Peter May author of The Lewis
                Trilogy
Peter May
                author of the Lewis Trilogy
Peter May author of The
                Lewis Trilogy
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About Peter May

"Peter May is an author I'd follow to the ends of the earth"
The New York Times

"a shining and outstanding example of Scotland's rich literary talent"
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

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Brief Bio

Peter May is the multi award-winning author of:
  • the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland;
  • the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell;
  • the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France;
  • and several standalone books, including the multi award-winning Entry Island (January 2014, Quercus UK) and his latest Runaway (Quercus 2015).
He has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

One of Scotland's most prolific television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama.  He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the highest-rated serials in his homeland before quitting television to concentrate on his first love, writing novels.

Born and raised in Scotland he lives in France.

After being turned down by all the major UK publishers, the first of the The Lewis Trilogy - The Blackhouse - was published in France as L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux where it was hailed as "a masterpiece" by the French national newspaper L'Humanité.  His novels have a large following in France.  The trilogy has won several French literature awards, including one of the world's largest adjudicated readers awards, the Prix Cezam.

The Blackhouse was published in English by the award-winning Quercus (a relatively young publishing house which did not exist when the book was first presented to British publishers).  It went on to become an international best seller, and was shortlisted for both Barry Award and Macavity Award when it was published in the USA.

The Blackhouse won the US Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel at Bouchercon in Albany NY, in 2013,

Entry Island won the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2014 and the ITV Specsavers Crime Thriller Club Best Read of the Year 2014.




Peter May with Barry
                        Award for The Blackhouse

Peter May with Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel for The Blackhouse



Full Biographical Details

From the beginning...
Peter's childhood dream was to be a novelist and he spent his childhood and teen years writing. 

Scottish Young Journalist of the Year
Journalism seemed like a reasonable career choice for a writer, and no sooner was he in his first post than he won the Scottish Young Journalist of the Year Award at the age of 21. 
But the pull of fiction continued, and every spare moment was spent on creative writing.  His dedication was rewarded with the publication of his first novel at the age of 26.  The novel was to become a major BBC television drama series and change the direction of his writing career.

One of Scotland's Most Prolific and Popular TV Dramatists
May left journalism and began writing television drama.  By the age of 30 he had created two major TV series, The Standard and Squadron, for the British television network, the BBC. He went on to garner more than 1000 TV credits in fifteen years and became one of Scotland's most successful television writers, creating and writing prime-time drama serials for both BBC and ITV in the UK. 
In his homeland, he guided the top-rated Take the High Road as script editor and scriptwriter through its most successful era, when the show regularly topped the viewing charts in Scotland and achieved an audience of 6 million viewers across the UK.
In the 1990s, he co-created the ground-breaking Machair, the first ever major drama serial in the Gaelic language, which he also produced.  Machair was described by Kenneth Roy, the television critic of the broadsheet Scotland on Sunday as:
"quite simply the best thing to have happened to television in Scotland for a long time."
In spite of the fact that fewer than 2% of the Scottish population can speak Gaelic, the show - subtitled into English -  achieved a 30% audience share and made it into the Top Ten of programmes viewed in Scotland.

Award-Winning China Thrillers
With the approach of the new millennium, May quit television to return to his first love, novels, and embarked on a series of thrillers which took him half-way across the world.  Peter May made annual trips to China, spending months at a time there, building an extraordinary network of contacts. 
He gained unprecedented access to the homicide and forensic science sections of Beijing and Shanghai police forces and made a painstaking study of the methodology of Chinese detectives and pathologists. 
His outstanding China Thrillers series of books, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and Forensic patholigist from Chicago, Margaret Campbell are now published worldwide.  The books have been short-listed in France for Elle Magazine's Best Crime Novel in 2005 and the Prix Polar International in 2008.  In 2007 Snakehead won the Prix Intramuros.

Member of Chinese Crime Writers Association
As a mark of their respect for his work, Chinese Crime Writers in the Beijing Chapter, made Peter an Honorary Member of The Chinese Crime Writers' Association He is the only Westerner to receive such an honour.

Critical Acclaim for "cerebral" Enzo Files
His latest series of books, The Enzo Files, is set in France.  Hailed by author Steve Berry as "intelligent... and ingenious", several reviewers have praised the cerebral nature of the cold case investigations tackled by the Scottish forensic scientist Enzo Macleod.  Realism and humour also feature and the endearingly flawed hero has deen described as "a cross between James Bond and Inspector Clouseau"

Research and Factual Accuracy
May only writes about settings and locations that he has actually visited personally and continues to take his research seriously for the series set in France.  Just as research for the China Thrillers meant trips to places such as the Shanghai police morgue and the American Ambassador's residence in Beijing, research for the Enzo Files has taken him from the Paris sewers to Michelin 3-star restaurants (he recently gained access to the kitchen of France's top chef, Michel Bras, to spend three days shadowing him in his work). 

Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Dive Bouteille
The second in the Enzo Files series, The Critic, tells a story set in the world of French wine production.  The research involved May picking grapes by hand, studying the process of wine-making from vine to marketing, and taking a formal wine tasting course.  As a reward for his efforts, he was inducted as a Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Dive Bouteille de Gaillac in December 2007 in recognition of his knowledge and support of the wines of Gaillac.

Professional Private Eye
In search of a new setting for his 2010 thriller, Virtually Dead, May entered the virtual world of Second Life in 2007, creating his own avatar, Flick Faulds, to explore the metaverse.  Faulds set up a detective agency to help May in his research, handling dozens of Second Life investigations for real (paying) clients.  The cases ranged from stalking and “griefing”, to fraud and infidelity, and enabled May to gather invaluable background and insights for his book.

Background to May's Lewis Trilogy
The Blackhouse is the first of three books set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. 
May's link to Lewis and the Gaidhealtachd is a personal one.  For five years in the 1990s, May spent five months each year in the Outer Hebrides during the making of the 99 episodes of Machair. As producer and creator of the drama serial, he was in charge of a 70-strong cast and crew living and working on the island. 
The landscape and the life there had a profound effect on May and have provided the inspiration for his Lewis Trilogy, and his connections were renewed when he returned to research the new books.

The Blackhouse
"The Blackhouse is a crime novel of rare power and vision.
It is a murder mystery that explores the shadows in our souls,
set in a place where the past is ever near the surface,
and life blurs into myth and history."
(cover copy)
The Blackhouse was first published in France as L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux after it was initially turned down by all the major British publishers.  Hailed as "a masterpiece" by the French daily newspaper L'Humanité, it went on to be published all over Europe and was finally bought by British publishers Quercus who published it in February 2011 (Quercus is a young award-winning publishing house that wasn't around when The Blackhouse was first presented to British publishers).  The Blackhouse has been published all over the world.

The Blackhouse was chosen by Richard & Judy for their Book Club's autumn 2011 list and became a best-seller in UK hardback, paperback and e-book versions.  It won Les Ancres Noires Prix des Lecteurs at Le Havre in 2010, and in October 2010, it won one of the world's biggest adjudicated readers' prizes, the Prix Cezam.

The Blackhouse was shortlisted for the Barry Award and the Macavity Award when it was published in the USA.  It won the Barry Award for Best Mystery Novel at Bouchercon in Albany NY, in 2013.

The Lewis Man
the second novel in May's Isle of Lewis trilogy is as good as its superb predecessor"

The Guardian


May followed the success of The Blackhouse with the second book in his Lewis Trilogy, The Lewis Man. The book was praised on both sides of the channel.  In 2012, May won the French daily newspaper, Le Télégramme's Grand Prix de Lecteurs, which came with a 10,000 Euro prize, and made history by being the only author in the history of Le Havre's Les Ancres Noires, to win their Prix des Lecteurs twice. The Lewis Man also won the Prix Polar International at the Cognac festival of Crime Writing.

It was shortlisted in the UK for the Crime Writing Association's, Dagger in the Library Award, Bloody Scotland's Scottish Crime Book of the Year 2012, and the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2013. 

The hardback spent 18 weeks in the UK hardback bestsellers list, peaking at #4.


The Chessmen
"the rich texture ... elevating them above most contemporary crime fiction."
"Although all three books may be read as standalones, their cumulative effect is more powerful."
"The Chessmen offers an almost visceral experience: we, too, are walking these windy cliffs and peat bogs with Fin. Readers will find it hard to say goodbye to him, but we have to admire May for sticking to his vision of a perfectly-formed trilogy."
The Independent

The final book in the trilogy The Chessmen was published in France in October 2012 and UK in January 2013.  It won the  won the Prix Polar International at the Cognac festival of Crime Writing.

The hardback entered the UK charts at #4 and went on to spend 23 weeks in the UK hardback bestsellers list.

STANDALONE BOOKS
Peter's recent works have been standalone books, in other words single novels, not forming part of any series.  In 2014 Entry Island was published, it won the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2014 and the ITC Specsavers Crime Thriller Club Best Read of the Year 2014.

Runaway, was published in the UK in January 2015.

His latest book Coffin Road was published in the UK in January 2016.

Peter May is married to writer Janice Hally and lives in South West France.

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Awards and Nominations

FRENCH AWARDS
Peter's work is very popular in his adopted home of France.  He has won several French literature prizes...

In 2007, May won the French Crime Literature Award, the PRIX INTRAMUROS for the French edition of his China Thriller Snakehead, at the 2007 Cognac "Polar&Co" Festival.  This unusual award is decided by juries of detainees in French Penitentiaries.

In 2010, May won the French Book Award, the PRIX DES LECTEURS at Le Havre's Les Ancres Noires crime writing festival for L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux the French edition of The Blackhouse.  This award is decided by juries of readers in 23 libraries in the area around Le Havre who vote on a shortlist of 21 books during the year.  It was the first time in the history of the award that the winner was the unanimous choice of the voters.

In 2011, May won the French Literature Prize, the PILP (Prix Inter Lycées Professionels) for L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux the French edition of The Blackhouse.  This award is judged by students in lycées across Northwestern France from a shortlist of 10 books from all over Europe.


In 2011, May won the National French Literature Prize, the PRIX CEZAM INTER-CE for L'Ile des Chasseurs d'Oiseaux the French edition of The Blackhouse.  This award is decided by 3500 jurors from all over France.

In 2012, May won the 10,000 Euro French Literature award, the GRAND PRIX DES LECTEURS DU TELEGRAMME for L'Homme de Lewis the French edition of The Lewis Man.  This award is decided by readers of France's Le Télégramme newspaper.

In 2012, May won the French Book Award, the PRIX DES LECTEURS at Le Havre's Les Ancres Noires crime writing festival for L'Homme de Lewis the French edition of The Lewis Man.  It was the first time in the history of the award that an author has won the award twice.

In 2012, May won the French Crime Literature Award, the PRIX POLAR INTERNATIONAL for the French Edition of the second book in his Lewis Trilogy, The Lewis Man, at the Cognac Festival de Polar.

IIn 2015, May won the TROPE 813, awarded by the French Magazine REVIEW 813, for the Best Foreign Crime Novel, for L'Île du Serment, the French edition of Entry Island.

FULL LIST

Awards and shortlistings from France, UK and USA


***
TROPHÉE 813
FOREIGN CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR
2015
Review 813 Magazine Award (France)

WINNER: ENTRY ISLAND (L'Île du Serment)

***

DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
2015
UK Crime Writers' Association
Prize awarded for an author's body of work
Shortlisted

***

MACAVITY AWARD
BEST MYSTERY NOVEL (USA)

2015
Shortlisted: THE LEWIS MAN

***

THEAKSTON'S OLD PECULIER
CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR (UK)
2015
Shortlisted: ENTRY ISLAND


***

SPECSAVERS DAGGER AWARD
ITV Crime Thriller Club Best Read of the Year (UK)
2014
WINNER: ENTRY ISLAND

***

Deanston
SCOTTISH CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR
2014
Bloody Scotland Festival
WINNER: ENTRY ISLAND

***

THEAKSTON'S OLD PECULIER
CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR (UK)
2014
Shortlisted: THE CHESSMEN


***

BARRY AWARD
BEST CRIME NOVEL (USA)
2013
WINNER: THE BLACKHOUSE

***


MACAVITY AWARD
BEST MYSTERY NOVEL (USA)
2013
Shortlisted: THE BLACKHOUSE

***

THEAKSTON'S OLD PECULIER
CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR (UK)
2013
Shortlisted: THE LEWIS MAN

***

SCOTTISH CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR

2012
Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival
Shortlisted: THE LEWIS MAN

***

DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY
2012
UK Crime Writers' Association
Prize awarded for an author's body of work
Shortlisted


***

PRIX POLAR INTERNATIONAL
COGNAC, FRANCE
2012

Salon Polar & co
WINNER: THE LEWIS MAN (L'Homme de Lewis)


***

PRIX DES LECTEURS
LE HAVRE, FRANCE
2012

Les Ancres Noires
WINNER: THE LEWIS MAN (L'Homme de Lewis)


  ***

PRIX DES LECTEURS DU TELEGRAMME
BREST, FRANCE
2012

WINNER: THE LEWIS MAN (L'Homme de Lewis)

  ***

PRIX LITTERAIRE
CEZAM INTER CE, FRANCE
2011

French national literature prize,
WINNER: THE BLACKHOUSE (L'Ile des Chasseurs d’Oiseaux)


  ***

2011 PILP
(Prix Inter Lycées Professionels
NANTES, FRANCE
2011

WINNER: THE BLACKHOUSE (L'Île des Chasseurs d'OIseaux)


  ***

PRIX DES LECTEURS
LE HAVRE, FRANCE
2010

Les Ancres Noires
WINNER: THE BLACKHOUSE (L'Île des Chasseurs d'OIseaux)


  ***

PRIX POLAR INTERNATIONAL
COGNAC, FRANCE
2012

Salon Polar & co
Shortlisted: THE BLACKHOUSE (L'Ile des Chasseurs d’Oiseaux)

  ***

PRIX DES LECTEURS
VILLENEUVE LEZ AVIGNON, FRANCE
2010

Festival du Polar
Shortlisted: THE BLACKHOUSE (L'Ile des Chasseurs d’Oiseaux)

  ***

PRIX POLAR INTERNATIONAL
COGNAC, FRANCE
2008

Salon Polar & co
Shortlisted: CHINESE WHISPERS (L'Eventreur de Pékin)

  ***

PRIX INTRAMUROS
COGNAC, FRANCE
2007

Salon Polar & co
WINNER: SNAKEHEAD (Cadavres Chinois a Houston)


 ***

PRIX POLAR INTERNATIONAL
COGNAC, FRANCE
2007

Salon Polar & co
Shortlisted: SNAKEHEAD (Cadavres Chinois a Houston)

  ***

ELLE MAGAZINE
GRAND PRIX
2006

Category: Best Crime Novel
Shortlisted: THE FIREMAKER (Meurtres à Pékin)

***

17th International Celtic Film and Television Festival 1996
Category: Best Drama Serial
Shortlisted: MACHAIR

***
The FRASER Award 1973
Scottish Young Journalist of the Year

WINNER

***


Chronology


1951 born
Glasgow, Scotland

1969 DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL SAVINGS, GLASGOW
Clerical Officer (Worked for three months in the ledgers department calculating interest on savings accounts beofre running away to London)

1969-1970 ANDERSON'S (NEWTON MEARNS) LTD.
Trainee Car Salesman

1970-1971 EDINBURGH COLLEGE of COMMERCE
Course in Journalism

1971-1974 JOURNALIST - PAISLEY DAILY EXPRESS
News and Features Reporter
* Winner of the 1973 Fraser Award for Scotland's Young Journalist of the Year.


1974-1978 JOURNALIST - THE SCOTSMAN
Reporter

1978-79 JOURNALIST - GLASGOW EVENING TIMES
News Background Writer

 
1979 - 1993 NOVELIST, TELEVISION SCRIPTWRITER, EDITOR AND CREATOR

1993 - 1996 FREELANCE TELEVISION PRODUCER

1996 - Present NOVELIST

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Producer Credits

Machair (1993 - 1996) Gaelic Drama Serial
'Machair' was shot entirely on location on the Isle of Lewis and was made by Scottish Television and broadcast by Scottish and Grampian, and later BBC Alba.
May was co-creator and producer of the series which was shortlisted in the category of Best Drama Series at the Celtic Film Festival of 1996. Having been Associate Producer since the series began in 1992, May took over as Producer in 1993 and left in 1996 after 99 episodes.
The series continued with another producer but ratings fell and it was canceled in 1998.

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Writing (novels and television)

Coffin Road (2016) Novel
Standalone thriller set on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides.

Runaway (2015) Novel
Standalone mystery about a group of friends in their 60s retracing the steps of their teenage years to settle a 50-year-old score.

Entry Island (2014) Novel
Standalone thriller split between contemporary Magdalen Islands in Quebec, and in 19th century Outer Hebrides of Scotland.


Hebrides (2013) Photographic book
Photo companion book comprising photographs of locations described in The Lewis Trilogy together with Peter May's story of his connections with Outer Hebrides of Scotland. 

The Chessmen (2013) Novel.
Third of the Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. 


The Lewis Man (2012) Novel.
Second of the Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. 


The Blackhouse (2011) Novel.
First of the Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.  The Blackhouse is described as:
"...a crime novel of rare power and vision.
A page-turning murder mystery that explores the darkness in our souls, and just how difficult it is to escape the past." 

Virtually Dead (2010) Novel.
A standalone thriller set in the metaverse of Second Life featuring crime-scene photographer Michael Kapinsky. 

Blowback (2011) Novel
The fifth of the Enzo Files series in which Enzo tries to uncover the truth about the death of one of France's top chefs.


Freeze Frame (2010) Novel.
The fourth of the Enzo Files series takes Enzo to a remote Breton island and room that contains the last secrets of a murdered man.

Blacklight Blue (2008) Novel.
The third of the Enzo Files series sees Enzo facing the most serious threats to his life and his family.

The Critic (also publishedin USA as A Vintage Corpse) (2007) Novel.
The second of the Enzo Files series, featuring Enzo Macleod.  The Critic involves the death of a wine critic and is set among the vineyards of the Gaillac region of South West France.

Extraordinary People (also published in USA as Dry Bones) (2006) Novel.
The first of the Enzo Files series. New series featuring Enzo Macleod, a Scottish biology professor teaching in a university in France.  As the result of a bet, the former forensic scientist gets involved in applying the latest technology to some of France's most famous unsolved murders.

Chinese Whispers (2004) Novel.
The sixth in the China Thrillers series pits Li Yan and Margaret Campbell against an unscrupulous foe who could prove to be their deadliest enemy yet - a serial killer who calls himself the Beijing Ripper. The media and terror-sticken public are demanding a fast result and Li Yan, the head of Beijing's serious crime squad, finds himself in the spotlight.

The Runner (2003) Novel
The fifth in the series of China Thrillers. Li Yan and Margaret Campbell are back in Beijing to solve a series of murders which threatens the future of international athletics as the city prepares to host the 2008 Olympics.

Snakehead (2002) Novel
The fourth in the China series, follows Beijing cop, Li Yan, and Chicago pathologist, Margaret Campbell to the USA. The Hodder & Stoughton hardback was on the shelves from January, 2002. The Coronet paperback out in May, 2002.

The Killing Room (2000) Novel
The third in the China series, following the investigations and relationship of Beijing cop, Li Yan, and Chicago pathologist, Margaret Campbell. The hardback was published by Hodder & Stoughton in December, 2000, and the Coronet paperback appeared in May, 2001.

The Fourth Sacrifice (2000) Novel
Sequel to The Firemaker. Published in hardback by Hodder & Stoughton in January, 2000, followed by the Coronet paperback in May.

The Firemaker (1999) Novel
Dark eco-thriller set in Beijing. Researched and written during 1997. Published by Hodder & Stoughton in May, 1999.

Machair (1992 - 1993) Gaelic Drama Serial
Co-Creator/Writer/Associate Producer
Gaelic drama serial produced by Scottish Television. Wrote sixteen scripts during the first three series, and co-storylined the first thirteen episodes.

The Noble Path (1992) Novel
Novel set in South-East Asia during the rise and fall of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Published in the UK by Piatkus.

Take The High Road (1980 - 1992) Drama Serial
Scriptwriter/Story Editor/Script Editor
Drama Serial produced by Scottish Television. Script Editor between 1981 and 1986, and Story Editor between 1986 and 1988, when the show was at the peak of its success, being broadcast twice weekly in all ITV regions and regularly achieving afternoon audience figures in excess of six million. Between 1980 and 1992, wrote more than 200 episodes.

The Ardlamont Mystery (1985) Dramatisation
A single play dramatisation of a real-life murder produced by BBC Scotland for the BBC Network as part of a series titled MURDER NOT PROVEN.

Squadron (1982) Drama Series
Writer/Co-Creator
Produced by BBC London for the Network, this was a drama series of ten one-hour episodes about an RAF rapid deployment squadron.

Hidden Faces (1981) Novel
Published was a political thriller set in Brussels published in the UK by Piatkus.

Fallen Hero (1979) Novelisation
This was a novelisation of the Granada television series of the same name, written by Brian Finch. Published by N.E.L.

The Reporter (1978) Novel
A novel based upon characters created for the BBC television drama series, THE STANDARD. Published by Corgi.

The Standard (1978) Drama Series
Writer/Co-Creator
Made by BBC Scotland for the BBC Network, this was a thirteen-part drama series of one-hour episodes set in a newspaper office.

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Current Projects

Peter is currently writing the final book in The Enzo Files series.

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