Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interviews With Authors: T.L. Peters

It's time for another spectacular Interviews With Authors!  Today I'm happy to introduce T.L. Peters, author of The Boy Who Loved Bach!  Thomas was kind enough to answer my questions on what it's like being a self-published author and how many of his experiences have influenced his writing.  Thank you so much T.L. Peters!  The Boy Who Loved Bach is a wonderful coming-of-age story about one boy's struggle to survive the pressures of high school, all while trying not to spread himself too thin.  This read will surely make you laugh along as Edward tries to figure out where he fits in and struggles to navigate the new world of high school.  You can find my full review of The Boy Who Loved Bach here.

Now here is, Interviews With Authors: A Talk With T.L. Peters!

A Talk With T.L. Peters

Author of The Boy Who Loved Bach

By T.B.

1) What gave you the idea for your young adult novel, The Boy Who Loved Bach?

I remember the incident precisely. It was two years ago almost to the day. I was sitting on the outdoor patio of Moe's Southwest Grill in a suburb of Pittsburgh enjoying a vegetarian nacho while watching a group of raucous high school kids out for an evening on the town, when it occurred to me to write a novel about a young man with a lot on his plate. As you noted in your excellent review of the book, like many young people the protagonist of the story, Edward, faced an array of competing pressures and demands on his time, and eventually he discovered that it was up to him to sort through them all and find for himself what was really important. That general theme allowed me to get inside Ed's skin, so to speak, and write the story, solely from his unique perspective, of how he went about meeting those challenges, while having some fun along the way too.

2) You’ve written countless books, both adult and young adult. Which book do you think was your favorite to write, and why?

My favorite to write was "Gracie and the Preacher." It's the story of young Brent Everett, a small town boy from a broken home, and of his feisty Rottweiler Gracie, who hook up with a good-natured but ethically challenged street preacher. The book is about their travels around America and beyond as they all struggle to find their place in the world. I enjoyed writing the story for three reasons. It was told from the perspective of a young boy, which for some reason comes naturally to me. Perhaps I never grew up. I've certainly heard that criticism expressed more than once from people I know. Second, I wrote the story from the first-person point of view. A first-person narrative seems to flow right out of my fingers and into the keyboard, as opposed to the third person which entails a lot more work for me. I must find it easier to "become the character" when I'm writing with "I" instead of with "he" or "she," if that makes any sense. And finally, I enjoyed the vibrant feeling of the story as the characters rapidly moved about the country from one offbeat experience to another. They were not tied down to one community or set of circumstances, and that was fun and allowed a more free flowing sort of narrative.

3) I’ve read that you used to be a lawyer, and now you write books. How is this different from your previous job?

They both involve writing, of course, but legal writing tends to be more formalistic than writing novels. A legal brief has a definite structure to which the lawyer must adhere, while a novel really has no rules other to be lively and entertaining. But I must say that lately, with the increasing economic pressures in the publishing business, many novels seem to be written from the mindset of a poll or focus group on what is popular right at the moment. I think that this drive toward conformity and commercialism and always searching for the next best seller is paradoxically one of the reasons the publishing business, at least for the traditional brick and mortal legacy publishers, is having such a hard time. Many readers really do want something original and thought- provoking, and the old line publishers, in my opinion, really aren't giving it to them. I think it's great, therefore, that there are now so many "indie" writers striking out on their own, and so many small publishers popping up too on the Internet. These e publishers won't all survive, but many of them will not only make it but also thrive because of their lower overhead costs and their insight into what works in digital media.

4) Did you use any of your own experiences of playing your Bluegrass fiddle in The Boy Who Loved Bach?

I wish I could say that I played Bluegrass well enough to have incorporated it's charming rhythms and riffs into the story. I do play classical music reasonably well and I love Bach, all of which provided me with some insight into the comforting quality music can have in the hectic life of an earnest young fellow like Edward P. Studt. It's not only the music by the way, but also the combination of physicality and mental concentration that it takes to play any musical instrument, in this case the violin. The sensation of your fingers tapping rhythmically off the strings while you breath in the rustic smell of the wood and listen to the close-up and urgent quality of the sound all contribute to an overall spiritual and psychological experience than can be both soothing and invigorating as well. I doubt if I could have communicated this through Ed if I had not played the violin.

5) Throughout The Boy Who Loved Bach, Edward felt very much like a teen. Did this come easily to you, or did you have to do anything special to write from the viewpoint of a teen?

As I mentioned above, it does seem to come easily to me. Apart from my apparent inability to grow up, which again has been pointed out to me on far too numerous occasions, I think it has something to do with the fact that I still live in the same house in which I grew up. Therefore, the sights and sounds and feelings and passions of my youth are perhaps more readily available and accessible to me than they might be if my living environment were different and thus cut off in some sense from my childhood experiences. For example, there is a row of hedges outside my bedroom window that has been there as long as I can remember, and when I look at it and really think hard I can see myself using the hedges as a center field fence when as a kid I played wiffle ball by myself out in the yard to while away a hot, lazy summer afternoon. Could I do that if I lived in a spanking new housing development in a different part of the country? Perhaps some people could, but I doubt that I would be able to generate the proper frame of mind to call up the memories as vividly as I would need in order to describe them properly to my readers. What do you think?

6) You sometimes write short stories every now and then. I’ve recently read one of your short stories called, "A Sweeter Rhythm.” How is it different writing short stories from novels?

In a good short story the writer needs to put as much of the story and the characters as he or she can into the first few lines. It's more than just formulating a good "hook." Other than for perhaps a plot twist or two at the end, there should be no real surprises or red herrings in a short story. After the first few sentences a reader should have enough information to write the story all by herself.

7) Can you tell us a little bit about why you decided to go the self-publishing route?

I have been writing novels for a number of years now, and every time after I completed a manuscript I would diligently send out queries to agents. Early on a prominent New York literary agent agreed to represent one of my novels, and after a few rewrites she sent it out to all the major New York publishing houses. While we received many compliments from the editors, there were no takers. Later I signed on with other agents, also prominent in the New York literary world, to represent other manuscripts I had written, but again no publishers bought the books. The general verdict seemed to be that while they enjoyed the stories and the writing and found the characters to be likeable, despite their flaws, they didn't feel that the books had sufficient commercial potential in today's market. So one afternoon as I was contemplating the rapid changes in the publishing business, I decided to upload a few of my works to online retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Smashwords. At first I was only going to publish a couple of books, but once I got started I couldn't seem to stop and uploaded all eleven of them. To that group I have recently added two more, "The Falling Ascent of Adrian Loft" and "An Ocracoke Affair."  Rather than spend money on graphic artists and consultants, I made my digital book covers myself and figured out how to reformat my manuscripts to meet the requirements of the various publishers. If you do a search of the name, T.L. Peters, in Amazon's kindle store or in Barnes & Noble's nook book store, you will see that my book covers come in three types. The deep harbor blue is for my legal thrillers, such as the best selling "A Pittsburgh Affair" and the quirky "Helpless in Paradise" and "What's Wrong Donny Speck?", the bright flowery design is for my coming-of-age adventure stories, such as "The Boy Who Loved Bach," "Gracie and the Preacher" and the first book I ever wrote many years ago, "A Puppy's Progress," and the covers featuring a stark desert landscape are for my more literary and in some cases experimental works, such as "The Accidental Lover," "Say Nuthin' Bad" and "The Falling Ascent of Adrian Loft." From a commercial standpoint, I suppose it makes more sense to confine one's writing to only one genre so that the reader knows what to expect.  But it seems to me that when a new story or group of characters pop into my head, these characters deserve their story to be told as honestly as possible. And just as people differ, their stories will differ too. In any event, because of the different book covers, my regular readers will instantly know the kind of novel it is and make their decisions accordingly. Another advantage of going the "indie" route is that the author can set the price. All my novels are currently priced at 99 cents. So give one a try over the summer and see what you think. While sales of some of my books have been somewhat sporadic to date, they seem to be picking up some momentum lately. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

I haven't totally gone the indie route though. Shortly, probably within the next few weeks, I have a novel coming out under the auspices of a new and fast growing e publisher based in San Francisco, Untreed Reads Publishing, http://www.untreedreads.com/. The novel is called "An Imperfect Miracle" and tells the story of a young boy from a small, rundown industrial town who on his way to school sees what he believes is a miracle and soon finds himself at the center of a raging controversy. I enjoyed writing this book almost as much as I did writing "Gracie and the Preacher." Because the publisher has the electronic rights to this book, he will design the cover and set the price. I've already reviewed the digital galley, so it shouldn't be long now before it's on sale.

8) What have been some of the challenges you have encountered, being a self-published author?

The main challenge is getting your name out there, or more accurately the names of your books. That's why book bloggers like you, Tessa, are so important in the current world of publishing. You are breaking down the old barriers and making it possible for new writers to present theirs works to an active reading public. I have received many reviews of my novels over the past month or so, both good and bad, and anyone can read them all in full on my blog, http://tlpeters.blogspot.com/.

The other problem is with editing. It's always nice to have a professional pair of eyes checking for typos and the like. But I work hard at editing, always going through dozens of drafts before I publish anything, so I'm fairly satisfied that my books are visually and esthetically pleasing, even though I can't guarantee that a pesky typo won't pop up occasionally. Yet I've also read classic novels from grand old publishers that had numerous errors in them, so what can you do? The best thing about self publishing though is that you don't have to wait a year or even longer from the time you finish the manuscript until you see it in on the digital bookshelf. For example, I just finished writing my latest novel, "An Ocracoke Affair," a rather dark and offbeat thriller set along the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on Friday and now on Sunday it is already for sale on Amazon and Smashwords and should be on sale at Barnes & Noble in a day or two.

9) Do you have any other books that you are currently working on right now?

As I mentioned, I've just finished "An Ocracoke Affair," and "An Imperfect Miracle" will be coming out in a few weeks. I think for my next project I would like to return to a coming-of-age adventure story with a grand narrative arc that is loaded with odd and engaging characters of contemporary relevance, but I haven't come up with a sturdy root yet out of which the rest of the novel will grow. I'm working on it though.

10) Lastly, what advice would you give to any young readers who someday wish to become recognized authors?

Think and live and be open to what's going on around you. Then try writing a short story or two. If you like it, or even if you don't, write another story or try your hand at a novel. In a few years the publishing business will be so different and open that you shouldn't encounter nearly as many obstacles in finding a devoted audience than writers have traditionally had. And once you write your short story, submit it to an online or print magazine for publication. There are hundreds of them around, and the experience will teach you a lot.

Lastly, as a general observation, short stories and novellas are quite popular on the net, since it is economically viable for authors to price them for as little as 99 cents (or even give them away) and technologically feasible for readers with a few minutes of free time on their hands to access and read the stories immediately. It may be that electronic and "idie" publishing will be the saviors of short form fiction.

Thank you, Tessa, for the wonderful and insightful questions and for giving me the opportunity to speak directly to your many readers.

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf...
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Thomas and provide such detailed answers!  That's so interesting that living in your childhood home helps you draw on experiences to use in your writing. Congratulations on your new book, An Imperfect Miracle, being published by Untreed Reads Publishing!  It sounds exciting!  I love your points for why you chose to self-publish your books.  It really has become a much more prominent aspect of publishing in the past couple of years.  I can't wait to see how much it will grow!  Again, thank you so much Thomas for being a part of Interviews With Authors!  That wraps up this interview, and I hope everyone enjoyed Interviews With Authors: A Talk With T.L. Peters!

You can find my full review of The Boy Who Loved Bach here.

The Boy Who Loved Bach is available from Amazon here.

T.L. Peters' short story, "A Sweeter Rhythm" is available from Amazon, for just 99 cents here.

Interested in more Interviews With Authors?  Check out my new Interviews With Authors page here, to find more exciting interviews!

Stay tuned for a special giveaway coming up soon!  You can have a chance to win either The Boy Who Loved Bach or Gracie and The Preacher!  Thank you T.L. Peters for making this possible!


  1. Wow - What an amazing interview! TB - Your questions were very good! You have definitely done your homework. TL - Your answers were so detailed and insightful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and life with us! I especially liked your comments on the publishing business, and the way you referred to "Indie" authors. As someone who enjoys discovering new music, I have loved exploring the independent music scene, and finding the gems that would never have made it in the traditional music business! I look forward to that same sense of discovery in the book world!

  2. Thanks, Tessa, for the wonderful interview. I especially liked how you interspersed my book covers and the Untreed Reads publishing logo throughout the interview. That is a nice touch! Continued good luck with your blog and your writing.

  3. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting on my blog! This is a fantastic interview, great job! I'm hoping to host my own author interviews soon. ~ Jen @ A Book and a Latte

  4. Wow, great interview, Tessa and Peter! I'm loving The Boy Who Loved Bach, and I think all your covers are gorgeous!
    Thanks for the interview! :)

  5. TB, you're interview was amazing. You definitely know how to ask the right questions. I find the whole e-publishing concept revolutionary and I applaud the authors who promote their books through it. Thank you for your further insight into the authors. I look forward to seeing more!

  6. Kevin- Thanks so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed the interview, and T.L. Peters did an amazing job answering my questions! Wow, that's so cool how you can relate with your music, and indie authors and musicians are definitely very similar.

    T.L. Peters- Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! I'm glad you liked the pictures! Thank you so much for providing a copy of one of your books for the giveaway as well. Thanks again!

    Jen @ A Book and a Latte- Thanks so much, and thank you for stopping by my blog! I can't wait to see you post your first author interview, and I'm sure it'll be fantastic :)

    TheBookAddictedGirl- I'm so glad you're enjoying The Boy Who Loved Bach so far! I can't wait to hear what you think of it! Oh, and I loved T.L. Peters' explanation for his different covers. So innovative!

    Tia- Thank you so much! I think indie authors and e-publishing are taking the world by storm and I can't wait to see where it goes. I definitely think it's going to become easier for authors to promote their own self-published books soon.

  7. Wow! This is so cool! Great interview!

  8. Wow. this is a good interview love it, do you ave a waiting list for authors cos i'd like to participate. here's my blog, http://theseven-piecestone.blogspot.com. A restraining order wont do you any good cos i am going to be following this blog from now on. nice job T

  9. TB- You do such a great job at interviewing. Maybe you should be a reporter! Such thorough questions and making sure they are answered. And Mr. Peters gave such detailed answers. Great interview, both of you!


  10. Zoe- Thanks so much, I'm glad you liked it!

    J.O Jones- Thank you so much, and thanks so much for following!

    Buried In Books- Awww, thanks! Funny you should say that actually, because I want to become a news anchor on Good Morning America when I'm older or a world news correspondent. This is definitely great practice :p

  11. i'm a new GFC follower! love your blog!
    hope you will stop by mine and follow me!!


  12. Thanks so much for following! I'm heading over to your blog right now!

  13. OMG!!! You have done an AMAZING job on the reviews. I am really impressed for someone so young! I am sure that you have inspired many people to keep reading and writing! I for one was not a big fan of reading... but thanks to your recommendations... I actually found out that I like to read! Thanks for everything!!!

  14. Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. I'm so, so glad that I could help you discover your love of reading! That's what this blog is all about, and if I'm able to help one person learn the joy of reading, then I've done my job :) I really hope you continue to read, and if you ever have a book suggestion for me, just let me know! I'd love to hear from you!

    Blogging at a young age can definitely be tough at times, but I've learned so much from it. The blogging community is so supportive as well, and this has been an experience that I will never forget! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me!

  15. I enjoyed reading your interview. Anyone who loves dogs and the violin certainly strikes a cord with me.
    You are right-on about traditional publishers. Maybe it's just a sign of the times but, in their efforts to conserve money and please readers with what they think they want, they have failed miserably. E-publishers allow authors to expand, grow and experiment.
    I was looking for something different to read when I cam across your latest story and decided to check you out. I like what you have to say about writing and music and I'm sure I will enjoy reading your story now that I know a little something about you and your perspective.
    I wish you much success in your writing career.

  16. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading T.L. Peters' interview! I'm sure you'll enjoy his story, and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  17. Thanks, Sarah, and I hope you enjoyed the story.


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