Today I am delighted to be joined by author Peter Bennet who recently released his new book, When The Tide Goes Out.
Welcome Peter and many thanks for joining me on my blog today. When The Tide Goes Out is your recently published novel which is an eco thriller, how much research did you need to do for your book?
Having taught physical geography for the last thirty-four years, I was fine when it came to the geographical elements of my novel and didn’t have to do too much research. However, as the story progressed I decided to introduce several non-geographical subplots and, as I had little or no knowledge of, for example, how to fly a helicopter, I ended up spending a great deal of time researching these – but it was interesting and I enjoyed doing it.
The book is set in the Canaries, is there any reason why you chose there in particular?
I chose the Canaries because the events described in my book have actually happened there many times before and will, no doubt, happen again – perhaps, very soon. In fact, as recently as 1949 and then again in1971, the volcano featured in my book stirred causing the USGS to issue a yellow alert. I also chose the Canaries because the islands have always been a favourite holiday destination of mine. So, conjuring up descriptions of the landscape and climate was relatively easy; I just closed my eyes, imagined that I was back on holiday and then wrote what I could see in my mind’s eye.
Reading your book I couldn’t help but think what a great movie it would make. Are there any particular actors you would really like to see playing certain characters?
Funnily enough, I had this conversation with my family only the other day and the general consensus was that Colin Firth should play Tom, the easy going, recently retired school teacher who is searching for an escape from the stresses and strains of living in 21st century Britain; Hermione Norris would be perfect as Sarah, his difficult to please wife and Keanu Reeves could play Carlos, the man with whom she would like to have an affair. As for the professor, I can visualise Martin Shaw being ideally suited to the part, with Keira Knightley or perhaps Megan Fox playing alongside him as, Maria. The wife battering, misogynistic Franco, would have to be played by someone like a Jude Law or Martin Kemp and Russell Crowe would be perfect as his sadistic henchman, Batista.
What sort of books did you grow up reading and which authors in particular do you currently enjoy?
The first book that I picked up as a child and read from to cover to cover and just couldn’t put down was Jennings Goes to School by Anthony Buckeridge. I went on to read all twenty-four of the books in the series before progressing on to slightly weightier works such as Journey to the Centre of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. I also delved into several of his lesser known works such The Lighthouse at the End of the World – which is probably my favourite. So, given the type of books that I grew up reading, it’s hardly surprising that I ended up as a geographer and a teacher and ultimately wrote an eco-thrillers. I think I’ve got a lot to thank Messrs. Buckeridge for and Verne for. But, there’s a part of me which really enjoys a good historical yarn. Hence, I’m a bit of a ‘Sharpe’ fan and if I knew more about history, I might well have gone the Bernard Cornwell route with my writing.
I’ve just finished reading The French House by Nick Alexander which I enjoyed immensely and just before that I read Nicky Black’s, The Prodigal, which I also enjoyed, but for completely different reasons. As I was brought up in a tough area of inner city Liverpool, Nicky’s book struck a definite chord with me and painted a very accurate picture of life in a British inner city. Next on my ‘to read’ list is Farenheight 451 and just to vary the diet a bit, I fancy dipping into the Rosie Project by Graeme Simison.
Is writing your own books something you have always aspired to do and how hard/easy a journey has it been?
Whilst at school I loved creative writing and before going down the geography teacher route (thanks, Jules Verne) I actually flirted with the idea of becoming a journalist So, I think the desire to write something has always been there, lying dormant, but it wasn’t until I semi-retired from teaching that I had the time to rekindle that desire and my first book literally poured out of me. I just couldn’t stop the flow and it completely took over my life. I was thinking and talking about it non-stop and, looking back, must have driven my family mad during the six months it took to write. Things have not been so easy writing my second book, however. Probably because I have now learned that you are writing primarily for the reader, my latest book is deeper and much darker and is consequently taking much longer to craft – but I’m still driving my family up the wall by constantly talking about it. Some things will never change!
Is there one author in particular living or dead that you would really like to meet and why?
After Jules Verne, it has to be fellow Liverpudlian and also ex-teacher, Alan Bleasdale.
How many hours do you dedicate each day to writing and do you find it easy to switch off at the end of the day?
I’m an early riser and tend to find writing easiest at around 5 in the morning when the house is quiet and everyone else is still asleep. Walking the dog for several miles a day also helps when I hit a barren patch – usually by mid-morning. Can I turn off at the end of day? No, I go to sleep thinking about my book and it’s the first thing that enters my mind when I wake up. I think they call it obsessive, compulsive syndrome or something like that. How my family puts up with me, God only knows.
Lastly, what are you currently working on at the moment and can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m three-quarters of the way through my next book which has a working title of ‘Tunnel Vision’, but this may well change to ‘Fractured.’ This one’s more of a techno, rather than eco- thriller and has two parallel plots which converge in the book’s final third. The first plot involves a young journalist who is investigating a series of unexplained house fires and deaths in an isolated village in rural Kent and who receives a less than cordial reception from the locals when he arrives in the village -shades of the Wicker Man really. The second plot is focused on the refugee camp at Sangatte in northern France. Obviously I don’t want to give away how the two plots converge, but what I can say is that the reader will certainly think twice about how they travel to France for next year’s camping holiday!
Many thanks to Peter for a great Q&A, you can find out more about the author and his book on his Amazon page by clicking here.