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Peter Best Author Interview

by Kathryn Bax

Peter Best was born in the North East of England in the beginning of the sixties. Albeit the son of a shipyard worker, Peter was brought up in a mining community until the age of eight when for some reason or another somebody made the decision, the community should be uprooted and moved to a place called Cramlington on the outskirts of Newcastle.

After his time in school he served an apprenticeship working mainly on building sites working as an electrician, which he hated by the way. However, as Peter always looks on the positive side of things, he was pleased he did. It was on these building sites where he came across many different characters who he was pleased to call his friends.

"Real people," he called them. And so it turned out that many of these so called real people, and others of course, featured quite strongly in his novels. Of course it was not just the people he met on the sites. Over the years Peter has come across various different characters on his travels, many of them have played their part in working their way into his mind, and into his novels.

In 1996 he married for the second time to a young German girl, and soon afterwards moved to the south of England to start a new life.

Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work out as planed, so he upped sticks again and moved to Wiesbaden in Germany to help support his wife as she pushed at her career as a doctor. Peter fell in love with the culture of his new surroundings, especially the culture of one of his neighbouring counties, Bavaria.

However, as they say all good things come to an end and he moved back to England. It was at this time when his writing started to come together. Over the next few years Peter started to string together his thoughts and ideas for The Burden of Truth and its sequel. He now lives with his wife and daughter in a small seaside town in Essex called Frinton on Sea.

Frinton, along with its neighboring town, Walton on the Naze, both feature in his novel, The Burden of Truth.

Who is the real Peter Best?

What a great question to start with. The real Peter Best is nobody special. He’s just a guy like most who just wants to get on with life. However, saying that He’s the type of guy who wants to make the best out of his life and live it to the full. He does find this hard, even though he tries.

When you lived in north-eastern England and worked on building sites as an electrician, you mention in you website that there you met ‘real people’ who feature strongly in your novels. What was it about these people that influenced you so?

Over my years I’ve been wandering around this world of ours I’ve come across many people who try to make out they are something they are not. Not everyone mind you but some. I found most of these men and women somewhat shallow in their character, in a way they came across as false. However, what I found working on the buildings, most people there didn’t try to be anything they weren’t. Most were down to earth, came from normal working families, drove average cars and from what I could make out, earned a living wage etc. Of course I didn’t really know this for certain but that’s how it looked at the time. Anyway, what I loved about these guys was the diversity in their character and their thoughts about life in general. Many had different mannerisms, some guys were mild tempered, while others used to blow up at the drop of a hat. But no matter how different they were, I still found each one of their characters somewhat interesting and I guess I just warmed to them all. Many of them I still class as my best friends today.

You lived in Wiesbaden for a time, but then moved back to England. Did that experience shape you writing in any way? Have you thought about having your novels translated into German, or other foreign languages?

One of the great things about living in Wiesbaden was we lived in a flat, which had a great balcony overlooking a small wood. It was also a bit of a suntrap. Lucky for me my working day finished at three in the afternoon so I had plenty of time to sit there undisturbed for hours. It was because of this amount of spare time I had, I decided to do something with it. So that’s when my ideas for The Burden of Truth came about, and it was here where a great deal of the research was carried out. However, it should be said that it wasn’t until I returned to England when the writing of it really took off.
As for the book being translated into German, this is already in hand, and I’m very excited about it. Apparently there are only the last few chapters to go and it will be ready to format. Exciting times ahead.

Tell us something about you that would surprise us.

To be honest I don’t think there really is anything surprising about me. However, what makes me laugh is when people find out I play the harmonica, it’s always a big, “Do You?”

In your debut novel, the thriller suspense The Burden of Truth, your aim was to create a book that would stay with the reader long after the book was read. Do you think you achieved that, and how did you craft the book to meet that end?

Judging by what people have said to me, and going of some of the reviews, I’d like to think I have achieved this aim to a certain degree.
Of course I would love it, if it stayed with every reader, but I know this will never be the case as we all know all readers look for different things from books. But for those who it has stayed with them for a little while, and understood what I am trying to say, I am so happy they have. However, saying that, what I really hope is perhaps they act on the messages within. By the way, if only one person in the world has done this, and benefited from it, then that would make me a very happy man indeed.
As for, how did I craft this into the book? To be honest this was not so easy. When I first started on this project, I spent a great deal of time just writing the story. When the first draft was finished I looked at it, and at first was quite happy the way it had turned out. But it was only a story, it had no great heart behind it and certainly no great meaning. It was at this time when I decided it needed more. It was at this point when I made the decision to insert the messages into the book. This meant starting over again from scratch. It was a massive amount of work, but I’m so pleased I had done it the way it’s turned out.

Would you like to tell us about the messages found in The Burden of Truth, without any spoilers, and the premise behind them?

In all honesty I should say these messages aren’t new. As a matter of fact these messages are very well-known and quite old. All I’m trying to do is pass these messages on to those who have not heard them yet. Some messages state simple things like, try and live your life to the full before you regret that you can’t. Other messages are a little deeper. For example, throughout the book I make references to the subject of karma. The message I trying to portray here is how the Buddha tried to explain his thinking of how karma works.

What aspect of your writing did you struggle with, but have now overcome?

The biggest struggle I had was without a doubt writer’s block and the frustration it brings. I must have spent hours looking at the screen, or a blank piece of paper thinking of what to write. I really hated this time. The thing is I still get writer’s block now, but the difference is I cope with it better than what I used to. Instead of banging my head, I just relax a little and then get on with something else. At the moment I have a couple of projects on the go, and if one isn’t working, I just move on to the next and push that one along. It may not be the way I want to work, but at least I’m not wasting any more time.

How important is it for you to work with an editor?

During the course of producing a novel the manuscript crosses the palms of many individuals, who have various levels of input. To me the editor has the highest level of input. It’s no secret writers get so close to their work they can miss some things, which really stick out a mile. I’m not just talking about spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. I’m talking about things, like how writing styles might change. I’ll give you an example. In one part of The Burden of Truth, there is a part on a train, which is very fast moving during a chase. For some reason or another, halfway through this chase I slowed the pace down, only to speed it up again. Now I didn’t notice this, but my editor did and advised me to change it. I’m so pleased she noticed this because looking back this piece of writing is much better. This example is by no means the only one. Trust me there were many more.

Who has been your biggest influencer in your writing and where do you hope to be, in your writing career, 5 years from now?

I remember a few years back I was asked this question at a writers café evening in Ipswich. The answer I gave back was The Buddha. This answer produced a great reaction, and of course everyone wanted to know the reason why. So the reason I gave this answer was because the theme running through The Burden of Truth does take on the subject of Buddhism, and some of the teachings of the Buddha. The reason I chose this theme was that I wanted something a little extra to go into my work. At the time I did know a little about Buddhism, and already had an idea what I wanted to put into the story. However, I wanted to be certain what I thought I knew was correct, so I carried out some more research into the subject. It was during this research I came across many other teachings of the Buddha, which fascinated me so much I had to put them into my story somewhere.
Now then, where do I hope to be in five years from now? Hopefully the projects I have on the go now will already have been on some readers bookshelves for sometime. Fingers crossed on that one, but if not, then it’s not the end of the world. But what I would really love, is to still have the same amount of enthusiasm and love for reading, as well as writing in five years, as I do now.

Would you like to tell us about your next books in the pipeline?

I’ve got three projects on the go at the moment. The first is the follow up to, The Burden of Truth. This is coming along quite nicely and hopefully have if finished in the not too distant future. The second is a story set in Scotland. This one has more of a crime feel to it, and I’m just about to finish the first draft.
The third project is set in New York and is at the advanced planning stage. This means the plot is in place, as well as the characters and the settings. However saying that, no doubt this will all change when I put pen to paper and new ideas come along as I’m writing. It’s all a journey.