Welcome to another of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with crime novelist Peter Tickler. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Peter. Please tell us something about yourself, and how you came to be a writer.
Peter: I think writing crept up on me when I wasn’t looking and prodded me in the ribs. My first published piece was one on war-gaming, when I was about 18. I was thrilled when the magazine not only published it, but sent me a cheque for £20. I sent two more articles. They published those too, but somehow no further cheque ever arrived in the post!
Morgen: Oh dear. My first published piece was a 60-word story in Woman’s Weekly for which I got £10 (not a bad word rate). I’d sent them a whole page of stories and the one they picked (‘Pizza Payback’ which they renamed ‘Payback’) was the first one so I thought they’d print more but sadly they stopped doing the 60-worders a couple of months later. You generally write crime novels, have you considered other genres?
Peter: Not as yet. I have written a number of monologues based on biblical stories for my local radio station, but I’ve never tried other fiction genres.
Morgen: You have had three novels published to-date? Have you ever been tempted, or indeed written, under a pseudonym?
Peter: No. I guess I’d have to be pretty embarrassed about what I had written to do that.
Morgen: Your books are available as eBooks – how involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Peter: When I signed my contract for Blood on the Cowley Road, electronic publishing rights were not even included. Later they sent me an addendum to sign. As far as I am concerned, eBooks is something that happens at some point after the hardback has been published, with no extra input on my part.
Morgen: It’s very easy to do (I have a guide for indie publishers to do their own) and the great thing is if you wanted to change anything (perhaps update factual events), it’s just a case of re-uploading a Word document. You mentioned hardbacks, are they released first in that format and then in paperback? Do you think the format matters?
Peter: Yes, they are, but interestingly the time gap between the publication of the two has become increasingly shorter.
Morgen: I know a couple of authors whose publishers have stopped doing hardbacks and Amazon sell less of them than any other format, which is a shame because I prefer them to paperbacks (I’m a don’t-like-damaging-paperback-spines reader). Your books are set in your home area of Oxford, how important is location to your writing and have you had reader feedback about the city?
Peter: I love writing about Oxford because I have lived there so long (and also studied as a student). Describing it accurately is important to me, though of course sometimes I do just make buildings and even streets up. But if I can set a scene in an ice-cream shop that really exists (see Blood on the Marsh for that), I will. People seem to really like the authenticity of the locations. One man queried my depiction of Grandpont as being Labour voting and Guardian reading, but it turned out he had lived in Grandpont thirty years previously.
Morgen: Oh wow. That’s the joy (or sometimes the opposite) of reader feedback. I love it – even when I had a lady on Goodreads say she hated one of my stories (Feeding the Father, based on a true story) so much she vowed never to read anything by me again (which is a shame because she’s previously said how much she’d loved another (April’s Fool). You’re a fan of the football club, Oxford United, and you wrote for their programme recently, has the club, or the sport, ever featured in your fiction?