20 April 2011

My Guest Peter St John

Peter’s "real life"  career began shortly after the Second World War, as a military pilot. He then became a Chartered Engineer working in aerospace research. This took him to Woomera in the Australian desert, to four years' residence in Paris and to the European Space Centre in French Guiana. He also worked in a project management team for the Royal Australian Navy.
As a writer, he has prepared numerous technical papers and reports including a two-volume reference compendium on the parliaments of the world.

He now lives in France where, from retirement he is president of a cultural association - and  has written eight novels.

Hello Peter - welcome to my guest blog
Peter - thank you for inviting me!

HH How did you start writing?
PsJ-  9.11. The awful day of the Twin Towers. I was at my computer to start writing a commentary on a subject that had intrigued me all my life. I didn't get beyond the first line; the telephone rang. My caller insisted that I turn on the television.
The next day, I began again on what was intended to be the introduction to my commentary. My fingers flew over the keyboard. I tapped non-stop for seven hours. Then abruptly the tapping stopped. I stretched my aching fingers and went to the bathroom. But what had I really written on this soul-searching twelfth day of September 2001? Strangely I didn't know. To find out, I had to read my text. It turned out to be a whimsically humorous conversation between an ordinary man and God. I entitled it “Hey God!”, and then wondered what to do with it. I showed it to several publishers but none of them was interested. Some may even have considered it blasphemous. That perhaps mattered for them.

If you’d like to know more, you could perhaps take a look at http://www.peterstjohn.net/ and maybe the blog of my principal heroine at http://jennospot.blogspot.com/

Just in case you're interested, the commentary did eventually get written. It is highly unconventional. The principal subject is the Gospel according to John. No publisher seemed to want it, so I turned it into a novel called "Triple Agent". The original manuscript still lies in the drawer alongside "Hey God!" and the incomplete ninth novel.

HH  what made you write about children during the war - were you an evacuee?
PsJ-  Yes, I was an evacuee; and to some extent, the adventures in the “Gang” books are drawn from personal experience. This said, I did not really set out to write about children during the war. My intention was to explore relationships in a small community during the difficult and hazardous conditions of war. Certainly the narrator is a child, and the events are seen from his youthful standpoint. But many adults are also involved and the narrative takes account of their attitudes and prejudices; some of then no less naïve than those of the children. From this derives much of the humour and dramatic tension.

HH what age group do you think the “Gang” books are best suited for?
PsJ-  My short answer is nine to ninety-nine. I believe the “Gang” books can be read and enjoyed at several levels. I accordingly had no particular age group in mind when writing them, and have too much respect for the intelligence of children to “write down” to them by using over-simplified language.

HH what is your next book going to be about?
PsJ- What a terrifying question! I’m still proof-reading “Gang Spies” and trying to put more polish on it. So this is the first time I’ve given any thought to the matter. There are now six “Gang” books. Seven would make a respectable number for a series, but what could be the theme of the seventh? Perhaps how the village gangs cope with the havoc created when the US Air Force sets up a base nearby. On the other hand, it could be interesting to attempt something completely different. For example, explore the meaning of that abused four-letter word “love”: Old Testament love, linked to vengeful divine justice; New Testament love, so nearly synonymous with hierarchical obedience; Koranic love, too often interpreted as political imperative and outsider intolerance; Buddhic love, seen as compassionate passive acceptance; and finally carnal love, presented as self-seeking sexual gratification. The story could contrast all the foregoing with an unconditional, transcendental love. Well, we shall see… Insha’Allah.

HH Finally Peter, you can invite 10 dinner guests - who would you choose?
PsJ- My dinner guests I've balanced evenly between five women and five men. I've chosen them with the idea that each would find at least one other compatible table companion (although I believe all of them are reasonably understanding people, and fairly easy to get on with, though language might create a problem). They are: Queen Elizabeth I; Emmeline Pankhurst; Shirley MacLaine; Jane Parker-Smith (concert organist); Kate O'Hearn (children's author); Joseph of Arimathaea: Roi Henri IV of France; Johann Sebastian Bach; Hendrik Willem Van Loon; and Konrad Lorenz.

::: Stop Pres News! :::

“Gang Warfare” was launched today on Amazon Kindle, to join 
“Gang Territory” and “Gang Petition.” 
Next title is to be “Gang Rivalry”.
Good Luck with those Peter.....

..... patter of tapping keyboard keys as Helen dashes off to upload 
them onto her Kindle.....

Peter will be touring England from 6th-16th May
and on 
Wednesday 11 May he will be in Lincoln (UK) to make a presentation during the Lincoln Book Festival, on do-it-yourself paperbacking.
Peter wonders who'll be sufficiently interested to attend?

Oh lots of people Peter - lots of people!

next time: US author William Hammond

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Peter. Good luck at the Lincoln Book Festival. Tickets are now on sale for your event, £3, from the Drill Hall Box office. 01522 873894

    You have had an interesting life, and are a prolific writer, but what made you decide to channel so much through the voice of a cockney kid called Jennno?


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.