Interview with Peter Zachary Cohen

To begin, why these stories?
One answer is that stories provide experiences that otherwise would be missed, and experiences can be useful--for authors as well as readers. For example, the horse in "Morena Again" derives mostly from a horse my wife and I obtained while living in Wyoming. A very willing fellow once you got a rope on him, but that could be quite a game even in a corral. Twice he and I were whited-out by sudden spring snowstorms; I could barely see his ears. So I gave him his head and he got me safely home down through seven or eight invisible miles of ravine-carved hills. But what if he'd somehow gotten loose from me up there? I wrote the book to explore the possibilities and give me a better idea of what to be prepared for.
And what about "The Muskie Hook Re-Cast"?
Going out after muskie was one of my top joys when still very young. There was the building excitement of getting into a small wooden boat that would be pushed by a muttering 10-horse outboard slowly following a winding channel through some mystic flooded woodland to reach the open water and then the chance To Go For The Big Ones. Muskie fishing being what it is, we were as likely to come back through that channel disappointedly empty, but I always wanted to go for it again. And not many years later, on a North Woods lake, my mother, father, our guide and I encountered the same peril I set upon my characters in the story. I wrote it to offer an experience in muskie fishing for those unacquainted, and as a source of comparison for those who are.
Both these books are re-tellings of stories published earlier. Why so?
It’s been over 40 years earlier, and they were published primarily for children. Since then I’ve gotten other insights and have written now for a more general audience.
Have you written anything new?
Most recently, with a friend supplying the score, I’ve written script and lyrics for a musical based on happenings on 19th century steamboats. We’ve we had two local productions. Now we're wondering if anyone else might be interested. It's titled "The Great Persuader, or Hurrah for the Merry-Gold".
Any horses or fish or other animals part of that?
Not this time.
You’ve published other books featuring animal characters. Why is that?
There have been three other books involving human interactions with horses, one with feral dogs, one with a domestic bull injured on pasture by a stray hunter’s bullet. We live in the country and have camped in various places and ways. There’ve been lots of animal encounters I’ve yet to find the stories for.
What else have you done?
As to books, I’ve published the text for three picture books, one a fantasy, the others histories regarding an amazing early steamboatman, Henry M. Shreve (hence Shreveport, Louisiana) and an equally amazing one-armed explorer, John Wesley Powell. Earlier, “Morena” got me the chance to conceive and write two movie scripts for an educational series produced by Xerox, and for the 1976 Bicentennial I wrote a children’s musical that had 50 performances from Seattle to Washington, D.C.
Do such activities a living provide?
They help. I also coached writing courses at Kansas State University and Sue began teaching nursing at the area vocational school. And for twenty years we managed a farm flock of sheep, so that each spring we had young lambs racing about making use of a teeter-totter comprised of an old barn door laying half across an old pole. How quickly they learned to race up the lower side and then leap into the air as their weight made it tilt over! Then they’d come back at it the other way! No teaching required.
And now?
When our two-son lambing help grew up it became too uncomfortable leaving birthing ewes alone when we needed to go away or get some sleep. So the sheep are gone and our neighbor’s big machines do almost all the work we used be part of. Nature still provides hand-sized maintenance to be done and we raise deer, wild turkeys, coyotes, ‘possums, and other critturs and just let them run loose. That leaves time for bicycling, taking courses in various subjects by DVD, writing a column for our local Audobon newsletter, enjoying Sue's fine cooking, and dancing. We learn the dances done in the royal courts of Old England, and make up our steps to the Tin Pan Alley tunes of the Ragtime and Roaring Twenties years. And I've been on our county's planning commission since its founding, the year “The Muskie Hook” was published, a kind of permanent jury duty.
By-the-way, going back to "Morena Again" you mention the horse of your snowstorms a 'he'. The 'Morena' in your book is a mare.
When our kids were young, a neighbor gave us an even older horse. She was the gentlest soul, but got frenzied when anyone tried to nail shoes on her. She has her part in the book, too. And since both horses were brown, the Spanish word 'morena' seemed an easy-flowing name.
Published 2014-02-28.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Muskie Hook Re-Cast
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 27,200. Language: English. Published: February 19, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
(3.00 from 1 review)
First published in 1969 as a children’s book, this story of a day’s muskie hunting that comes near to deadly, told from above and below the water surface, and from personal experience, has been rewritten for a general audience, while staying within the era of the level-wind reel and the wooden Pikie Minnow.
Morena Again
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 34,500. Language: English. Published: August 24, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General, Fiction » Literature » Plays & Screenplays
(5.00 from 1 review)
An older teenager tries to capture a loose horse as his only chance at traveling far enough in a right direction for surviving a rangeland blizzard.