Peter Stuart Smith was born in Cambridge and had a variety of jobs including working in the operating theatres and mortuary of Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, at a garage and on a factory production line before joining the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm as a pilot. He served for 21 years, a career which included over two years on board the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious during and after the Falklands War, serving for a time with Prince Andrew. Later, he worked at Headquarters Military Air Traffic Operations in London which required continual access to, and work on, a variety of projects classified at and above ‘Top Secret’, including United Kingdom preparations for war and transition to war (the ‘War Book’), and he became very familiar with techniques for intelligence gathering, dissemination and related subjects. During his career he was involved in numerous covert operations.
After leaving the Royal Navy with the rank of Lieutenant Commander, he started a new career as a professional author. He was accepted as a client by one of London’s leading literary agents – Sheil Land Associates – in 2003 and since then has had a succession of successful books, mainly novels, published. He’s now represented by Luigi Bonomi of LBA, who was awarded the title of ‘Literary Agent of the Year’ in 2011.
Writing as ‘James Barrington’, he was published by Macmillan (Overkill, Pandemic, Foxbat, Timebomb,PaybackandManhunt) and by Penguin (Joint Force Harrier – a non-fiction book about Harrier operations in Afghanistan). This book reached number 9 in the UK non-fiction bestseller charts when it was released in paperback, and is still selling consistently today.
As ‘James Becker’, he’s published by Transworld, and his first book for this house – The First Apostle – entered both the UK British and American bestseller charts within a few days of publication. His second novel for Transworld – The Moses Stone – was published in July 2009 and also appeared in the bestseller charts in its first week after release, and his third – The Messiah Secret – achieved significant sales, especially in the United States. The fourth book was The Nosferatu Scroll, released as a mass-market paperback in autumn 2011, and the latest is Echo of the Reich, a thriller set against the backdrop of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Most of these novels are also available as audio books, and many of them have been purchased by foreign publishers, with The First Apostle, for example, being bought by publishers in twelve countries to date, including America and Russia, and all of them are also available as electronic versions for the Kindle. The next Transworld novel will be The Lost Testament, to be published in November 2013, and he has recently signed a further three-book contract with the same publishing house.
He has also written for Macmillan as ‘Max Adams’, and both books in this Second World War series of thrillers – To Do Or Die and Right and Glory – have received excellent reviews.
He’s written two conspiracy thrillers for Simon & Schuster, under a new nom de plume – ‘Jack Steel’. His first book for this publishing house – The Titanic Secret – was published in the spring of 2012, to coincide with the centenary of the sinking of the ocean liner, and thiswas followed by The Ripper Secret, a new take on the murders of Jack the Ripper, published in October 2012.
Recently, he’s also branched out into electronic publishing and has had several books published by The Endeavour Press as Kindle downloads: Trade Off, Sanctuaryand The Dante Conspiracy by ‘Tom Kasey’, Falklands: Voyage to Warand John Browning: Man and Gun-maker by ‘James Barrington’ and Uncommon Sense by ‘Thomas Payne’.
As well as writing, he’s a popular public speaker on cruise ships, particularly on the three Cunard liners, but has also given talks on Celebrity, Crystal, Fred Olsen, Oceania Line,P&O, Saga, Seabourn and Voyages of Discovery ships.
He’s been a guest speaker at various literary functions, including the Nidderdale Literary Festival and the Abu Dhabi Book Fair, and has given numerous talks in libraries and schools.
He divides his time between Andorra in the eastern Pyrenees, Monpazier in France and Sevenoaks in Kent.