Author Peter Jones has been a significant part of my writing journey. He was the guy I went to for help with formatting and uploading my very first offerings to the global phenomenon known as Amazon, which I did under my pseudonym.
Therefore, I am truly delighted that he has agreed to be interviewed for this blog and to talk about his new book The Truth about this Charming Man.
The novel charts the antics of one William Lewis, an aspiring actor, who has dreamed of treading the boards for about as long as he can remember. He has yet to be involved with the theatre, but he still manages to get to do something of what he loves by pretending to be people that he’s not in the real world.
It’s hilarious, well-written and kept me hooked until the very last page. A very solid 10/10 from me. Here’s what Peter had to say:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Where do I begin?!
I started professional life as a particularly rubbish graphic designer, and followed that with a stint as a mediocre petrol pump attendant. After that I got embroiled in the murky world of credit card banking as a ‘fix-it’ man. Fun times.
For the past 6 years I’ve been a full time author, with three and a half self-help books under my belt (if you’re unhappy, lonely or overweight I might just be your guy), and more recently two hilarious rom-com novels.
I don’t own a large departmental store and I’m not a dragon of any description.
Can you describe a typical day for you?
Most days I’m writing. I like to be at my desk, working, by 7am. By midday I’m usually beat (creatively speaking). Afternoons are reserved for post, admin, social media, that kinda thing.
Once or twice a week I’m out giving a talk at a WI, or a U3A, or a writing group somewhere – entertaining people with tales of this writing life.
You wrote a few non-fiction self-help books before your move into the fiction market? What made you change? Was it a difficult transition?
It’s ironic. I never wanted to write self-help. That kind of happened by accident.
I was in the middle of writing my first novel (in the evenings, after work) when I lost my wife. As you can imagine that event turned my world upside down. Made me question what I wanted in life. Made me question everything.
I decided to take those fix-it man skills and apply them to my own life – to build the happier future that I so wished I’d given my wife. When some of the changes I came up with started to make an obvious difference to my demeanour a colleague suggested I ought to write those ideas down. Six months later I’d accidentally written How To Do Everything And be Happy. I self-published it (because I couldn’t be bothered with the effort of sending it to agents and publishers), and it did well. Really well. Really, really well. So much so that Audible and Harper Collins came knocking, as did an agent.
However, after three and a half non-fiction books I was keen to get back to the still unfinished novel. Naively I thought my non-fiction readers would pick up my novel out of curiosity, but I soon realised I was effectively starting again from scratch. My then agent was only interested in my non-fiction, as were HC and audible. It took me a while to find a new agent, and land a new book deal.
In your latest novel –The Truth About This Charming Man –Will comes across as a sound character with a good dollop of common sense, despite his unluckiness in love. How much is he like you?
I like Will a lot, and yes, I suppose we do have a lot in common, although I don’t really see him as ‘unlucky in love’. He’s quite upfront about the fact that theatre is his first love – and I totally get that. If you told me I could be happily married to Kylie Minogue for the rest of my life, OR have a 50/50 chance of three book deal with penguin… I’d take the latter every time. Is that mad? I think it might be.
Will plays a number of different ‘parts’ in the book, to great comedic effect at times. To what extent do you think this mirrors the parts we all play in our own lives? (i.e. husband/wife, child/parent, boss/employee)
Blimey. That’s a deep question. Let me side step it.
Initially, The Truth About This Charming Man was never intended to be a novel. It was a five part short-story about an actor, who acts in the ‘real world’ (rather than ‘on stage’), and what happens when he’s asked to play two characters at the same meeting. But the more I wrote, the more intrigued I became by the duality of the other characters, and how – as you say – people often play different roles in their own lives. Roles that might, sometimes, require a little bending of the truth.
When my (new) agent suggested I turn the short story into a novel, I looked to that duality for my inspiration. The book then wrote itself.
Could you tell us your favorite book from 2015?
I read a lot of non-fiction in 2015. My favourite was Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Stop aspiring and get writing.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m juggling a couple of projects at the moment. There’s some exciting talk about a Truth About This Charming Man film or TV series (can’t say more than that at this stage), but regardless of whether that happens or not, a third novel should be out in the not too distant future.
Where can we find you?