John Peak is a recovering San Francisco trial lawyer, now living and writing full time in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico. John has previously published 4 novels:
M & M
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Stuttgart, Arkansas and graduated from high school in Biloxi, Mississippi. Biloxi High School was integrated the year after I graduated. My father was military so we lived in several places, including Japan where we lived in a Japanese neighborhood but went to school on base with other service brats. Going back to the deep south at age 13 after attending integrated schools was a shocker. Race was then and has remained a matter of profound concern to me, probably because of this sharp plunge into irrational injustice, perpetuated and approved by people who, otherwise, I could have admired.
Who are your favorite authors?
Number one: William Faulkner. I discovered Faulkner at first because I hunted in the same woods he wrote about. I only gradually figured out he wasn't telling hunting stories. I had to try to read everything he ever wrote when I discovered that our High School Librarian had banned him from the premises. I still sometimes catch myself doing a poor imitation of Faulkner, but it's just because he made such a strong, permanent impression on me when I was young. I still re-read the Yoknapatawpha trilogy, The Hamlet, The Town and The Mansion every few years and Go Down Moses even more often. I still read Melville, John Dos Passos, Mark Twain (who was not a racist) and many others from the 1920's and 30's and before. More contemporary writers would include Philip Roth, Annie Proulx, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, V.S. Naipal, Salman Rushdie, (yes) Stephen King, Scott Turow, John Grishom, Skip Walker, Joseph Wambaugh and probably more than a dozen others. We are very fortunate to have this much talent among our current writers.
The 14-year-old Confederate private and the young slave laborer knew each other before the war but would not have called each other friends. The soldier is struggling to stay alive day by bloody day but finds himself dragged into the slave's determined effort pry his young family out of bondage.