Site created 06 August, 2009.
Welcome to a Q & A session with Pete Anderson, the author of "One if by Air, Two if by Sea", "The High Road Less Traveled" and just completed and now in post-editing, "The Last Dance Can Be Murder". We got Pete to take a few moments from his busy schedule, as a parent, computer professional and breakout new writer, to sit and answer some questions for us.
Q: Where did the idea for “One if by Air.....” come from?
A: I've been working on this project for about ten years now, if this were a child, it wouldn't have taken even an elephant this long to give birth, ( laughs ) but it was worth it in the end. I don't write books sequentially, I wrote the middle first, the part where Nick visits the “Beauties of the Deep” display and then breaks into the Coral Haven resort to snoop around. Then I wrote the beginning and then wrapped up the end. I'm not going to say anything more because some of the audience may not have read the whole book yet.
( chuckles ) Get busy, will ya?
Q: Where did the idea for Nick come from, is he based on anybody real?
A: ( chuckles ) Yea, I guess kinda. In some ways, he's my cooler, more world wise alter ego. In school, I was one year younger than everyone else because I started school at five. In grade school that may not be so much of a big deal but when you hit junior high and high school, and the testosterone starts turning boys into men, a year can be a huge difference, in height and muscle. And my relatives in previous generations were somewhat on the smaller side for typical adult males anyway, so combine the two and …..... got the picture? So I was kinda an odd duck even back then and I got picked on some, and was definitely in the 'geeks' group when you had the usual social stratus breakdown in high school.
I didn't have a 'real' girlfriend until after graduation and I'm still not smooth with the ladies. Its just not my makeup.
My son has Asperger's, which is a form of Autism that can cause major intellectual 'jumps' but causes ADHD symptoms and sometimes severe issues in socialization and motor/coordination skills. When he was diagnosed, my wife had me read everything she could find and I was amazed that most of the traits on the list described me in certain degrees as well. Hans Asperger identified many traits in 1944 that led him to believe that it is commonly genetically inherited. He is quite smart, I know that every parent thinks that their little Johnny is 'exceptional', but man, I gotta tell ya, he's only eight and the stuff he comes up with is just amazing. So, be that as it may …......I was in my mid-thirties when I started “One if by Air” and I was married then and things were pretty good. Thats reflected, I think, in how much softer, gentler and somewhat more naïve “One if by Air” is. Now “The High Road …..” thats a different story.
Q: How so? …......
A: “The High Road Less Traveled” is a much darker, more Batman-esque book, especially the second half. Batman was always my favorite superhero because he is dark and somewhat twisted, not a boy-scout like Superman. He has real-world issues and problems that he wrestles with and that to me, makes him a more interesting, much more human character. He's not a 'perfect' goody-two-shoes. Life has pain, misfortune and loss, and its not always anyone's fault. It just is. I started “High Road” after finishing “One if by Air” and letting it sit for many years after getting married and starting a family. The last three-eights or so of “High Road” was just written in the last year, when my children were a little older and my marriage was ending.
You will see some of my personal angst reflected in what is happening with the characters, and I think that either consciously or unconsciously, maybe some of both, ( pauses ), this was my way of processing a very painful time that came quite suddenly and without mercy or let-up.
“High Road” is life, there is pain, loss, grief and death, but there is also romance, love, redemption, hope and the yearning to understand our purpose here and if there is a God, how does He relate to us? The third book will continue this well, I think, I don't have a working title yet but Nick's character is going to be further defined by some very very painful circumstances and decisions that he and the ones that he loves most are going to have to face. I myself am a believer, my faith has kept me and helped me ride over some days and weeks that I don't know how I would have coped with otherwise, but Nick isn't sure and he wrestles with his concept and connection to God at the end of the first book and that carries through into the other two as well.
I am the type of person that has no problem telling someone else about Jesus if they are interested, but I don't ram it down on anyone, everyone has to make their peace with who or what or how they believe created the universe and gave them life and purpose. These books are mainstream fiction, I'm not proselytizing here, as such, but my faith is so much a core part of who I am that it has to come out in some aspects, and I definitely feel that it makes the story better even if you happen to be an atheist.
I feel it makes the characters more believable because they are unsure, curious and conflicted about their faith as well, just like many people are. I'm not going to give too much away, really at this point I can't because it hasn't all been written yet, but where I see this going I think fans of Nicholas Pantera will approve and feel that they got their time and money's worth out of both of the sequels.
Q: Are any of the characters in your books based on anyone real, that you may know or just have knowledge of?
A: Funny you ask that. Actually, the Kathryn Lynn Kramer character in books two and three is somewhat based on Katie Kramer, a very nice young lady I had the experience of working with some years back. The Kathryn character is portrayed as being taller, but her physical attibutes other than that are about the same. Katie was an extremely attractive, very intelligent and well mannered young woman and it was a great pleasure to work with her. We collaborated on several projects including some web site development for the company and she had a very insightful mind that made brainstorming technical issues enjoyable. She was good at what many people call today "thinking outside the box." Whereever she is today, I wish her well.
Q: You have a lot of military jargon in your books. Are you a veteran?
A: Actually, no. I considered a naval aviation career right after high school. I wanted to fly F14's but I ended up going to college for computers instead and eventually ended up in the HVAC and plumbing engineering industries, for a stretch, after several other career choices in between. However, I never lost my interest in all things military and so I studied a lot about hardware, tactics and military history. Stormin Norman Schwarzkopf is a big hero of mine, he's from Trenton NJ, near where I grew up, and Charles Horner and Buster Glosson as well, from the first Gulf War.
In the dedications for the second and third books, I mention the US Armed Forces and my great respect for them. Despite what you may think about our national foreign policy and where or when our military might should be exercised, to me sports figures and rock stars are not heroes. They can be roll models in some cases, but the heroes are our military, our police and our fire/EMTs. They suffer long hours often with low pay, are often away from family and loved ones for extended periods of time, and are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for people that not only have they never met, but often aren't even fellow countrymen. To me that is the definition of 'hero'.
Q: What about language and sex, especially the military characters? Doesn't “swears like a sailor” have a basis in reality? And aren't readers looking for some “steamy” scenes?
A: Well, yes, somewhat. A lot of military movies portray soldiers and servicemen as fouled mouthed ruffians who often aren't all that bright. In some cases that's true, but that's just as bad as stereotyping Blacks, Hispanics or Asians. To me, books or movies that use tons of language and sex are just a cover for 'hack' writers that have little or no talent. I may use 'danggit' or 'crap', not drop any F-Bombs or have any little hotties getting naked; but if you can actually write, you can keep your audience hooked without all that. I was a Mikey Spillane 'Mike Hammer' fan growing up and Hammer always had very attractive women around him, some of whom unfortunately had a tendency of turning up deceased.
I describe the women in the books so that you have a feeling of their looks and character but just don't feel the need to have to get raunchy about bodily details, steamy bedroom encounters, or any such as some others tend to go for. The preliminary reviews that are coming in so far are very positive and I'm being told that the story flows well, engages the reader with believable characters and situations and keeps a good pace without going too fast or getting bogged down. That's how you get a rep for being a good storyteller. You aren't going to see any cover art for my books with a shirtless, heavily muscled young man holding a half clothed, exceptionally well developed female. That's just not my target audience, sorry for those who are looking for that, there are plenty of other authors, magazines and websites that cater to that clientle.
Q: Speaking of clothed, who did the art for the cover of One if by Air, and how was it done? Its kind of dark and somewhat urban gritty but very detailed.
A: The cover art is a 3D model render, produced with a program called Carrara, by DAZ3D. I wanted something that wasn't too off the wall but had a little danger, like you said, 'urban grit', the seedy warehouse and stuff, and after you stare at it for a minute or two you notice that Nick has a very nice long-barreled automatic with him. I am very pleased with how it turned out.
In an example of art imitating life imitating art, in the second book I describe Nick through the eyes of Katie, and she sees him more as how the cover pic portrays him, so the render kind of gave him a 'face' that I didn't quite have yet when I wrote "One if by Air". The female, of course, is Angellina.
Q: When can we expect number 3, for those who are eagerly awaiting?
A: Number 3, yes, well, its moving, somewhat. < pauses >. Time and finances have been in somewhat tight supply and though I was hoping to have number 3 "on the shelves" by spring 2011 at the latest, thats just not in the cards. I think we are now probably around late fall or Christmas, depending on how a few other projects fall in. Not how I pictured it, but hey, isn't that an apt description for most of life? ( chuckles ) Que Sera, Sera.
(Author's Addendum: Last Dance is complete and available now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. To Take on Rome will be available late summer 2014.)
Pete, thanks so much for speaking with us.
Site last edited 25 April, 2014.
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Site created 06 August, 2009.