[Interview] Peter Tomlinson

Peter Tomlinson is author of The Petronicus Legacy series of books.

So far, the series is made up of three novels: The Stones of Petronicus (Bewrite Books, 2004); The Time of Kadrik (Bewrite Books, 2006) and The Voyages of Delticos (Bewrite Books, 2007).

He has also published four poetry volumes: Whispers in the Dust (Hengist Enterprises, 1999); Reflections in the Rock (Hengist Enterprises, 2000); Echoes in the Stones (Hengist Enterprises, 2001) and Tunnels of the Mind (Bluechrome, 2004).

His two short stories collections, To Tell the Tale (2000) and The Short Straw Society (2002) where both published by Hengist Enterprises.

In a recent interview, Peter Tomlinson spoke about his writing.

How would you describe your writing?

For about ten years I concentrated on writing poetry and have had nearly 300 poems published by about 80 small press magazines in the U.K. and abroad.

I continue submitting poetry to numerous magazines in the U.K. and abroad. I prefer poetry that deals with the joys and tribulations of modern society. I also write poems about nature and landscape.

My first major poetry collection, published by Bluechrome, was entitled Tunnels of the Mind. Three other poetry collections: Whispers in the Dust, Reflections in the Rock and Echoes in the Stones are all published by Hengist Enterprises.

Two collections of short stories: To Tell the Tale and The Short Straw Society are also published by Hengist Enterprises.

I am now concentrating on writing novels, having recently completed a series of three novels titled The Petronicus Legacy published by Bewrite Books.

Who is your target audience?

I did not have a target audience for The Petronicus Legacy series. The characters in the books represent all age groups from the very young to the very old. I hope my audience are those readers who are not tied to a particular genre but are prepared to allow an author to take them into unknown places.

I am not writing in a specific genre that booksellers can recognise. The three novels in The Petronicus Legacy series cannot be neatly slotted into a genre type in the way that booksellers would like. If pressed I would describe the genre as Fictitious History rather than Historical Fiction but they are definitely not Historical Fantasy.

The civilisations described are credible and realistic but they did not exist and cannot be given a historical description or designation. The places the characters lived in could be anywhere in the world: the Americas, Europe, the Middle and Far East -- anywhere on the planet. I wrote the novels without a genre straitjacket in order to allow my imagination to range freely over human experience, locations, beliefs etc. without being tied down.

The first novel, The Stones of Petronicus, was published by Bewrite Books in 2004. The novel follows the trials and tribulations of Petronicus, an itinerant healer and man of wisdom who takes an abandoned baby to heart and together they begin a quest for knowledge, groping through a maze of magic and madness to find answers in the cruel and mysterious ancient world. Although it is the first novel in a series, it is also a self-contained story.

The second novel in the series, The Time of Kadrik, was also published by Bewrite Books. It is a self-contained saga set ten lifetimes on and begins in an entirely different location. The novel ends with a coming together of the characters, ideas and locations in both novels.

The third self-contained novel in the series is titled The Voyages of Delticos. In this story all the ideas come together in an enlightening and thoroughly satisfying manner. Full details of the plots and characters in the series are available on Bewrite Books' Petronicus Legacy page. The site also contains extensive reviews from readers.

How have your personal experiences influenced your writing?

My own experiences of life must surely have added to the direction of my writing. I was born in Merseyside, U.K. the year World War II started. We were evacuated to a remote hill farm in North Wales to escape the blitz. We returned to much wartime dereliction and lived in a prefabricated house on a bomb site. We were separated from my father who served in the Royal Navy throughout the war. I left school at 15 and worked for an American Telegraph Company as a messenger boy. I was trained as a telegraphist and then conscripted aged 18 into the British Army and served overseas in Cyprus. After demobilization I took a B. Phil. degree and followed an academic life. On early retirement I worked for a while as an overseas cultural guide. I also regard a propensity for just mooning around and daydreaming as an important influence.

I suppose one writer who influenced me was William Golding. I am influenced by writers of good stories; stories that are credible, convincing and full of originality and invention. They must be smoothly written and have a beginning, a middle and an end. But perhaps the biggest influences are the many different characters and personalities I have met in real life.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face?

By far the biggest challenge is persuading the big booksellers to stock my titles. I try to overcome this by visiting small independent bookshops, trying to get book signings and competing with the big names the quality of whose books does not always reflect their celebrity. All that is on the bookshelves is not good and all that is good is not on the bookshelves.

Do you write every day?

Writing is a discipline but that doesn’t mean I force myself to write even when I don’t feel like it.

I have found out what times of the day or what parts of my daily routine are most conducive to work and I stick to them. I find that first thing in the morning for about one hour and late afternoon for another hour are my best times for moving the stories on.

My session usually starts by revising the work from the previous day and then constructing the follow-on events in the plot.

You are currently working on another book? What sets this book apart from others?

My latest book is different from The Petronicus Legacy series because it is written in the third person and is set in modern times. It is provisionally titled A Message From Siakhara and is not quite finished. It is a modern suspense thriller in which the heroes are two very unlikely ex-squaddies in their late fifties. The novel will come in at about 93,000 words and has taken me six months to write.

Which aspects of the work you put into the book did you find most difficult?

I find that the most difficult aspect of the writing is dialogue. It is so easy to give each character the same linguistic idiosyncrasies and this can produce a sameness which is irritating to the reader. In my latest book the problem does not arise because the principal characters are from diverse backgrounds.

Related article:

Peter Tomlinson [Featured Author], Conversations with Writers, June 11, 2010


SoRoL said…
I would just like to say that I have so far read the first two of the Petronicus Legacy books and they are indeed captivating, intriguing and enthralling! The world Peter creates has such a strong feel of authenticity that it seems very familiar while at the same time strange and exotic!
Really hard to put into words - Lewis Carroll would understand!
I am greatly anticipating my next leap into the wonderland that is -Petronicus ! Best, Steve L
Anonymous said…
Super interview. I've read all three books now, having just finished the latest in the trilogy, and I wholeheartedly recommend them. Perfect to curl up on the couch with on a dreary winter's day/evening and loose yourself in the magical world created by Peter Tomlinson.
Anonymous said…
I too strongly recommend Peter's books. I see the latest one, The Voyages of Delticos, is out now so I'm ordering that one too.

Geoff Nelder
Anonymous said…

You were my form teacher and history teacher at turves green boys school.

brilliant teacher and very understanding I've never forgotten those years.

Thank you Simon Taylor.

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