Writerly Questions with Peter Lukes

Warm weather has finally arrived and it is time to start thinking about what to read as you lounge around the pool, while your kids play in the park, or during your hour-long commute on the transpo. To help you prepare your summer-time TBR list, every Monday for the next few months I will be talking with some really fabulous authors about their latest or upcoming books.

To kick off the first of these interviews, I have Peter Lukes discussing his science-fiction novel Perchance to Dream. This e-book hit the shelves on Friday April 27th, and is published by the Urania Imprint.   

Peter Lukes grew up in Massachusetts, where he also went to college, law school, and graduate school.  He took an early interest in science fiction that was brought on by tv shows like Space: 1999Buck Rogers, and Start Trek. His addiction worsened when the original Star Wars came out, and once he discovered comic books and Dr. Who it was all over. From there he started reading authors like C.S. Lewis, Roger Zelazny and Isaac Asimov.   The unfortunate distraction of a career in law and academics prevented Peter from dedicating his time to dreaming up fantastic scenarios and impossible worlds, but eventually he returned to the passion that brought him so much joy in his youth.  Peter still lives in Massachusetts.  He is married and has a son (who was introduced to Star Wars as a toddler and has loved it ever since).

In one sentence, how would you summarize your  debut novel?
Perchance to Dream is a wild, surreal adventure where anything can happen and often does.

I bet writing it was an adventure, too. How long did it take to write?
That’s hard to say because it started as a short story, worked its way into a serial, then transformed into a novella, eventually to finally end up as a novel…  Probably two years total.

That must have meant a lot of drafts!  How many did you go through?
It was probably edited about 30 times, but speaking in terms of “drafts,” I’d say three.

So when is it that you write best: in the morning, afternoon, or at night?
Morning or late at night- when nobody is around! I’m also one of those rare people who has no trouble working from home.  The tv and refrigerator don’t call my name and, for whatever reason, I feel comfortable and not distracted.

Where is your favorite place to write?
My sunroom.  I can smoke cigars out there.

Now I know why you prefer writing when no one is around, it is because of your cigars! So how is it that you write in your sunroom, do you have a computer set up there or do you take a pen and paper?
Pen and paper first for notes and ideas, then it’s all about the laptop.

I know you have your cigars, but do you drink or eat while you write too?
I rarely eat when I write because stuff gets on my fingers and then it gunks up the keyboard.  I will usually drink a spring water, coffee, or when I really need inspiration, tequila.

How about music, is there anything you listen to while writing?
Occasionally.  I like listening to ballads when I write.  Simon and Garfunkle, believe it or not.

You mentioned you write at home, so what do you wear when at “work”?
Preferably sweats.  That’s what makes writing such a great job -no suits and absolutely no tie!

I would say I am envious, but I do a lot of work from home, too.  Do you have any other writing rituals?
I usually go through all the news websites and my emails before I start writing.  This way I don’t worry that the world may be ending and maybe I missed the warning.

Moving away from the writing process and getting a little more into your actual novel, how do you plot: Chapter by chapter or an overall synopsis?
I am meticulous when I plot.  I break out every section, chapter, and scene by general word count and I map the sections so that no character is left out too long.  I sometimes storyboard as well.  I find that this process is crucial to maintaining flow for the overall plot and keeping the reader’s interest.

I think doing a storyboard is a great idea, and being so organized probably makes you an editor’s dream! Speaking of those characters, though, how do you decide which narrative point of view to write from?
I don’t know that I make a conscious decision with choosing the narrative point of view, it just feels right.

Is that also how you choose your characters’ names, by what feels right?
Naming characters is one of the hardest things for me.  I’ve read a number of articles on the subject.  I usually try to find a name that applies to the character, so if it’s an elderly wizard I may look to latin or greek sounding names.  For modern background characters, I’ve sometimes used the names of relatives and friends.

Okay, you have written your story and polished it to perfection. Who is the first person to read your manuscript?
My editor.  I’m funny like that.  Unless it is a professional in the field, I don’t really want anyone’s random thoughts because I feel that it can become too much of a distraction.  I do take a professional editor’s comments very seriously though.

An editor’s comments are always important, they usually know what might make or break your novel with readers. So what did you do immediately after hearing you were being published?
Told my wife. It wasn’t the first time that a piece of my writing had been accepted, however, so we didn’t jump up and down or get all excited. Because the previous two times fell through for random reasons that were no fault of my own we were both excited, but we also held our breath.

I’m sorry that happened! It must have been such a let down, but these things can occur I suppose. Another industry known for that is film, so if your book were to become a movie who would you like to see star in it?
Tobey Maguire.  He looks and sounds a lot like how I pictured my main character.  My protagonist is also similar to several of the characters that Maguire has played (Spiderman, Seabisquit) where he’s a nice guy who trusts people a little too much.

I loved both those movies and thought Tobey was fantastic in them. I’m going to keep my fingers crossed your novel gets optioned *L0L* Since the first story you remember reading was also a book-turned-movie, why don’t you tell everyone about it?
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I was amazed that a book could take you away like that, to another world.  I’ve always had a love for portal fantasies ever since.  Some people think they’ve been overdone since the Harry Potter avalanche, but I still think that type of story can provide an escape that’s fun, exciting and worth reading if it’s done right.

I’m a big Harry Potter fan myself, I have all the books and movies. Do you have a guilty pleasure read?
Zombie fiction.  Absolutely love zombie stories ever since I saw the cheesy Dawn of the Dead sequels in the ‘80s.  This is another genre that many people say is oversaturated.  Once again I disagree because if you give me a good zombie story, with good characters, solid writing and some originality, I’d like to read it.  The thing I dislike is the new trend in zombie fiction with writers trying to get too original.  Zombie romance?  Really?  Zombie poetry?  No.

I have to admit I recently finished reading a zombie romance called “Dearly Departed” by Lia Habel which actually I enjoyed… unlike “Dawn of the Dead” when I saw it *blush* What book is on your nightstand right now?
Rise of Empireby Michael Sullivan. I’m not normally a big epic fantasy reader but this series sucked me in.  The author is also a bit of an inspiration because his books started not only as e-books, but self-published e-books.

Self-publishing and e-books are definitely on the rise, no longer considered to be of a lesser quality than print books; I still have a preference for paperbacks over an e-reader, though. How do you organize your library/book collection?
Science Fiction on the left, Fantasy on the right.  That is all.

If there was one book you wish you had written what would it be?
Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

I love the title of that book, it is so true! *L0L* What would you ask or talk about with any writer of your choice if you could?
Mark Twain and I’d like to talk about politics with him. My guess is that all of his insights about government and politicians would still be applicable today.

Mark Twain has some pretty famous characters in his novels. If you could be any character from any book, who would you be?
Dracula.  I think it would be fun to be any vampire, but the Big Guy beats them all.  I know he had a tortured life in most versions of his story, but how much fun would it be to live in his castles, scare the hell out of everybody, and be immortal?  The antagonists are always more interesting to me than the protagonists.

No sparkly vegetarian vampires for you then! Writing can be such a unique and imaginative process… Did you always want to be a writer?
In the back of my mind, yes.  A legal, academic, and political career got in the way before I finally got around to it though.

Well, thankfully you started writing again. What do you think is the best gift someone could give a writer?
A good review!

I have already heard great things about your novel, so I don’t think you have to worry about that. Do you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
Never quit.

One last question: what is one random thing most people don’t know about you?
I love building elaborate stuff with Legos.

 Previous Interviews: JLA Interview,  Marie Landry InterviewAvery Olive Interview

Books In My Mailbox (Apr-5)

This meme is hosted by The Story Siren.

I was at the library looking for something to read and a cover caught my eye… but I didn’t get that book out because I wasn’t into science-fiction. Every so often I would see that book on the shelf near the YA I always got, and finally I decided to give it a try.

Acorna by Anne McCaffrey & Margaret Ball
Acorna’s Quest by Anne McCaffrey & Margaret Ball
Acorna’s People by Anne McCaffrey  & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Acorna’s World by Anne McCaffrey  & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Acorna’s Search by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Acorna’s Rebels by Anne McCaffrey  & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
Acorna’s Triumph by Anne McCaffrey  & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

I ended up loving that book and read every book in the series. I tried to find them in bookstores, yet wasn’t having any luck though I would occasionally find one of them in the discards/sale section at the library. I was still missing four of them when I happened across a couple of independent bookstores in Toronto. Now I have all seven!

 Previous IMM:Mar-2Mar-3Apr-1

Simple Smile Saturday (Apr-4)

As some of you may know, a few months ago I started working as a freelance developmental editor for Musa Publishing. I am absolutely loving my job, as it is everything I ever dreamed it would be and more!

It is this “more” that is today’s smile, because it is also a little something to make you smile as well. You see, I put out a general call to all the authors who are published by Musa to see if anyone would like to do interviews or guest posts… and they said yes!

As of April 30th I will be posting at least an interview and/or guest post per week, so be sure to check back every Monday and Thursday for these!

 Previous Smiles: TorontoEckThe Radiance

Book Review: Pure by Jennifer L Armentrout

Synopsis: Even though she isn’t exactly happy about being the second Apollyon, Alexandria is beginning to realize that she needs Seth –if only because his presence puts her to sleep.  Between the daimon attacks at school, being called before the Council, and the appearance of the Furies, Alex has more than enough trouble in her life to give her nightmares. Alexandria’s life is on the line from enemies both known and unknown, and she discovers just what Aiden is willing do to keep her safe.

Author: Jennifer L Armentrout is an up-and-coming author quickly gaining popularity. Having only made her debut last year, Jennifer now has five published works and six more expected to be published by 2013.

Cover: The artwork in this series continues to be fantastic. It follows the theme of a fiery flower set on a single coloured background. I still like best Half-Blood’s purple hibiscus over Daimon’s green tulip and Pure’s blue Rose, but all of them are truly beautiful and always have meaning.

Writing Style: Jennifer has a quirky sense of humour that comes out in her stories, and quite often you won’t even realize you’re smiling as you read until someone catches you. Yet Jennifer is just as capable in writing serious or sad scenes, which balance out the novel’s overall aesthetic.

Pacing: The novel starts by dealing with the emotional aspects of Alex’s life, but then begins to build into a fully action-packed climatic battle between daimons and the sentinels.

Location: While the novel does begin in the Covenant of North Carolina, the latter portion takes place in New York.

Plot: I wasn’t expecting Alex to be relocated to another Covenant, but it does add a level of the unknown for the main characters and therefore a greater measure of danger. We know from the previous novel that the existence of two Apollyons is a threat, but the reader now gets to see the effect of their existence among others outside of their school.

Romance: The main character’s relationship with Aiden reaches a new level, with the pure always trying to do whatever it takes to protect Alex. This is counterbalanced by the growing bond between the Apollyons, the male half of which isn’t nearly as caring about what is safe and has a tendency towards the self-serving. Alex will have to choose between the forbidden and fate, though each in their own way could lead to her death.

Side Note: Having just recently watched the movie Thor, I now imagine Seth looking a lot like Chris Hemsworth did in that film.

Theme: In this book an image keeps reappearing –the upside down torch. It represents Thanatos who is both the god of peaceful death as well as an ancient Order of extremists presumed to no longer be in existence.  Due to the prominence of this emblem, it appears to be leading up to something of importance… but not yet revealed.

 Personal Thoughts: I have some theories about Alex’s stepfather Lucian, the Order of Thanatos, and even Leon, but in case I am even close to being right in my suspicions of where things might lead I shant say what those ideas are.

Quote: Everything changed the moment you were born.

The Verdict:  This was another fantastic novel by Jennifer L Armentrout. She manages to keep things fresh and original while adding layers of complexity. This series, though only just beginning, is one I already know I will enjoy over and over again. I will be looking forward to future books in the Covenant series and other works by this author.

 Previous Reviews: DaimonHalf-Blood

Waiting On Wednesday (Apr-4)

“Waiting on Wednesday” is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine
that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating.

I have read the prequel “Daimon“, the debut novel called “Half-Blood“, and I am now reading the second book of “Pure“. It will come as no surprise that I am now awaiting the third book of the Covenant series by Jennifer L Armentrout, “Deity“.

This new novel is set to come out in November of this year from Spencer Hill Press, a whole seven months from now… How will I ever endure not knowing what will happen next with Alex, Seth, and Aiden for so long?

 Previous Waiting: Mar-3Mar-4Apr-2

Teaser Tuesday (Apr-4)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Should Be Reading. Share the title and author, so others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences.


Pure by Jennifer L Armentrout

My quiet-as-a-ninja skill could definitely use some practice. 

“It’s pretty easy to understand. Even for you. Or did you wake up on the wrong side of stupid this morning?”

 Previous Teasers: Apr-1Apr-2,

Books In My Mailbox (Apr-4)

This meme is hosted by The Story Siren

It probably wont come as any surprise to some of you, but I received a very pretty blue flower-bedecked novel in my mail a few weeks ago. I was in the midst of moving these past couple months, so this little treasure has been stuck in a box until now…

Pure by Jennifer L Armentrout

I went digging through all my boxes of books until I was able to unearth this novel, not only because I was dying to read it but because the novel was being released this month. Check it out!

 Previous IMMs: Apr-1, Apr-3