Interview with Peter Cooke

When did you first start writing?
When I was about 16 years old. I was very in to Science fiction and submitted several short stories for Astounding Magazine(not published). I did not have the time to write for many years after this, being very busy obtaining a degree and post-graduate qualifications. As I progressed into Senior Management, I had less and less time. It was only when I took early retirement at sixty that I began to write again. It took me almost five years to find my voice as a writer and carry out the basic research for the Tudor Queen's Glassmaker Series. The first edition of book one, The Glass Dagger, appeared in 2006. This was rewritten and the final third edition was published in 2008.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised in Belper, Derbyshire, a small market town in the North Midlands of the UK. The towns main employers were mainly textile companies. The biggest local employer was English Sewing Company and my parents rented a mill house in the shadow of the North Mill, built in 1803/4 by Jedediah Strutt and designed by his son, William. This mill is very important.architecturally, being a wood-framed building that was the first example of a fire proof construction.
The Strutt family were generous benefactors to the town, building good houses for their workers and providing both junior schools and an excellent grammar school. Having influenced my education, they also became my employer when I left school.
The Strutt family were at the very forefront of the Industrial Revolution along with their partner Richard Arkwright. These pioneers of invention, were far more than exploiting mill owners. They devoped the cotton spinning industry , which was to provide a livelihood for thousands of uneducated people who otherwise would have lived and died in absolute poverty.
It was their achivements and desire toi raise the living standards of their woirkers that led me to write my latest book, Revoltion, Wmber Mills - a family saga.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Recently, inspired by my background in textiles, I began a new series about the Industrial Revolution in the Cotton Spinning Mills,. These were the first spinning mills in the World and were built in the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire. The importance of the mills is reflected in their World Heritage status. Belper Mill rebuilt in 1803-4, by William Strutt, is the earliest example of a fire proof construction.

I grew up in a house belonging to the Strutt family who owned mills in my home town. The Strutt family were very generous benefactors to the town and I later attended The George Herbert Strutt Grammar School. In my twenties, I worked for English Sewing Cotton Company Ltd. who were the successors to the Strutt family in their mills at Belper and Milford, Derbyshire. I spent most of my early career working my way up to senior management in the textile industry, later moving to the chemical industry.

When I began writing I capitalised on my hobbies of glass collecting and studying English History and began writing the Tudor Queen's Glassmaker Series, which now runs to four books. Having completed the latest in this series, I decided to work on a new series based on my textile background.. For some time I have felt that the entrepreneurs who started the Industrial Revolution in the textile industry have had a bad press. The abiding image of the period is of "dark satanic mills" and exploitive, tyrannical owners. In the fictional series which I have called Amber Mills, an Arkwright style mill on the River Amber, a tributary of the River Derwent, I have tried to redress the balance a little.. The first book, scheduled to be published possibly later this year, or next, is provisionally titled Revolution - Amber Mills - A Family Saga.

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What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Trying to tell a good story that is as true to the historical facts as I can make them. However, since the books are fiction, I feel it is important to transport readers back to the time and place and set the scene in sights and sounds to help them understand it more clearly. I try to strike a balance between the story and the historical facts, as I am trying to tell an exciting story, not lecture about history.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favourite authors, in no particular order are, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C Clarke, Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, Bernard Cromwell, Jeffrey Archer, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Agatha Christie, Elizabeth Chadwick and Wilbur Smith. Over the years I have been a voracious reader and this list is by no means exhaustive. I love a good read.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
At first I had a Kindle, but these days I use my android tablet and phone more.
How do you approach cover design?
I design my own covers. The Tudor Queen's Glassmaker Series has a main background based on a detail showing glassmaking. It comes from a 12th century church on the glass makers island of Murano, in the Venetian lagoon. Each book in the series has a different centre piece appropriate to the title and a different font colour.

For the new Amber Mills series, I have chosen a background based on an appropriate invention e.g. Revolution, which is book one of the series shows a picture of Samuel Crompton's spinning mule, which was an iconic development in cotton spinning.
Published 2016-06-18.
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