Today, I’m delighted to present to you another awesome member of the writers’ group, eNovel Authors at Work. Pete Barber and I connected quite recently and he soon made quite an impression on me being a man of many talents; a Liverpoolean living in North Carolina, he’s not only a writer of exhilarating plots, but also a keen farmer who raises his own chickens and–wait for it–llamas! Join me as to find out more about him and his work!
Lab assistant and avid climber Amber Wilson is no stranger to risk. But she feels invisible around her handsome boss, Mark, until she accidentally doses him with an irresistible aphrodisiac that leaves him with a suicidal hangover. Abruptly fired, Amber and Mark partner up to research the source of the drug—a rare New Zealand mushroom—in hopes of refining it for safe use.
On their way to New Zealand to collect fungi samples, Amber is blindsided by a deep and intense romantic connection with Mark. Their new business plan is endangered by ruthless Maori mobsters who control a mushroom scheme they’re killing to protect. As the body count rises, Amber struggles to salvage her and Mark’s dreams, but when she risks her heart and acts alone, both of them could end up paying the ultimate price.
**** 2013 Indie Book Awards Finalist ****
Terrorists attack a London Underground train, slaughtering two-hundred innocents in seconds with a nanoweapon small enough to hide in a hint of perfume.
First responder, Detective Chief Inspector Quinnborne, defies orders and hunts for the weapon’s unhinged genius creator. The authorities label Quinnborne a traitor, but when the nanotechnology spirals out of control, his grit and bloody-minded determination become humankind’s last thin hope of survival faced with a weapon of mass destruction that can be deployed at will and against which there is no defense.
Hello Pete and welcome to my blog!
Thank you Effrosyni, for inviting me to contribute to your excellent blog. I’m very pleased to be here.
What has inspired you to write Love Poison?
I wish I could summon up an earth-shattering reason or theme that inspired me to write any of my stories, but sadly I don’t operate at such an elevated level. Love Poison, like all of my tales started with an incident. In this case–a woman, Amber, sitting in a bathroom stall hiding from the crowd at her office Christmas party and trying to overcome an anxiety attack. Why that? Who knows? She just popped into my head, so I wrote her down. Then, of course, I had to explain why she was anxious, and more importantly, I had to get poor Amber out of the bathroom. During her escape, she stumbled across a mushroom that made men instantly fall in love, and that’s how it all started. Nothing deeper, I’m afraid. But I did have a lot of fun with the concept.
What other writing have you done? Anything else published?
I’ve written three other novels. Two of them are permanently FIT (filed in trash). When I first started writing fiction about seven years ago, I couldn’t imagine tossing 90K words away—twice. And it wasn’t easy. But I realize now that they weren’t wasted words. They just weren’t good enough, and I had to get them out of the way so the good stuff could flow.
My third novel, NanoStrike–available on Amazon—has been well received. Just last week, it garnered its one-hundredth five-star review. I’m proud of that. Reviews are the fuel that keeps you going as a writer. I read every word of every review, positive or negative, and listen to how people perceive my work. It’s important input I can use to improve.
I’ve heard through the grapevine that Nanostrike is that something else and I can’t wait to read it myself. Congrats for the raving reviews! Any hobbies or interests that you enjoy in your spare time?
For the past ten years, I’ve been fortunate to live on a small farm in the foothills of Western NC. I keep an organic garden and love to grow my own food. There’s nothing quite like planting rows of potatoes, tomatoes, greens, kale, peppers, cucumbers, and squash in freshly tilled soil in early spring.
My wife and I tended a small herd of llamas for eight years. They ate grass and hay and gave me perfectly balanced fertilizer that made my garden flourish. We also kept a dozen or so chickens that ranged the pastures, ate the bugs, and gave us fresh eggs. The harmonious nature of working the land using nature’s own cycles keeps me grounded and sooths my soul. I don’t use pesticides and I pull weeds by hand—not the most efficient use of the land, but it gives me satisfaction.
It all sounds absolutely wonderful and quite impressive, I must say. What are you working on at the moment? Tell us a little about your current project(s).
My next novel is already at second draft stage and scheduled to go to an editor in November. It starts in Southern Iraq two weeks before Christmas, 2009. A stray Iraqi rocket explodes a few feet from three US Army Sergeants. When the soldiers return home, their wives are duty-bound to become caregivers as their husbands wrestle with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although this story started in my normal manner—with the rocket attack—because I’ve never been in the military, I had to hit the books and research almost from the get-go. In the process, I came across a number of web and Facebook sites focused on the complex struggles facing spouses of injured vets. These, mostly women, face extraordinary challenges with as much bravery as their warriors showed on the battle field. In the writing, the story morphed from a thriller into a drama.
Incidentally, I am actively seeking beta-readers for the draft. I need people with first-hand experience in the military and/or as caregivers for soldiers suffering from PTSD. Although this is a work of fiction, I definitely do not want to misrepresent the facts upon which it’s based.
I’m sure it’ll make for very interesting reading. I hope you’ll find suitable beta readers for that, although I’m sure the deep research has already done wonders for the manuscript. Which are your favorite authors, and what are you reading now?
I’m a sorry example of an author, because I don’t remember the names of the writers I’ve read. For the last couple years I’ve been reading and reviewing for Books & Pals book blog. I read forty or fifty books a year, mostly indie.
In my youth, I read a lot of sci-fi although I don’t find it as attractive nowadays. I do enjoy women’s fiction. I like the raw emotion that comes through the pages. Often those stories take on really tough subjects. Also, I know from writing Love Poison, that a well-written romance is a tough act to pull off, so I’m always happy when I find one.
I honestly believe that I learn from every book I read, although nowadays I’m tougher to please–I just can’t turn off that internal editor in my head.
Are there any sites or writing tools that you find useful and wish to recommend?
There are two parts, equally important I think, to a good novel. The story itself—an interesting premise and compelling plot populated by engaging characters you can root for—and mechanics. There are exceptions, of course; some books with poor mechanics are successful, but in the main even a reader with no understanding of POV or attribution, or showing vs telling techniques will glaze over if the mechanics aren’t in place.
Stories come from within, but writing mechanics have to be learned. I learned most of mine from the online critique group, Scribophile. There are plenty of other similar sites, but here’s the thing–it forced me to put my work in the public domain even though I was scared to death at first. Heck it is scary. Especially when you see other work posted by people who can really write, and your only constructive comment is: “Wow! This was great, why aren’t you published?”
Obviously, they’re going to take one look at your piece of amateur yuck, and barf, or laugh until their sides split. But the critiques I received taught me a lot. Those accomplished writers were generous with their time. They gave me pointers and links to places where I could learn how to do what they did. Not everyone was nice, and the negative comments, most valid, some not, hardened me to accept those cutting remarks that will continue to go with the territory, because we can’t please everyone.
Choose a male and a female character from your book and tell us which actor/actress you’d wish to play them in a film adaptation.
Hmm, well, Amber is thirty-five. When we first meet her she is uncertain of herself and where her life is going. So the actress would need to show a vulnerable side. As the story progresses, Amber has to change and grow. Additionally, she is quite an athlete. Toward the end of the novel only great physical strength and endurance allows her to reach her happy-ever-after. Although she’s a little older than Amber, I’d have to go with Uma Thurman.
Mark, her love interest is a no-brainer—Hugh Jackman. He’d manage the Kiwi accent without any problem, and my wife wants to meet him in the worst possible way!
Excellent choices, if I may say so! If you could have one superpower what would it be?
I’m about 60K words into what I hope will be a trilogy that features twins who have the power of healing. Through their touch, they can cure the otherwise incurable. I think that would be a terrific superhuman ability to possess. Although it is causing my young characters (and this writer) some very interesting challenges. For example how to choose who gets healed. Also, the healing happens through gene modification and the recipient changes in other ways as well—what will the consequences of that be? These and many other questions I hope to answer in 2015.
Wow – hurry writing that one Pete! It sounds absolutely fantastic! Well, it’s been a real pleasure having you here today. I wish you success with your writing and best of luck with your Love Poison Tour!
Thank you Effrosyni; all the best to you too!
Born into a blue-collar family in Liverpool, England, I immigrated to the US in the early 90s and settled in North Carolina. After surviving near death experiences at ages six and eighteen, I led a haphazard life, putting bread on the table as a plumber, computer programmer, salesperson, marketing executive, hotel operator, real-estate developer, and llama breeder. I love chickens and dogs, and write fast-paced fiction that makes people think.
eNovelAuthors page: http://bit.ly/XxCXQa
Author page on RAP: http://redadeptpublishing.com/pete-barber/