Peter James, the author of The House on Cold Hill, now being staged as a play at Cambridge Arts Theatre, says it was inspired by what happened to him and his former wife in 1988.

Peter James, the author of The House on Cold Hill, now being staged as a play at Cambridge Arts Theatre, says it was inspired by what happened to him and his former wife in 1988.

The play is about a couple, Ollie (played by Joe McFadden) and Caro (Rita Simons - Roxy Mitchell in EastEnders) who having sold a web design business have the money to buy a country house.

They've been townies all their lives and they decide to follow the dream buying a big old wreck moving to it with the idea that it's going to be their forever home and they are going to spend the next ten years restoring it. Then they find out that they may not the only people living in it.

This is a modern ghost story that brings in Facebook and Alexa.

James says: "Ghosts are not necessarily Victorian Gothic, so the ghosts in the play can use computers, as they did in the book. Audiences are in for lots of shocks.

The House On Cold Hill is a thriller so I hope they'll be getting some nice scares along the way along with the twists and turns in the story.

He described how impressed he was with Shaun McKenna's adaptation of the play.

"Writing novels is a very different process. I'll have maybe 20 or 30 characters in a novel but it's not economical to have more than between five and nine characters in a touring stage play. Shaun has to condense those and also the locations because the House On Cold Hill novel moves around between a graveyard, a vicarage, a school, Brighton and Sussex, whereas with the play we're confined to the interior of a house."

Asked what Joe McFadden and Rita Simons bring to the lead roles. he said: " What's really important with any cast, as with characters on the pages of a book, is that the audiences in the theatre and the readers of the book like them and connect with them - even with the bad people because the best villains are those we care about.

"Joe and Rita both have a great warmth about them. Instantly audiences will go 'I like these people' and then they'll be going 'Oh

no, they're in terrible danger'. It's the same with Ollie and Caro's daughter Jade (Persephone Swales-Dawson), who is this sweet kid. The more you care about somebody the more you fear for them."

The House on Cold Hill is at Cambridge Arts Theatre from May 20-25. 7.45pm with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets, £24-£43 from 01223 503333 or cambridgeartstheatre.com.