I’m delighted to be featuring an interview with Peter Jones today. I ‘met’ Peter through the blogger and author Facebook group Book Connectors and wouldn’t let him get away without being interviewed on Linda’s Book Bag. Peter’s latest book The Truth About This Charming Man was released in e-book and paperback in March 2016 and is available for purchase here.
The Truth About This Charming Man
All William Lewis ever wanted in life, was to be an actor.
That is until he met Rachel.
Beautiful. Beguiling. Sharp as a tack. Rachel’s almost as appealing as a life in theatre. Unfortunate then that she happens to be married. To cut-throat venture capitalist Michael Richmond. So that’s the end of that.
Or is it?
Although Will’s never actually been on stage, or immortalised in celluloid, or appeared in a TV commercial, he’s still made a reasonable living out of pretending to be people he’s not. So when two of his ‘roles’ collide – seemingly by complete coincidence – well, maybe there’s a way he can be with Rachel after all…
From best-selling author Peter Jones comes this hilarious romp about love, truth, deception, and the spaces in-between.
An Interview with Peter Jones
Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Peter. Firstly, please could you tell me a little about yourself?
My name is Peter Jones. I’m the author of several self-help books and two moderately amusing novels. I’m very tall. I became allergic to hops about ten years ago which explains why the cider market is a lot more buoyant these days. Occasionally I pretend to be a multi-millionaire tycoon and appear on a television show about dragons. (That last bit isn’t entirely true).
(You’re a writer – you’re allowed to make things up!)
When did you first realise you were going to be a writer?
I wrote my first book when I was about four or five, and made the decision then and there to grow up, and make books. But I’m not sure it was a realisation. Some days I’m still not sure I’ve ‘realised’ the dream.
Tragic personal circumstances led you to follow your dream of becoming a writer. How cathartic has this process been?
Actually it was sort of the other way around; the cathartic process led to my life as a full time author.
Back in the bad old days I was a fix-it man in the banking community. I loved the people I worked with, loved the money I was earning, enjoyed the problem solving aspect… but as the years rolled by I became increasingly unhappy, and after the death of my wife I decided to do something about it. I used those fix-it man skills to put the smile back on my face.
Then one day somebody suggested I ought to write down some of the happiness ideas I’d been playing with… and suddenly I’d written a book. Then another. And another. Then a novel. And another novel. And now here I am. Author.
If you hadn’t become an author, what would you have done instead as a creative outlet?
For most of my teens I wanted to be an actor. My parents pretty much stamped on that. Not that I’m bitter. Much.
(That explains Will’s profession then in The Truth About This Charming Man!)
How do you go about researching detail and ensuring your books are realistic?
As much as possible I base my books in and around a time and place that I’m familiar with – both my books are set in and around Essex and London at the turn of the 20th century.
Which aspects of your writing do you find easiest and most difficult?
Easiest? Dialogue. Some days that’s all I write.
Hardest? Everything else.
What are your writing routines and where do you do most of your writing?
A perfect day for me starts at 4am in the middle of the summer. No one else – apart from birds and my cat – is up at that hour. I open the door in my office to the balcony, scoff my breakfast whilst I look out at the sea, then go back inside and get writing. If it’s a REALLY good day I can knock out 2,500 words by midday – and by then my creative brain is usually empty. I make some lunch, and, whilst I’m eating it, check my email and post my writing progress on Facebook. In the afternoon I might go for a walk – or do a talk at a local WI. And after dinner I go to bed whenever I feel tired. That might be eight. It could be ten. I love responding to my circadian rhythm rather than being a slave to the clock. On days like that I never have any problem sleeping. I’m out for the count. And if it’s a really REALLY good day, I fall asleep knowing tomorrow’s going to be just the same.
You’re a man writing in a genre dominated by women. How has that affected your writing and publishing experience?
Not just a genre – the whole of the publishing industry is 90% female!!
From a writing perspective it hasn’t made a huge amount of difference. A few things might get tweaked in the final editing process. For instance, one editor suggested that I change the title of my first novel from The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting Girls to The Good Guy’s Guide To Getting The Girl which is a slightly more female-friendly title, and actually more accurate in terms of the story. My agent also asked me to tweak some of the naughtier scenes for the same reason. But pretty much I’m still writing the books that I want to write – books that I myself would buy.
Your novels are both romantic and humorous. How do you get the balance between the two elements as you write?
Gosh. I have absolutely no idea. I suppose it helps that I personally find romance quite funny. Most interactions between men and women are pretty comical when you think about it. And I suppose I find people endlessly fascinating. How people think, how they communicate, the misunderstandings, the lies, the confessions… I basically just write it down.
How different or similar is the writing process for your fiction and non-fiction books?
Non-fiction is easier. I put my old banking head back on, and break the topic I’m writing about into a series of bullet and sub-bullet points. Then I flesh out the bullets in the most entertaining way I can.
Fiction however is a whole different thing. Most of the time I have a rough idea where I’m going, and I might have a bullet pointed outline, but it’s like sailing on choppier, uncharted waters. All manner of unexpected things can occur. Sometimes the plot won’t work. Or it doesn’t make sense for a character to react in a particular way. Or I need to insert more backstory so later scenes make more sense. Or the story’s taking too long to tell, or not long enough. It’s basically like trying to wrestle an octopus into a paper bag.
How did the cover image for your latest book (The Truth About This Charming Man) come about and what were you hoping to convey (without spoiling the plot please!)?
Ha! It came about after much gnashing and many sleepless nights. I still wake up screaming, and it would be difficult for me to summarise the experience without breaking down uncontrollably. But if you really want to know, I wrote a blog post about it here.
If you could chose to be a character from The Truth About This Charming Man, who would you be and why?
Zlata. I want her confidence!
If The Truth About This Charming Man became a film, who would you like to play Will and Rachel?
James MacAvoy was pretty much my first choice when casting the story’s lead character in my mind. Though I know nothing about the man (other than his numerous screen appearances) I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if he’s as obsessed about his craft in real life, as Will is in the book.
When it came to casting the love-interest it really didn’t take me long to come up with a suitable candidate. Oh come on. Can you blame me? If I’ve got to write convincing love-scenes then when I glance up at the pin board I need to be looking directly into the face of a woman I could easily find myself falling in love with! That’s my excuse, I’m sticking to it.
(I notice you’re keeping quiet about who it is though!)
There’s a rumour that your third novel is on its way. What can we expect and when can we expect it?
That’s right. My third vaguely romantic, comedic novel should be out in January 2017 – but that’s all I’m saying for now!
If you had 15 words to persuade a reader that The Truth About This Charming Man should be their next read, what would you say?
Watch this sixty second video here on you tube then visit buy the book today !
(I have watched the video and he’s quite right you know!)
Peter, thank you so much for your time in answering my questions.
About Peter Jones
Peter Jones started professional life as a particularly rubbish graphic designer, followed by a stint as a mediocre petrol pump attendant. After that he got embroiled in the murky world of credit card banking. Fun times.
Now, Peter spends his days – most of them, anyway – writing.
Peter doesn’t own a large departmental store and probably isn’t the same guy you’ve seen on the TV show Dragons’ Den.
You’ll find all Peter’s books for purchase here.