Peter Leonard, author of Trust Me, lives in Birmingham, Michigan. His first novel, Quiver, received wide-spread critical acclaim. For more information please visit.
Tell us a bit about your current project.
A holocaust survivor’s daughter is killed in an automobile accident by a drunk German diplomat, who avoids prosecution by diplomatic immunity. Harry Levin, the main character goes to Munich to get revenge and uncovers a plan to bring back the good old days of the Third Reich. The story is set in 1971.
We are all about journeys…unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or lowlights from your path to publication.
Before selling my first novel, QUIVER, I wrote a book called INVASION that took a year and a half to write. I sent it to my father, Elmore Leonard’s former editor for her critique/review/assessment. She called me a week later and said, “Peter, you’re a good writer. You have a nice facile style. But I have one question: Who’s your main character?” So I scrapped INVASION and started QUIVER.
Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work, or struggle in a particular area such as writers block or angst driven head-banging against walls? Please share some helpful overcoming hints that you’ve discovered.
What I’ve learned is, you have to work through your problems. If a scene isn’t hitting on all cylinders, maybe it’s been written from the wrong point of view. So I rewrite the scene through another character’s eyes, often with successful results.
What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow it down
further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
When you sell your first novel it’s very exciting. You think you’re on your way. But the fact is there’s tremendous competition in the book business. So you have to be savvy and proactive in promoting your book. With the demise of newspapers, I think it’s essential to be aligned with a proven internet marketing company.
What is your favorite source for finding story ideas?
I got the idea for TRUST ME from an article in the Detroit FREE PRESS. Crooks dressed as cops robbed a drug dealer’s house in suburban Detroit. Ideas can come from anywhere. I know a guy who had an affair with a Secret Service Agent’s wife. I used it as a sub-plot in my new novel called AS THE ROMANS DO.
With the clarity of experience what advice would you offer up to the wet-behind-the-ears you if beginning this writing journey today?
If you want to write, write. Don’t make excuses. Sit down and do it.
What event/person has most changed you as a writer? How?
My father has influenced me as a writer. He’s a hard worker, and I think seeing that definitely had an impact on me.
What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why? (Doesn’t have to be one of your books or even published.)
I’m proud of my two published novels, prouder still of my new one called AS THE ROMANS DO.
Share a dream or something you’d love to accomplish through your writing career.
I’d like to see my books turned into movies.
What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course )?
A good review written by a reviewer who understands what I am doing.
What is one of the more unique or strange life experiences that has really given you an extra oomph in your writing?
I was a student in Rome when I was twenty. I stole a taxi and spent a week in a maximum security Italian prison. I’ve been waiting years to use it, and It’s now the opening scene of my third novel.
Describe your special or favorite writing spot.
I write in my bedroom. I sit in a chair with my feet on an ottoman and write longhand on a lined yellow legal pad. I’ll write a few pages and then transcribe it to my Apple MacBook Pro.
What aspect of writing was the most difficult for you to grasp/conquer? How did you overcome it?
Learning how to tell a story in three acts. It requires a lot of trial and error.
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
I take out a fresh lined yellow legal pad and a pick up a Pilot Precise V7 pen, sit in a comfortable chair and start writing.
Writing rituals. Do you have to sit somewhere specific, complete a certain number of words, leave something undone to trigger creativity for the next session? Some other quirk you’d like to share?
I try to write four pages every day. Some days, if things are going well, I’ll write six, and some days if I don’t seem to have it, I’ll only write three.
What is the most difficult part of pulling together a book? Ex. Do you have saggy middles, soggy characters, soupy plots during your first drafts…if so, how do you shape it up?
Act three is the most difficult part of writing a book. You have to tie up all the plot lines, create suspense and keep your reader guessing.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.
I got an e-mail from a fourteen year old boy who said he never liked to read until he read my novel, QUIVER, and he couldn’t wait for the next one.
Have you discovered any successful marketing/promo ideas that you’d share with us?
No, but if you hear of any, please let me know.