As a boy, Peter Abrahams read voraciously, almost anything he could get his hands on, but he enjoyed adventure stories the most. “I wasn't one of those unhappy kids who loses himself in books. I was a pretty happy kid who did it,” he says. No other form of entertainment- movies, TV or Internet--comes close for him. Today, he feels very lucky that he has been able to add a few new stories to the collective body of written work. Peter Abrahams is today a well-known American writer of crime thrillers. His works include Oblivion, The Tutor, The Fury of Rachel Monette, Hard Rain, The Fan, Crying Wolf, Last of the Dixie Heroes, the Echo Falls Mysteries, and Lights Out, the last of which was nominated for an Edgar Award for best novel. He also has a series for younger readers called the Echo Falls Mysteries. There are three books in the series: Down the Rabbit Hole, Behind the Curtain, Into the Dark. They are all based around teen super sleuth Ingrid Levin-Hill. Besides, his series on Chet and Bernie Mysteries are also very popular. Here’s more on this renowned author.
Varsha: You have been an established children and young adult author for many years now. Describe your journey so far?
Peter: I was lucky in the beginning. An editor at HarperCollins children’s division read an adult suspense novel I'd written called The Tutor, in which some scenes were from the viewpoint of a ten-year old girl. The editor asked me if I was interested in writing for kids, and from that came the Echo Falls series. After that I just kept getting more ideas - another lucky development. And two more lucky circumstances which have helped include: my four kids - an enormous amount of raw material and secondly, I was once a kid myself.
Varsha: In your opinion, what is the hardest part of writing a book? Why?
Peter: Plotting, no question. For me, it seems to test the same part of the brain that geometry does. What's the fun in that?
Varsha: What factors are kept in mind while writing for children and young adults?
Peter: Because I either write in third-person close (Echo Falls, Reality Check, for example) or first person (Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street) I don't think much about this. The language and attitudes just naturally unfold in the right ways. For children, you do have to avoid certain obvious words, which can sometimes be a hindrance to realistic-sounding dialogue.
Varsha: What are you reading right now? Are there any authors or books that you would name as influences?
Peter: Right now I'm rereading Crime and Punishment. As for influences – Graham Greene and Ross Macdonald, but not to any huge extent. But, reading in itself has influenced my life. I will also admit that an obscure pirate story called ‘Red Pete The Ruthles’s I read as a kid stayed with me for a long time.
Varsha: What are your favorite books to give and get as gifts?
Peter: Lately I like getting good non-fiction, especially about the Civil War. As for gifting books, I prefer Lincoln's Sword (also Civil War) and all about Lincoln the writer - our greatest president and also our greatest writing president.
Varsha: Which is your next book that readers can look forward to?
Peter: Speaking of dogs, my next book is A Fistful of Collars. This is #5 in my Chet and Bernie series, written under my pen name, Spencer Quinn. These novels (all NYT bestsellers so far, knock on wood) are for adults, but lots of teens are reading them. They're classic P.I. novels narrated by the P.I.'s sidekick. In this case, that means that the narrator is Chet, the detective's dog. He's not a talking dog or human in any way...and, therefore, a sort of unreliable narrator. Chet is online; he has a blog - chetthedog.com, and is also on Facebook and Twitter.
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