape. It involved a cop, not a Scottish cop, but a Chinese
the capital city of Beijing. It also involved a
pathologist, a female, American, forensic pathologist. As the
mist dropped down to obscure the mountains, May realised he knew
nothing about the Chinese police force. He knew nothing about
forensic pathology. But he turned to his computer and
those first initial searches on the Internet, knowing that the
information was out there. Soon, he would be on his way to
China, a country that had fascinated him for years, on the first of many trips. Over the following
years he would spend many months there, travelling annually to watch
that vast nation undergo a period of radical change.
Honorary Member of the Chinese Crime Writers' Association
In his determination to make sure that the descriptions of places and
people in his books are accurate, May has made friends in all walks of life, from all
China: from officials in the Ministry of Public Security, to restaurant
owners, from law professors to engineers, from students to retired
cops, all of whom have helped him to understand the way of life in
today. As an acknowledgement of his achievements, his fellow
Writers in China made him an honorary member of the Beijing chapter of their
Crime Writers' association - May is the first Westerner to receive such
Firemaker is stunningly original,highly topical and extremely
[May's] dialogue is witty and apposite, sometimes
extremely funny." Scotland on Sunday
What does research involve for Peter May?
All in a day's work:
- examining a recently autopsied corpse at the Shanghai city
morgue then going straight to a banquet lunch with the chief pathologist
- being taken on a hair-raising ride in the pitch dark through the backstreets
of Beijing to find the hidden headquarters of the homicide squad
- making 23-hour-long journeys across China on trains where no-one can speak English.
in modern-day China... [May] has extensively researched his novels
and gets right under the skin of his subject every time." Good Book Guide
He has had access to places that few foreigners have ever visited. He has seen:
- 4,000 year old Chinese artefacts at Beijing University private museum of archaeology.
- behind the scenes at the terracotta warriors' museum in Xian
- the Beijing Institute of Forensic Science (part of the Ministry of Public Security)
- the Shanghai police operations center, where banks of television
screens and hi-tech equipment monitor traffic and people across the
Research for the China Thrillers also took him to some unusual locations in the USA
- the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology museum in Washington DC, where he saw the bullet which killed Abraham Lincoln
- death row and the death house in Huntsville prison, Texas.
- the isolation ward in the U.S. bio-warfare unit at Fort
Dettrick, Maryland - where they deal with the most deadly diseases
known to man (he couldn't stop washing his hands after leaving that place).
He uses the latest digital video equipment to make a record of his research.
With a background as a writer and producer of prime time
television drama in Britain, May is at ease using video to help him in
his research. The latest editing software allows him to cut and
play back details of his trips on his computer screen while he is working, allowing him to concentrate on his writing.
"beautifully written and very evocative" Tangled Web
But everything comes at a price, as he found out one dark winter's evening
Guanxi (gwan-shee) is the name for the system in China, where if someone does you a favour, you owe them a favour in return.
several trips to China where he was given total access to
the Beijing and Shanghai police forces, the time came when a car with
blacked out windows turned up to take him to a meeting where he was
asked to repay his debt...
What happened next? Let him tell you in person.
Writer, Gourmet and Chef
Peter May loves Chinese food - or "food" as they call it in
China. He does all the cooking at home and has collected many
recipes on his
travels. If you have a wok, some ingredients and a camping
stove to hand, he'll happily give you a
demonstration of how to make some tasty Chinese treats. He even has
his favourite recipes on his website, and his vivid descriptions of extraordinary Chinese
meals always attract the attention of fans and reviewers.
Speaking of food - he's an expert on dining etiquette in China, too
He can answer those Frequently Asked Questions, such as:
- How many deep-fried scorpions do you have to eat so you don't insult your host?
- What's the best way to eat a Shanghai hairy crab?
- What do you do when a group of Shanghai cops challenges you to a drinking contest?
- How do you cover it when the live shrimps on your plate splash soy sauce over your shirt?
- What do you do when you realise that those poppy seeds on your shrimps have legs and - in fact - they're ants?
A scary catalogue of events from Peter May's stories have later come
true in life. Does he have a window on the future? Does his
writing somehow affect the route the future takes? Or is it all
simply a series of bizarre coincidences? Whatever the explanation
- it makes him concerned about
what he chooses to put on paper next.
Peter May presents a
Chinese feast for thriller lovers...
secret of the Chinese banquet is not only the huge variety of dishes
but the clever balance of flavours: and Peter May’s recipe for success
with his ingenious China Thrillers follows exactly this principle.
Suspense, thrills and mystery...