Interview with Peter Cruikshank

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was still a preteen when I picked up my first real book. It was a time when I was dealing with the breakup of my parents, leaving me to struggle with my role in not just my family, but the world as a whole. A friend's father was an author and lent me 'Stranger in a Strange Land' by Robert Heinlein. A interesting choice as it was a mix of science fiction and mysticism. I had never read either and it left me with a ton of questions - remember I was around twelve. When I told my friend's father that the book had left me with questioning, he told me that the author, Robert Heinlein, would be proud. I read the book twice, losing myself in the characters and the events that changed their lives. Still leaving me scratching my head, but so excited and wondering what other worlds were out there. After the second reading I ran out an found another book by Heinlein, then searched out for all the ones I could find (and he had a lot). I stumbled across other authors that were different, but still provided the escapism that drew me in. C.S. Lewis, Asimov, J.R.R. Tolkien, and dozens of other Sci-Fi and Fantasy authors became my best friends. As I grew and read more, I dreamt of writing my own books. Of being able to provide escapism for others, even if only for a few hours. The first book I read, with a strange story that lived up to its name, put me on the path to being a published author. It has taken me over forty years, but the dream that started for a teen trying to find moments away from it all, has become a reality.
Describe your desk
I am one of the lucky ones that actually has a room set aside to write. But you are just as likely to find me in front of the TV, in the Family Room, typing away on my laptop. I have to have the TV on, music playing, or something in the background. Otherwise my mind can't focus. But back to my desk. I actually made it a few years ago. I couldn't find a desk that fit into the space I had, so I just cobbled together a frame, stained some sheets of wood, and had a piece of glass cut to put on top. I am a bit of neat freak, so I generally don't have papers spread all over it. If I need to arrange Plot Cards or layout manuscripts in stacks, I just use the floor. I could probably buy a newer desk, one that had more bells & whistles (like drawers), but I am comfortable with what I have. It's like me, thrown together from bits & pieces of a lot of different experiences.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up around Washington, D.C. Being at the hub of the nation definitely had an impact. Our local news was what everone else saw on their National news. It was a cosmopolitan type of life. It wasn't until later that I realized not everyone had friends from all over the world. My parents were Boaters, so they hung out with a full range of people including U.S. Senators, owners of five star restaurants, mechanics, and many others. They were just as comfortable with one as another, and I picked up this attitude; which I thank my parents for ingraining it in my personality. Growing in this environment I came to realize that there were many viewpoints to every situation and have tried to remember that in my writing. No one is all good or all bad, but a mix. The "Good Guys" just happen to have a bit more of the good than the "Bad Guys".
When did you first start writing?
I started to write my first book when I was eighteen. I never finished it, but I remember it clearly because it made me realize that I might actually become an author. I had many more attempts over the years, but each book was deserted as life got in the way. They all sit nicely in a drawer somewhere waiting for their time in the lime-light. It has been a forty plus year journey and now that I have learned my craft - at least enough to finish and publish a novel -- I am looking forward to the next thirty plus years of writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
This is kind of a hard question to answer. I have been asked it many times and always stumble in response. I have always loved big epic stories like Lord of the Rings and all the books of Heinlein's about Lazarus Long. When I decided to seriously focus on writing and publishing this book the rationale thing would have been to write a nice standard-sized stand-alone novel. But I just couldn't do it. Don't get me wrong, I actually started out that way, but it didn't take very long before I knew it would not all fit into a single book. Considering the fact that I chopped off the first book, because it was getting way too long, the book still ended up over 500 pages in length. The actual story of twins switching places and then finding themselves at the center of a world-wide battle between good and evil, came to me while taking a course from the author Holly Lisle. It was an exercise in trying to come up with story ideas. And I think I ended up with a pretty good one. Of course there had to be dragons, elves, and other mythical/mystical beings -- it is in my DNA :-)
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
This question is easy for me. When I hear how much people like my stories. I have an ego just slightly large than Texas and to hear people tell me how much they enjoyed a story of mine -- well, there are few feelings as good as that. Just getting the words down on paper (actually computer) makes my heart light. i can sit for ten hours straight and write until my wife reminds me that I already missed dinner. Writing bring joy like few other things can. Now Revising and Editing are a different story (yuk!).
What do your fans mean to you?
As I mentioned in a previous answer, one of my greatest joys comes from people enjoying and getting something out of my stories. Fans are not just people that read my stories. I see each fan as a personal relationship, the same as if I was sitting down for a cup of coffee with my closest friend and sharing my latest tale. When I write, I write as if I am telling a story to a single individual. It is personal.
What are you working on next?
Right now I have two projects in the works. One is the second book in the Dragon-Called Legend series. Since this is a continuation of Fire of the Covenant the basis for the story line is already set somewhat. I have spent a lot of time mapping out the details of the story on plot cards and already started writing the first couple of scenes. The second project is the first book in another series. Though this second series will be stand-alone books, unlike Dragon-Called Legend series which is One Big Book. The current plan is to set it in the same world as the Dragon-Called Legend, but several hundred years in the future. I started this book while I was still editing Fire of the Covenant. If all goes well I should publish both books in 2014. Providing I don't get too distracted. And speaking of distraction, I recently finished a short story for an Anthology (Gifts for Holly) that was recently published in December 2013. So a lot of projects going on, but happily I am enjoying all of them.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I play golf one day a week and workout a couple of days at the gym. I really enjoy movies, especially romantic comedies and epic stories like Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia. There are a number of TV shows that I DVR such as Voice, American Idol, So You Think You Can Dance, and a few sitcoms. Any time with my family is always a first priority and I rarely turn down getting together with friends. I am lucky that I live 20 minutes from the beach and not much longer to the mountains so I have plenty of places to go when I need a timeout from my writing or the world in general. Of course there is reading. I am an avid reader and always looking for my next read. And naturally I look for epic fantasy novels :-)
What is your writing process?
It is kind of haphazard. I am what is called a Pantser writer. Well, not totally one. A Pantser is someone that just sits down, writes by the Seat of their Pants and hopes that it makes sense at the end. I do go through a planning process, but it is mostly identifying the major scenes that link the beginning to the end of the book. So I know where I want to end up and have points to check myself as I go along. But a lot of the story comes out as I am writing and I fill in the minor scenes as I go along. The goal though is to get the story down on paper, the first draft. Then Revision and Editing. On Fire of the Covenant it took me twice as long to revise and edit as it did to create the first draft. I ripped out a dozen scenes, but then put back in fifteen new ones; which might account for why the book is so long :0)
Published 2013-12-19.
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Books by This Author

Betrayal of the Covenant (Dragon-Called) (Volume 2)
Series: Dragon-Called. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 234,030. Language: English. Published: February 2, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » General
Twins, Willoe & Rowyn, continue their quest to find the Sword and the Staff, that will help them defeat the Shin-il Priest. The key to opposing the foreign Shin-il priests and taking back Taran lies in an all-out assault on Tierran's Wall - built to be impregnable, but an unimaginable betrayal may end the Covenant and destroy the twins ability to defeat the Great Evil, the Olcas Mogwai.
Fire of the Covenant (Dragon-Called) (Volume 1)
Series: Dragon-Called. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 194,320. Language: English. Published: December 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Royal brother and sister twins learn they are Dragon-Called and empowered with magical abilities that put them in a battle between evil priests, who want to use the twins in their quest for world domination, and the Burning Lady, who requires that the twins fulfill a covenant that an ancestor of the twins made with the dragons. If only the magic of the Covenant doesn't kill them first.