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

Author: JaimeKristal

JaimeKristal is a freelance editor and writer. She started her book review blog "Tales of a Booklover" for the enjoyment of sharing her love of reading.

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