21 May 2012

Q&A with Peter Cooper

Out this month is is the exciting second book in Peter Cooper's Tales of the Blue Jade fantasy series. Peter blogs regularly here but today we have him right here on the ol' bus to tell us about his writing process. And if you'd like to test your knowledge on the series so far, head on over here and take a quiz!

How long did it take you to write The Ghost of Ping-Ling?

All up close to eight years, although the story evolved so much I probably wrote closer to four different novels in that time. 

Do you procrastinate?

It depends a little on whether I'm writing or editing. When I'm editing I can occasionally drift off to check email or the news or stare aimlessly into space. I tend to be more focussed when I'm writing because I'm caught up in the creative process.

Are you an early-morning or late-at-night writer?

If I could choose my optimal writing time it would be from around 8 am to early afternoon. That seems to be when my head is clearest and I'm most able to focus. However, because I work full time my writing tends to happen between about 8 pm and 10 pm. I'm not as productive as I would be earlier in the day but I usually manage to get a good amount done.

Where did you get the idea for The Ghost of Ping-Ling?

From many places over a long period of time. The story started life as a satirical take on Lord of the Rings (believe it or not) and then as time went by it became less satirical and less like Lord of the Rings, until eventually it took on a life of its own. The idea of setting it in an Asian-style world came later in the form of an 'aha' moment and was mostly inspired by my love of the television series Monkey, as well as Journey to the West which the TV series was based on.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

When I was about 12. It was a science-fiction saga called 'Children of the Empire', about a future human empire populated entirely by children. They would listen to loud music in their spaceships and all kinds of cool things like that. It probably won't be in print any time soon.

What does your family think of your writing?

My twin five-year-old sons are my biggest fans. Whenever we go into a bookshop they find my book and yell out that it's 'Daddy's book!' then busily look for their names in the front. They were quite put out when book 2 had Mummy's name in the front instead of theirs.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have a few books on the go, including Emily Rodda's Wizard of Rondo and a book of short stories by Sean Williams. I just started reading Artemis Fowl which is incredible. I'm also reading my sons the Hobbit, which we're all enjoying immensely.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a teenager all I wanted to do was join the Navy, but they knocked me back on medical grounds. Then I wanted to be an archaeologist and an explorer, and I actually went to uni to study archaeology though I quickly found out it wasn't as exciting as Indiana Jones made it look. Eventually I settled on engineering, although it took me until my late 20s to reach that point.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Spending time with my family rates highest. I also like bike riding and recently I've started doing Judo, which I really enjoy although it's a constant reminder that I'm no longer 20 years old.

When was the last time you went on a bus?

A few weeks ago, when I pulled a hamstring muscle at Judo and couldn't ride my bike to work. It was a nice ride but alas not my preferred mode of transport.

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