5 minutes with … Peter d’Plesse

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Peter d’Plesse, author of ‘Fire Eye’.

Hi Peter, thank you for agreeing to this interview. 5 minutes with … is a short interview with our authors so their audience can get to know them a little better and for aspiring writers to learn more about the writing process.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember. Way back in the school days I produced stories that won some small prizes in primary and high school. I started writing for magazines out of an interest to share my learning experiences from the activities I enjoyed. Each article I write has a simple message about survival or a lesson learned through experience. The message is always presented in a low key manner – the reader can take something from it or just read for pleasure.

Do you write full-time or part-time? How often?

Writing is a part-time activity undertaken when time allows or there is motivation to put something into words. If I’m working on a project, time is devoted every day to the task. Late afternoon and early evening work well with me as my mind has had time during the day to work quietly in the background. Music and my slow cooker producing tempting aromas also help.

What is the easiest thing about writing?

Is writing ever easy? Perhaps doing the research on a topic is the easiest part. The research stage can be very useful in delaying an attempt to put the learning into words that a reader can enjoy. Sooner or later the attempt must be made and it is never easy.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

That’s easy! The hardest part of writing is sharing the words that have been put down on paper. Much energy and sweat goes into those words. They have special meaning to the writer. Sharing them and opening oneself up to feedback demands courage. However, it must be done to make the writing even better. Handing one’s work over to an editor is a scary but essential part of the writing process. What is obvious to the writer may be completely impenetrable to the writer.

What is your favourite book and why?

Many books could be listed as favourites. Tacitus and the ‘Annals of Imperial Rome’ recount with depth and insight the history of the Roman Empire during the first century A.D. The Iliad by Homer may be one of the first thrillers written. I read them in primary school and they opened another world. However, they’re not a common read so I might just list some authors I really enjoy – Stephen Hunter, Wilbur Smith, Tom Clancy and Richard Hermann. Why do these writers stand out? They write from experience or sound research. What happens in their books is what happens in real life and they know their subject matter. This is essential to produce a good read.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Put pen to paper and don’t give up! Producing something is a long haul but well worth the effort.

Why did you choose to self-publish?

There were a number of reasons I chose to self-publish. I had a tight timeline to achieve my goal of getting ‘Fire Eye’ out. Given that the book was about a lost serviceman, I was aiming to have it out for Anzac Day 2015. I also wanted to keep control over the book. Another reason lay in the feedback received from a literary agent. ‘Fire Eye’ was a good story they said but Alexander Dulaine, the female character, was rather unbelievable. The character of Alex is inspired by a real person and I had toned her down! ‘Alex’ still laughs about that feedback.

How long did it take you to write ‘Fire Eye’?

Fire Eye’ took three years to write before moving into the editing stages. There were stops and starts because of other demands and the crises of confidence that can affect all writers. It was important to have the action fit together in a realistic manner and that took time to work through.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is so special?

‘Alex’ is inspired by a real person. She has a very high IQ. She can see patterns in life and behaviour that others cannot see. A high IQ can also be a curse and isolate someone from the general population. Alex has gone through life misjudged by others who have no idea how to deal with her when all she needs is acceptance. She learns fast, very fast indeed as ‘Jed’ finds out at the shooting range. She has a natural ability with horses that puts many owners to shame.  Alex believes in values such as honour, trust and loyalty. She will make a stand on those principles. While she fears no physical challenge emotional pain can present a major threat. In the modern world of self-interest, she may be a misfit but if you want a loyal friend by your side in a crisis, she is the one.

What genre is your book?

Fire Eye’ is a novel of action and adventure. The appropriate genre in book classification is that of a thriller.

What draws you to this genre?

This genre makes for an interesting read, taking one out of the normal, everyday existence with the opportunity to see the world through a different lens. The genre allows a writer to explore human interactions, failings and strengths. It also allows complex issues like right and wrong, truth and justice to be explored in a variety of ways. The reader can just enjoy the book or take the opportunity to think a bit deeper about these issues.

Tell us about the cover and how it came about?

The cover caused some anxiety. I had a clear idea in mind – an eye that had inside intense flames that communicated danger, fear and drama. The journey of Alex and Jed to find her grandfather’s aircraft became a nightmare. The cover had to reflect that nightmare. It certainly catches the eye. I wanted avoid any images such as aircraft, women, horses or guns that may restrict the appeal to readers.

Will there be a sequel?

Fire Eye’ was written in response to a challenge to tell a story in an imaginative way. There is certainly plenty of room to write a sequel. There are many stories in the history of Northern Australia to use a basis, particularly from the year 1942. The characters of Jed and Alex have an urge to seek adventure, strong personalities and similar issues about trust that offer plenty of scope. I have actually started a sequel based on events in Broome on March 3 1942. Whether I finish it is another matter.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Book Website: http://shortstoppress.com/fiction/fire-eye
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dplesse
Twitter: https://twitter.com/dplesse

Thank you for your time, Peter, and good luck with ‘Fire Eye’.