Thursday, October 9, 2008

Interview With Author Peter Von Brown

Peter and I met online via a mutual blogging friend (Danielle Mari). The first time I checked out his site, I was immediately captivated by the cover of his first novel, Peter Pan's NeverWorld. We began a conversation about that novel, and about writing, and I was so excited about his concept, I asked him to be a guest on my blog.

When did you start writing novels and what made you choose to pursue publication?

Though I remember myself as always writing, I had to admit my penchant for being verbose in middle school. However, my first novel of note came about in high school. Short stories are not my forte. My short pieces exist, but I’m not entirely happy with them. Maybe with some expansion…

When word gets out one is a writer, a variant of the question “Oh, have you published anything?” invariably follows. So my publication endeavor is partly a result of encouragement. I figure the notion of being able to make a living doing something you’d be doing anyway would appeal to anyone.

You are known as an avid fan of Peter Pan. When did your fascination with Pan begin?

As a child, naturally. Peter Pan is difficult to avoid. Like many kids, the boy enthralled me. Even to the extent of pretending to be Peter Pan. When a story haunts me, I gravitate toward the original. I’m a purist at heart and my research into Sir J.M. Barrie generated special respect for his work.

In fact, you loved Pan’s adventures so much, you wrote a sequel to Barrie’s original story. Can you tell us about it?

True, my love of Pan’s adventures influenced my decision to write a sequel. However, another reason took precedence. Barrie pondered another Pan adventure himself. Once this came to light for me, my college credit research into the modern mythmaker flew in another direction. I could not have prevented myself from writing the novel. I relished searching for tidbits from Barrie’s notebooks, hunting for clues in the original stories and musing on Barrie’s musings about his character. All in the relentless pursuit of fitting a puzzle together. I incorporated other elements such as Barrie’s photographs, historical facts and his unused screenplay. I devised a story from the shadows he left behind.

I’m astounded by the number of discrepancies in other derivative works of Barrie’s creation. In my view, remaining true to the original stories is of utmost concern. As I wrote in my Foreword: Certainly I am not suggesting this is what Barrie would have written. But, just as assuredly, his thoughts have been included for the first time.

Peter Pan’s NeverWorld is available for purchase now but you are actually pursuing a publishing career in a different genre, aren’t you?

I may or may not have switched genres, depending on how one classifies Peter and Wendy. Generally I compose Urban Fantasy. I see the tale of the Boy Who Never Grew Up as one of the first Urban Fantasy books. True, much of it takes place on a magical isle with inhabitants such as fairies and mermaids. However, the island is not another world like Oz or Narnia. Plus, one of the most salient aspects is Peter Pan intruding into the urban land of London, bringing fantasy with him. The ending takes place in the city as well, promising the enchantment of Peter Pan will return. But yes, I am seeking publication of other UF novels.

Describe your latest novel and tell us where we can read a sample.

What If It’s a Trick Question? is my spin on the “Jeepers, I found another world” plot. The story takes place over the month of October. Each chapter is a day in the life of high school freshman (and wannabe skater) Jeremy Strache. Jeremy finds himself frequenting a mysterious, magical Courtyard. Soon he’s entangled with rival warlocks from another world vying for control of ours. Can he cope with his troubles at school and home, his ADHD diagnosis and all the magical mayhem afoot? He’ll have to…and he’ll have to act fast. For unless he intervenes, both worlds will end at midnight on Halloween.

The entire book is available to read online. It’s posted on the HarperCollins site Authonomy. You can find it here.

What do you find most rewarding about writing novels?

The discoveries made along the way. I’ve always found pleasure in research. And characters have a way of interjecting. It’s delightful when unforeseen developments unfold.

Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

What If It’s a Trick Question? grew out of a real life experience of walking by what at first appeared to be an architectural impossibility. I pondered who might live there. Why were they important? What if…and the next thing I knew Jeremy wouldn’t shut up. Obviously I am inspired by other works. Perhaps music? Out of the blue. Anywhere. I ask a lot of questions and then play “What If?” with the answers.

What’s the best piece of advice you can give aspiring authors?

Well, I’ll tell you, but it will sound cliché. Never give up. If you’re writing from compulsion, then keep pursuing your passion. No matter what happens, you’ll have created a world on the page. And that’s pretty cool.

Okay, now for some random fun stuff: =)

Coke or Pepsi?

Cola is Cola to me. I barely drink soda pop anymore.

Secret (or not so secret) vice:

Potato Chips. I can’t let myself buy them.

If you could live in any time period, which would you choose?

I’ve always been drawn to the 18th Century. Which is odd, since I hate to dress up.

The one piece of technology you couldn’t live without:

As reluctant as I am to say it, the proverbial “computer.” It truly is a magic box.

Muscle cars or classics?

Good grief. I’m not a car person.

Music or art?

A very cruel question. But I will have to pick music. I believe music is one of our greatest achievements. If you’ll pardon the pun, I feel it strikes a chord more so than other art.

Would you ever get a tattoo? What would it be?

It’s never been in my plans. But if I had to choose one, my first instinct is the Triforce emblem from The Legend of Zelda on the top of my left hand. Yeah, like that’s going to happen.

What historical event would you go back in time to witness?

December 27, 1904. Opening night at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. I’d like to be sitting next to Barrie when the curtain goes up. An answer not related to Peter Pan: The building of Stonehenge. I really want to know what went on there, don’t you?

Surprise me with something unexpected about you:

I can wriggle my nose like Samantha Stephens in Bewitched.

To learn more about Peter Von Brown, visit his site. You can purchase Peter Pan's NeverWorld here. Please leave questions or comments for Peter and he'll check back during the day to answer them. =)


  1. I love YA books (it looks like both of yours are YA). I'm glad C.J. let us know where to find you.

    Will you be writing a sequel to Neverworld?

  2. Yes, I do have plans for more NeverWorld books. However, I prefer not to think of them as sequels so much as "other adventures." ;)

  3. Peter,

    Like you, I can tend to be on the verbose side. Sometimes it just takes some of us a few more words to say something, right?

    Also like you, I enjoy the research aspect of writing. I'm sure NeverWorld benefits from all you did to study Barrie's works and remain true to them.

    I didn't know there was a man alive who didn't like cars--or at least admitted it publicly. Mine caresses his blond beauty of a '68 MGB every chance he gets.

  4. I'm going to shamelessly plug for my wacky Petey pal here--- I recently reread Barrie's original and then Pete's "Neverworld." Honestly, I must say that Barrie's adventure infuriated my feminist side. (Come on- Wendy gets to go to this magic land and then she... DARNS SOCKS AND CLEANS?!?!) Pete's book, however, not only neatly "fixes" the problems of the original, but still does a fantastic job of echoing Barrie's distinctive voice and pushing the adventure to new heights. And I'm not just saying that because he's my car-hating buddy! A great book, yall!


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