Interview with Pete Minall

What made you to write your first e-book?
I have always enjoyed reading, I love story telling in all its forms, verbal, theatrical, cinematic and of course the printed word. I was reading a book a couple of years ago and was persuaded to buy it by the blurb on the jacket detailing the diligent historical research which went into it well before fingers hit the keyboard for the first word of the story. This appealed to me as I love history and the book, although written by an American, was set in roughly the same area of England where I was living. Upon reading the first few chapters, it became obvious very quickly that much of the history was, well, to put it nicely, utter rubbish! After a while when yet another "carefully researched" historical fact was revealed as being patent nonsense (facts easily checked on-line,) I threw the book against the opposite wall whilst uttering expletives. This caused my wife to look up from her own book and ask what on earth the matter was. After telling her of some of the blatant plot errors and the historical rubbish I declared angrily that I could do better and she simply said "Well go ahead and write a book yourself." So I did.
So what did you do next?
Well I thought about it for ages and then sat down and thought about it some more, Months had now passed by and I became ever more determined to commit something to paper! At that stage I had no intention at all of publishing anything which may end up on paper, I was doing this purely as a mental challenge to myself to see if I could tell a yarn which was both fun, original and yet historically accurate. I needed one of Hitchcock's "MacGuffins" ~ A plot device upon which to hang a story. After reading lots of stories about unresolved historical mysteries or mysterious deaths and lost treasures alongside talking with a few friends, an idea slowly formed. Then I started thinking about the writers truism which states "write about what you know and like." An idea came to me very quickly and I started work on the novel. This became a story which has not yet been published which features my all time hero Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While writing this book my own "MacGuffin" came to me and I quickly realised this plot device enabled me to extrapolate the story I was working on not only into the future but also into the past, so four books were written in tandem. This also allowed me the freedom to explore different periods in time hundreds of years apart. A series was born which I have now called "The Trust" and the first book to be published is called "The Spy, The Dwarf and The Mongol."
Incidentally the third book in the series is where my starting point began.
What do you do for pleasure?
An interesting Question.
I have many hobbies and interests but I guess the longest running one has proven to be my membership of the Sealed Knot. This is a historical re-enactment society which puts on grand battles for charity, raising funds for communities while educating people about the English Civil War. This period provides the back drop for the second book in "The Trust" series. It is based in 1647 at the end of initial hostilities. I have fought both with Pike and Shotte within my Regiment over the years and now spend most of my time on battle fields nattering to old friends and quaffing ale in the beer tent! I still take to the field and have an annual "play" with the pike in my Parliamentarian Regiment, called James Carr's Regiment of Foote. After well over forty years of "Battling for Charity" I have only ever been hurt once, when I broke a bone in my foot after being trampled by a Cavalier cavalryman.
I also Kayak on my local beach which is very long and sandy. It has a shallow gradient and if you fall off when you are a hundred yards from the beach the water only comes up to your chest. Perfect, especially when the fish are jumping around you or you are being followed by a seal.

I also adore old English customs and music. My wife and I revived the old Somerset custom of "The Visiting House Wassail" in the town we lived in. A great revival of a fabulous old tradition. I'm pretty sure a future book will end up entwined here somewhere along the line. Now I have moved to Cornwall there are still plenty of traditional events to go and see, my favourite being the Padstow 'obby 'oss which comes into its own on Mayday.

I also play a little English folk music on my Hammered Dulcimer and English concertina.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small North Somerset village, so looking back, my childhood was a rural idyll. I remember a loving family and a hard working Dad. There were plenty of long hot summer days when my school friends and I would wander around the village or into the neighbouring fields and orchards scrumping apples. Best of all was when we would go to the local woods and make dams in the streams, build dens or just play together. Playing in, on and around the local railways sidings which adjoined my local wood was high adventure for a ten year old. I guess my childhood influenced my writing only in as much that my play fired my imagination, climbing trees became climbing the rigging in a pirate ship, the woods were where Red Indians roamed or were where the German parachutists might have landed or we would guard the small river skirting the woodland to fend off the expected Viking longships. I loved my childhood.
When did you first start writing?
I always loved English at school and would enjoy doing the homework which involved stories being invented or a particular subject or person which had to be explained on paper. My lack of technical expertise at doing this never got in the way of my youthful enthusiasm. I suppose the biggest sub-conscious influence I had later on in my life were my twenty years or so watching and being intimately involved in live theatre. I also loved original stories and plots I would see on TV or in the cinema.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
This is quite an easy and short one. Paddy.
I love the technology and user friendliness of the I-pad.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Quite simply the enjoyment comes from telling a story which you hope other people will also enjoy.
I am always amazed when a little idea comes to you as you are typing and how it seems to flow from being a half formed idea which runs through the fingers to the keyboard and just creates its own life. Sometimes a leading character or situation strays into an area where the original story had no intention of going. I love that organic and free reign aspect of story-telling. Words just seem to pop into the mouths of some of my characters as I write them.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The most painstaking aspect of the whole process has been deciding how I would publish and distribute my stories. They are written for fun and my own enjoyment, as a personal exercise. So I did not want the publication side of things to taint the enjoyment of the writing. I found Smashwords to be a very helpful company with oodles of free advice including heaps of online tutorials as to the nuts and bolts of the operation. The layout and simplicity of their site from the point of view of an author is great and there are constant updates with news and useful hints and tips for authors. The financial side of the operation runs smoothly and their authors "Dashboard" means you can change many aspects of how you sell your book very easily. All in all it is a site which has thought about the authors needs and tried to satisfy them in an understanding way. It has taken the pain out of the process.
What do your fans mean to you?
I feel very honoured that people take the trouble to not only buy my book with their hard earned cash but are happy to invest their time in reading a story which I want to tell them. Hopefully at the end of the process they will think neither their money nor time was wasted. The ideal scenario is that they then tell other people if they enjoyed the experience and journey, this may of course also lead to people getting hold of another book I have written.
I am very grateful to anyone who has invested in me. In return I hope they have been entertained along the way.
What are you working on next?
At the moment the remaining three novels in "The Trust" series have been written, but now comes the hard slog of re-writes and tidying things up to get them ready for publication. After a break of a couple of months, passages which you return to often need work, making you realise how inadequate you were on the first draft!
At this precise instant I am finishing off the second in the series called "Matthew and the Kilderkin" which is set against the background of the end of the first English Civil War in 1647. It deals more specifically with the last six months or so of the life of Matthew Hopkins who was more famously known as "The Witchfinder General." Upon interrogation of a group of people suspected of witchcraft in the town of King's Lynn in Norfolk, he stumbles across a mystery which he attempts to resolve. The Witch trials in the East of England were at their height at this time. Hopkins died at the age of 27, still a young man, but what an infamous life he led.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love the detective novels of Peter Lovesey, all set in and around Bath, a city I know well and love. Fabulous yarns.
I was lucky enough to meet and chat with James Goldman who wrote my all time favourite film "The Lion in Winter." No one writes sparkling, pithy dialogue quiet like him.
There are so many fabulous people I have read over the years. I suppose the "William" books were the first ones which started me reading, then Arthur Ransom and on and on....
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My garden and the weather.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do all sorts of activities and have many hobbies ranging from writing, photography, playing my hammered dulcimer and English concertina. I Edit and write a magazine for my Re-enactment group, I love pottering in my shed and garden, doing the odd bit of film work and playing Euro board games, which adore with a passion.
I also love watching the birds and squirrels which come daily to the garden. I also love sea kayaking but admit to being a fair weather kayaker!
Quite a full itinerary now I see it laid out on paper.
How do you approach cover design?
This is a very hard thing to do. I guess when I see a design that I feel is right my gut instinct takes over.
"The Spy, The Dwarf and The Mongol" had around a dozen incarnations before I chose the cover which now accompanies the book. Many of these initial roughs I did myself and I thought none were appropriate. In the end I went with an American designer.
At the moment on my web site there are some covers for up and coming books which are there for illustrative purposes only, you will see that when the final cover for each is chosen how the design will have drastically changed.
Published 2015-05-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Orlando's Quest
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,680. Language: English. Published: January 16, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
Orlando’s Quest Has Orlando Porthtowan really discovered a secret map hidden by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle within a Sherlock Holmes story? Or is it just a figment of his overactive imagination? Join him and his two companions as they attempt to unravel the treasure hunt of a lifetime. This stand-alone story is the final book in “The Trust” series.
Doyle and Wells
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 42,110. Language: British English. Published: December 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
Doyle and Wells It is the 1890’s, the age of Queen Victoria. One of the great questions of the era was, “Do the dead have a voice?” Join Arthur Conan Doyle and a young H G Wells as they journey through the murky world of Victorian séances, on a phantasmagorical treasure hunt, following a trail of secrets from beyond the grave. To quote Sherlock Holmes, "“Come, Watson, come! The game is afoot"
Matthew and the Kilderkin
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,810. Language: British English. Published: June 4, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom
Matthew and the Kilderkin The year 1647 finds England reeling from the turmoil of the first Civil War. It is a time when witch hunting was its bloodiest peak. While conducting an interrogation of alleged witches, Matthew Hopkins, the feared “Witchfinder General” discovers a secret so explosive it could change the fortunes of both men and the Nation. Will lies, intrigue and cold-bloodied murder p
The Spy, The Dwarf & The Mongol
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 95,310. Language: English. Published: November 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Historical » Medieval, Fiction » Adventure » General
This is a medieval tale of monarchs, codes, myth and murder, explaining one of the greatest mysteries of the age. Join this epic journey which takes you from the camp of Genghis Kahn through the heart of the Templars, to the very King of England. An original story which might just make you question what you think you know about history.