Featured Interview With Peter J Story
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where I had planned to attend college with a vague notion of majoring in something to do with literature. But my goals changed, and I decided instead to spend seven years as a missionary (mostly in Mexico City). The time paid off, though, and taught me a great deal about human nature and the art of telling a subtle, character-driven story.
Now I’m living back in San Antonio, Texas with my wife and our two pugs, writing code by day and fiction by night.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I’m told I was always a reader, and I really can’t remember a time when I wasn’t reading. Not that it was a passion when I was tiny, but it was always a part of me. And I think that contributed to my eventual love for books.
Around the age of six or so, I remember coming to a realization. I noticed that I was shyer than the other kids, so I fell back to what I knew: reading. I also found a new hobby in studying people and found both pastimes equally fascinating.
Among my favorite characters at that age were Encyclopedia Brown, Sebastian the Super Sleuth, and Sherlock Holmes. When in search of new mystery stories, I read Murder on the Orient Express and found the tale intriguing. Unfortunately, I felt that the name “Hercule Poirot” was unseemly, and abandoned any further inquiries in the character’s direction.
Then one day, at the age of ten or so, my uncle introduced me to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and my world changed forever. I was carried away by the story and tried my hand at mimicking the epic. Unfortunately, due to an existing love for Star Trek: The Next Generation, this took an unholy turn toward a hybrid of the two worlds. But I enjoyed it, nonetheless, and isn’t that what matters most? Of course it is.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
As I grew up, I learned to enjoy a variety of new writers and their characters (even those with unseemly names). I hesitate to pick a favorite author, as I’ve often found it to be highly subjective and fleeting. But among the authors I’ve enjoyed most are George Orwell, Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Stephen King, Dave Barry, and C.S. Lewis. And they’ve all had a tremendous impact on my writing style.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
Things Grak Hates has been a work in progress for the last year. The concept is based on my observations of human nature. We humans have a tendency to play nice with each other, but we also have a real knack for being self-absorbed. And the thing about being self-absorbed is that my smallest desires become far more important than your needs at such times. We all do this at least a little, but my protagonist, Grak, does it with flare. Of course, he has a bit of tragedy in his past, but I leave the question open as to whether his narcissism existed before the tragedy or was caused by it.
Things Grak Hates is categorized as literary fiction / satire / dark comedy, but it’s so much more than that. It has strong political elements, portrays how ideas are so easily disseminated, shows how silly our best moments can often look in hindsight, and is laced throughout with a commentary on religion. And, of course, every element is portrayed through the eyes of a very selfish Grak.
And here’s a bit of a confession. In order to capture the selfishness of human nature, I had to write myself into Grak. Of course, I took his character off the deep end, far beyond who I am or have been. But I think his path isn’t so far-fetched when we allow ourselves to run wild and unchecked. In some form or another, it’s a potential for us all. I find that sobering and freeing at the same time.
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