Thursday, February 7, 2013

Author Interview – RW Peake

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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG13

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When and why did you begin writing? My first true writing project was a novel I began at 10 about the Soviets (I grew up in the Cold War with the duck and cover drills and testing of the air raid siren every Friday at noon) invading our country. Specifically, the entire invasion was focused on my street in Houston. And me and my friends, using WWII-vintage weapons courtesy of a friend’s father who was a gun collector, fought the Godless Commies to a standstill. You’re welcome America.

How long have you been writing? Uh, since I could write?

When did you first know you could be a writer? Hmmm. When did I know, or when was I told I could be a writer? Because I’ve been pushed to be a writer for almost as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until people started buying my first book that I knew I could do this.

What inspires you to write and why? A good story more than anything.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? Nope.

What genre are you most comfortable writing? Hmmm. Another toughie. Historical fiction will probably always be my macro genre. Obviously, because of the last 4 years that I spent immersed in the subject, Ancient Rome is an area where I’m comfortable. But ironically as much as I know about Rome, my true wheelhouse is the American Civil War. It’s what I studied as my area of focus for my History degree. I have ambitions to cover that era one day.

What inspired you to write your first book? My FIRST first book? That’s the one I wrote when I was 10 about the Soviet invasion. I was inspired to write about scenes of gore and violence, with exploding heads and falling guts. As I recall, there was a lot of that.

But my first adult novel wasn’t Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul. It’s another book set in our times, titled Damning Secrets. But for reasons I won’t go into it won’t be published for a while. I was inspired to write it by a girlfriend who said, “You should write about your life.” So I did, although it’s a fictionalized account. For example, the main character is writing from Death Row shortly before his execution. So far, that hasn’t happened.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began? Louis L’Amour was a huge influence on my writing from the very beginning. In fact, in my Soviet invasion novel, you can track when I was introduced to his Westerns by the sudden shifting of location. My friends and I loaded up our riding lawnmowers (the one thing I knew how to drive at that age) and puttered up to Colorado, where we traded in our modern weaponry for trusty six-shooters and Winchesters and the lawnmowers for horses. We would mosey on into town and slap leather with the Russkies, then ride out hell-bent for leather. Good times.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? Finishing it. I can mark the point where I went from “a guy who writes” to “writer” when I sat down and actually finished my first adult novel, the Damning Secrets title that I mentioned. And that’s what I tell other young writers now. If you start something, finish it. Go back and tweak it, revise it, modify it all that other stuff AFTER you finish it. Because until you actually finish a project, you’re just dabbling.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it? It taught me to wear socks with my Roman Legionary sandals, even if the Romans didn’t. Our feet are way too soft. It also taught me that the best way to truly understand your character is to try and put yourself as much as possible in their shoes, no pun intended. I wouldn’t suggest going as far as I went, buying the entire kit of a Roman Republican Legionary and going to the remotest park in the continental U.S., Big Bend National Park, and go humping through the desert. But I did learn a lot from it.

Do you intend to make writing a career? Judging from the success I’m having, I would be stupid not to. So yes, it IS my career.

Have you developed a specific writing style? I’m sure I have, but I’ll leave that to others to determine. I write the way I write, and people seem to enjoy it. That’s as far as I’ve gone to analyze it.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? According to my readers, it’s my ability to make a strong connection between the reader and character, particularly when it comes to their physical world and the challenges that come with it. “It’s like I was there” is a pretty common comment in my reviews. So I guess it would be that.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? Nope. Never. Not once. Ever. And I don’t know why, but it makes it hard for me to relate to other writers who talk about it. I just don’t have a frame of reference for it.

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