Updated: Jan 4
I have a terrible memory, so I can't tell you how the conversation started, but I can tell you that Peter took a chance on me and my books. I lured him in with a wine and chaos-filled post about my first book (Curse of the Vampire but previously titled Birth of the Bacchae) in the Fans of Urban Fantasy Facebook group. The book turned out to be something he wouldn't normally read, but he still enjoyed it! And then he went on to read the next two books as well. 🥰
Peter is all about promoting authors through his Facebook page, Buckmaster Books, by running giveaways, interviewing authors, and sharing the book love. I'm thrilled to help promote his work through this interview, and I'm really looking forward to reading his books this year!
BIO: Peter was born and raised in the UK, with a couple of years in California slipped in. He studied philosophy at Warwick University and then headed to Japan with the JET Programme. After two years in Rikuzen-Takata, he returned to England where he met his Japanese wife. Married a year later, back to Japan and now in Yokohama with their two sons.
How did you come up with the story concept for The Old Wounds trilogy?
The Old Wounds trilogy was actually born from one scene I wrote for a Creative Writing course I took some years ago. I had a conversation between a young lady and a lord, and it revealed all sorts of truths to the reader and each character. That scene now exists at the end of part 1 of Ragnekai Winds. That was the seed of everything and from there it grew. I'm definitely a gardener-writer, not an architect. I have an arc for five trilogies/one saga in my mind, but I prefer to let the details grow organically. I really enjoy the times where you hit a problem in your story, maybe a character's motivation doesn't make sense, or you need a reason for someone to be somewhere. I go for a walk and roll it over in my mind, and I can usually find a solution. What is even better is that this quite often leads to new possibilities or adds weight to something that already exists in the story. By the way, please don't judge my writing by my actual garden as it is an unholy mess. I swear even the birds shake their heads in dismay.
What do you love about writing fantasy? What do you hate (or maybe just dislike) about it?
I love writing fantasy because I love fantasy! I'm not sure what sub-genre my work would inhabit in fantasy. I say it is fantasy with an emotional core, where we see the consequences of every action, no matter how small. I want the reader to feel the grief and happiness of the characters. I want them to sympathise with each, maybe not liking them but understanding why they do what they do or are how they are. Not really answering the question here, am I?! I would say one aspect of fantasy that makes the above more enjoyable to write is that fantasy worlds tend to be more primitive than the modern world. Life is harder, more dangerous even. But this gives it a simplicity. We can bring the story down to the fundamental emotions all humans feel. And then we can let our imagination run wild and add the wonder!
When it comes to world-building do you have any particular tricks or techniques?
The second half of the previous question and the next question are perhaps connected. The world-building is something I love about fantasy, but it is also the aspect I fear the most! No limits to your world is a double-edged sword. You can do anything you want, and this means you can really screw it up and logic disintegrates.
The fantasy world I have created for the saga is Urami, which is Japanese for "grudge". I liked the idea that the world itself is a character and a bit angry. I try to base all my cultures upon real-world existing ones. One reason for this is that I love languages (I would have been working in languages now if I hadn't decided to take a sharp left and study philosophy at university!) and looking into language, culture and religion is absolutely fascinating. With the fantasy world-building comes real-world discovery.
What was the most difficult part of the publishing process for you?
The short and obvious answer would be the selling aspect! Can’t seem to crack that nut. Other than that, I guess I have two areas that I find particularly difficult. The first is the tech side of things. I’m not hopeless with computers but I do seem to be cursed. Things just don’t work the way they should, and I don’t mean they way they should in my utopian world where computers are Star Trek-level and have a gorgeously soothing voice. Not doing what it says on the tin basically. Saying all that though, I have learned a fair bit watching YouTube videos. Only problem is that I forget it all by the time I’m ready to do the next book.
The second area is selling myself. I am British and live in Japan, so a reserved chap living in a society that doesn’t exactly encourage people to shout out about their latest achievement. I’ve read that all authors really need to get used to marketing themselves but my whole brand of humour is based upon self-deprecation so…
What does your writing space look like?
Erm, can I skip this one? I have a wonderful book-case to my left with many fantastic reads (Nice!); a pile of boxes & packing in the corner, ready to send out prizes etc. when the postal service starts doing air-mail again (Useful but a mess!); my desk that houses the old PC and the one I use (said desk is littered with D&D dice, sugarless chewing gum, and a couple of “memories” – mini-bust of Socrates and a little throne from Wales); to my right is the printer, and then the rest of the room looks like a storage room that people long ago ceased to bother being neat & tidy with. I blame the staff at Buckmaster Books, to be honest with you.
What are your tricks for juggling writing while maintaining a personal life?
My wife has the career and I have been the main carer for our two sons, so I am fortunate not to have juggle a full-time job with writing. Saying that, I have to drop writing and juggle the schedules of my wife and two sons (work, school, sports clubs, taiko practice), and then pick up the writing when all the other plates are spinning happily away. I am in awe of authors who write in the evenings after a day at work, time with the kids and whatever household chores they can manage. At 9pm I have about as much energy as an empty bottle of Lucozade (for the Brits here!).
What's the best piece of advice you've received about writing?
Not personally received but I keep these thoughts with me.
First one is: “Write the story you want to write, not the story you think people want to read.” This is something I live by, in terms of writing.
Second one ran something like: “Keep your eyes on the horizon/destination. You’ll get there.”
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I’ve read some great books this year (yours included!) but if I had to choose one (well, two), I’d pick “Senlin Ascends” and its sequel, “Arm of the Sphinx” by Josiah Bancroft. The story and characters are wonderful, but it’s the writing itself that is a sheer joy to read. It harkens back to a more literary age (think Tolkien) but is very accessible and you never feel bogged down. I believe there are two more in the series.