The Booktopia Book Guru asks
Ten Terrifying Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I was born in Carlisle, a farming town in Massachusetts, although it’s not much of a farming town anymore. It was a great childhood, one in which I had a lot of freedom and a lot of outdoors to explore. I went to public schools, and then to college in Connecticut. I now live in Massachusetts, which means that I’ve spent almost my entire life in New England. I guess I was lucky enough that I was born in a place that I love.
2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
This is boring, I know, but I wanted to be a writer, a writer, and a writer, although at twelve I wanted to be a writer/adventurer, kind of an Ernest Hemingway figure. Best-selling books and African safaris. At eighteen I wanted to be Martin Amis, sleeping and boozing my way around some city. Oh, and also with the best-selling books. Then at thirty, I’d have settled for making any kind of money whatsoever from writing. A small paycheck and one reader would have made me very happy.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
Sticking with the theme of being a writer, I think I had the very mistaken belief that part of being a writer is developing a writer’s personality. Drinking scotch, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, acting like a jerk, when, in reality, becoming a writer is only about doing the writing.
4. What were three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
Number one would be the films of Alfred Hitchcock. I’ve been obsessed with his movies since I was about ten years old. He just made so many terrific, and unique, thrillers, really pushing the art form. Number two would be the early novels of Robert Parker, who wrote the Spenser series of detective thrillers. Again, I read these when I was young, and they were my entryway into the world of thriller novels. Third would be John D. MacDonald, another American thriller writer. He wrote the Travis McGee series of books in the 1960s through the early 1980s. He was a brilliant writer who also knew how to plot a really exciting thriller. Not easy to do.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Trust me, there were very few artistic avenues open to me. Can’t sing, can’t act, can’t paint. I’d love to be able to do any of those things well, but it’s not going to happen in this lifetime.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
It’s called The Kind Worth Killing and it’s about what happens when two strangers meet in an airport bar and decide to tell each other their secrets.
(Publisher’s blurb: Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?
Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?)
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I hope they take away a memory of being caught up in a thriller that made them forget about all the things we hope to forget about when we pick up a book. And I hope they think twice the next time they see someone attractive at a bar and decide to spill some secrets.
8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
Stephen King. He’s the only contemporary writer who I am convinced will still be read in a hundred years. He’s written so many horror classics, plus a few duds, but he keeps challenging himself, and keeps putting in the work. Also, I’ve never met him, but everything I hear makes it sounds like he’s a guy worth knowing.
Honestly, to sell enough books so that I can keep doing this as a career. That’s about it. For a long time, my only ambition as a writer was to get one book published. That happened, and I upped my goals, so maybe I’ll up them again. A bestseller list? Sure, that would be nice.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Write every day until you finish whatever it is that you’re working on, and then go back and edit. Getting the story right is so important, and I think that happens when writers push forward, spending time every day with what they’re working on.
Peter, thank you for playing.
by Peter Swanson
I looked at the pale, freckled hand on the back of the empty bar seat next to me in the business class lounge of Heathrow airport, then up into the stranger’s face.
‘Do I know you?’
Delayed in London, Ted Severson meets a woman at the airport bar. Over cocktails they tell each other rather more than they should, and a dark plan is hatched – but are either of them being serious, could they actually go through with it and, if they did, what would be their chances of getting away with it?
Back in Boston, Ted’s wife Miranda is busy site managing the construction of their dream home, a beautiful house out on the Maine coastline. But what secrets is she carrying and to what lengths might she go to protect the vision she has of her deserved future?
A sublimely plotted novel of trust and betrayal, The Kind Worth Killing will keep you gripped and guessing late into the night.
About the Author
Peter Swanson’s debut novel, The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, was described by Dennis Lehane as ‘a twisty, sexy, electric thrill ride’ and in the Observer as ‘very hard not to read in one sitting’. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.