Thank you for taking the time to visit my website. This is a ‘Simpsonized’ picture of me (I don’t really have skin that colour), and probably more interesting than any other I could find.
Who am I?
A few random facts:
- Christopher Peter is my pen name, not my real one.
- I’m married with three kids.
- I live and work in the UK, in the Oxford area.
- I’ve written a children’s book, Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer, for middle grade / 8-12 year olds.
- I’ve also written two YA novels. BASIC Boy is available on Amazon, while Falling Girl has been serialised for free on this website – click on the cover image below to find it.
- I’m a practising Christian. Something so integral to my life is bound to inform my writing in many ways, though Falling Girl shows a more overt Christian influence than BASIC Boy or Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer.
- My main hobbies / pastimes, in no particular order are: spending time with my family, writing, reading, church stuff. I like walking in the hills but there aren’t too many of those near Oxford so that’s an occasional thing. I’m keen on history (I did a degree in it) and like tramping around old castle ruins, as my family will wearily testify (though my sons do enjoy it too).
- Music: predictably, given my age, I like eighties music, but also some newer stuff. And as my daughter is eleven I’m not too out of touch with the latest music, and I admit some of it’s quite good. All-time favourite pop group is probably the Pet Shop Boys, but I currently love Bastille.
- I don’t watch a great deal of TV. There just isn’t enough time! But my all-time favourite TV show is Doctor Who.
- I’ve been told I use parentheses too much (but I can’t help it).
What do I write?
Fiction. Aside from the novels mentioned above, I’ve written a few short stories, some of which are on this website.
Why do I write?
I’ve always enjoyed it, but hadn’t done much about it until I turned forty. At which point I realised (as many people do upon stumbling over that milestone) that life doesn’t last forever and if there’s something I’d always been meaning to get around to doing, now would be a good time. You could call it my mid-life crisis – but at least it was safer than buying a motorbike and cheaper than taking up golf.
It would be fantastic to inspire children and teenagers to read more and to love books as much as I did, and do. Especially boys, who often need more encouragement than girls to read. It will help them so much in so many aspects of life, as well as being a pleasure in its own right.
For me, there was always something magical about being transported into a make-believe world, of being carried along by a story. A good story is one of the greatest pleasures known to mankind. If I can create something like that, something even half as good as one of those books that has captivated, inspired, entertained or moved me, then that would be wonderful.
I even quite like the grind of it, the sweat as well as the inspiration, the writing and re-writing, drafting and re-drafting. Each of my two novels has gone to at least half a dozen drafts. Writing is like any craft, to be practised and improved like any other.
My dream is to make enough money from writing to be able to do it full time, as my ‘day job’. I’m fully aware how big the odds are against me achieving that – but, hey, I like a challenge. I’ve got so many story ideas and new ones keep elbowing their way into my head, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have enough time to get round to making something of all of them. There just aren’t enough hours in the week.
I could write all day about writing, but that’s for another time…
Why did I opt to self-publish, rather than try to find an agent / publisher?
Don’t get me started. That’s another future blog topic, or possibly a series. The pros and cons of self-versus-conventional publishing are many and varied, and everyone seems to have an opinion, often very strongly expressed. I can see arguments both ways. In fact I did try (a little half-heartedly, it has to be said) to get some attention from literary agents for BASIC Boy, but when I didn’t quickly succeed the lure of being able to get it out there via Amazon proved too strong. Was that the best idea? I still don’t know. The answer I’d give changes every day.
Which writers have influenced my writing / who are my favourites?
There are so many it’s hard to pick out any – but four spring to mind at the moment:
Enid Blyton. I’m utterly unashamed to admit that, as a child, Blyton’s stories were a major reason for the start of my love affair with books. Of course much of her writing seems dated and even un-PC now, and she may never be considered fashionable again. But she was such a gloriously imaginative writer, and her output was phenomenal, albeit often formulaic. Now my eldest son (nine years old) has been more inspired to read by her books than those by newer, trendier authors – and for that I’m grateful.
Robert Westall. My favourite author in my early to mid teens. Most of his stories had a supernatural theme, and this is a key reason why I like ghost stories so much – and it’s no coincidence that my first two novels are ghost stories aimed at this age group. He had a fantastically gritty, terse prose style and his characters were always utterly believable. One of his books – The Scarecrows – remains one of my very favourite novels.
F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’ve only actually read The Great Gatsby, but was so impressed that I had to include him. His prose was just superb.
Erin Kelly. Young British thriller writer, with just three novels to her name so far, but her first (The Poison Tree), has already been adapted for TV. I started with her second, The Sick Rose, and was hooked by her prose, flawed but sympathetic characters and her ability to build and maintain tension to a sometimes almost unbearable degree. And Stephen King has said nice things about her, and who am I to argue with him?
What are my writing plans now?
- I’m currently working on a sequel to Danny Chaucer’s Flying Saucer, and I plan to write at least one more after that too.
- To keep my writing muscles in some kind of shape I’ve also been writing some more short stories / flash fiction. (I’m not an ‘extreme’ practitioner of flash fiction though – 1,000 words is about my favourite length at the moment.)
- At some point I will probably attempt an adult novel. (I mean adult as in for grown-ups, obviously; I’m not going into Fifty Shades of Grey territory.) I already have one idea. (So many ideas, so little time.)
- Now I’ve taken the plunge and started my own website / blog, I want to spend some time on that.
- I think I need to build relationships and networks with some of my fellow writers. It can be a lonely business after all.
- I need to get better at marketing and selling my work. The sad and frustrating fact is that my two novels have sold in microscopic quantities so far, and that’s a situation I’m desperate to improve. And that’s yet another blog topic right there …
And finally … some random things I like …
Digital fun, 80s style: This cool website is chock full of retro 1980s computer games: http://www.80stopgames.com/site/ . Seeing this brought my moderately misspent childhood flooding back. Many of the ZX Spectrum games mentioned in my novel BASIC Boy are here, including the fabulously addictive Manic Miner. Try it. They don’t make ‘em like that any more …
“Who in fiction are you?”: This is a fun little quiz in which you answer a few questions and you are then told what famous fictional character you most resemble. I took the quiz twice; the first time I got Dr Watson, the second Mr Darcy. Both quite flattering really. Whereas one work colleague came out as Dean Moriarty … I shudder to think what answers he gave to get that answer … Try it here: https://frozen-everglades-6644.herokuapp.com/