Peter Gray was born in Toronto, Canada. He holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Education but has always felt the lure of classic English literature. Peter published his first story in 2020; a paranormal romance called “Cursed.” His first full length novel “The Tragic Tale of Teddy Woven” was released in the month of September 2020. As a self-published author, Peter specializes in the genres of Gothic horror, paranormal romance, and historical fiction. His first historical romance novel “Awakening” debuted in the month of March 2021; he plans to continue writing in this genre for his upcoming novels “At Peace” and “Far from Home” series which will premiere later this year.
It is my pleasure to welcome the author Peter Gray to this episode.
Me: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Peter Gray: Unfortunately, I cannot recall an exact time that I wanted to be a writer. I was always a daydreamer, ever since I was a little girl. As I grew older, I began to write these stories down on paper. They were short drabbles at first, but by the time I was in University they began to expand in scale. It is only recently that I decided to publish my stories under a male pen name and share it with the rest of the world. The accessibility of self-publishing through platforms like Amazon or Google Play was the main motivator for me to put my work out there.
Me: How long have you been writing?
Peter Gray: I have been writing all my life, it started with journal entries after school, and then poetry in my teenager years. Once I was in University, I stumbled into the wonderful world of fanfiction, and I think that is where I was able to explore writing stories in different genres. Being heavily immersed in the fanfiction world also allowed me to network with fellow artists and writers, so it gave me an opportunity to meet people that shared the same interests as me. It wasn’t until Covid-19 spread across the world and left my life at a standstill, that I sat down one day and took a serious look at all the stories I had written so far. This period of reflection gave me the confidence I needed to research the advantages of self-publishing, create a pen name, and eventually publishing my novels on Amazon.
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
Peter Gray: There were several motivations for me to write “Cursed.” It was Halloween season at the time, and I promised my friends that I would write a short horror story for them. I have always had this strange fascination with werewolves, so it was easy for me to pen “Cursed.” The story was originally a fanfiction, but I liked the storyline so much that I decided to change it up and publish the story on Amazon to reach a wider audience. I am aware that there are a lot of werewolf stories out there, but I believe “Cursed” is significantly different because it mixes elements of comedy and horror to give it a more light-hearted feel. I believe the classic 1981 film “An American Werewolf in London,” was another motivator for me to write this novel. I had the pleasure of watching it after I published “Cursed,” and it gave me some sense of pride to see that my book shared the same vibe as that insanely comedic eighties film.
Me: Are your characters created from scratch or are they based on people from your life?
Peter Gray: Thus far, all the characters that I have written have been created from scratch or vaguely inspired by other fictional characters. One of my future published works “At Peace,” is autobiographical in a way, which is both intimidating and unnerving for me. I believe that is the reason I have been repeatedly pushing back the dates so far, but I know for certain it will be published at the end of this year. This historical romance focusses on a budding romance between two teachers. A lot of the scenes in the first few chapters are a dim reflection of my own life, so it is an eerie experience to see my life suddenly penned upon a page. I think it is the best story that I have produced so far, probably because it correlates with that age old saying: “Write what you know.” I work in the education profession, so detailing the daily lives of a teacher’s duties and their classroom expectations was incredibly easy to do. This story is romantic and emotional evocative, and I believe it will be a favourite for many of my fans.
Me: What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Peter Gray: The hardest part of writing during a pandemic is finding a quiet, isolated place to work. I currently live at home with my family. Lately it has been difficult to find a place to write new stories or market my published works. This inconvenience has made me wake up in the early hours of the morning, in the hopes of writing a chapter or two. Afterwards, I go out for a long walk among nature to clear my mind and allow my creative thoughts to wander. It is through these tranquil-like moments that I generate more ideas for a story. When I return home, my mind is full to the brim with new ideas, and then I am off, typing at my keyboard like a madman. My work habits, however strange they might appear, have allowed me to produce multiple novels within a short period.
Me: What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book?
Peter Gray: I discovered that I like to integrate social justice issues into my novels. I never want to shy away from issues such as racism, environmental issues, or social injustice. A pen gives me a voice in the world, a vocal piece for me to fight for the rights of others.
The philosophical topic of existentialism heavily influenced the “Far from Home” book series. The main characters in these novella’s often question their religious beliefs in a time when the Protestant faith was sacred, and the church heavily aligned with the British Monarchy. We see a lot of philosophical questions that plague the character’s mind, such as: “Why am I here?” or “Where will I go when I die?” In this book series, vampires’ chips away at the once firmly held religious beliefs of the Reeds’ family. It is apparent that the sudden emergence of vampires, those demonic creatures that possess the power to live beyond the grave, have a significant advantage over those people that cherish the Enlightened period and refuse to believe in the fact that vampires are free to roam throughout London, England. When penning “Far from Home” I was heavily influenced by Bram Stocker’s “Dracula,” and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” novels, as well as John William Polidori “The Vampyre.” The book series, “Far from Home” starts off as a black noir, detective styled novella, but over the time the story evolves to focus on the tragically dark romances between the vampire, Aodhan McVeigh, and the woman he has chosen to be his lover.
Me: Who is your favourite author and why?
Peter Gray: An incredibly difficult question, but if I had to choose a single author it would be Charlotte Brontë. Her books influenced me in my late adolescence, and it helped me go through some difficult times in high school. Only when I entered University and began to study English literature, that I began to truly appreciate her writing style. There are a lot of similarities that I share with her life, such as writing under a male pseudonym or working in the education profession. When it was time to choose a pen name, I thought about all the female authors that influenced my life growing up and the hardships they faced to get their work published because they are a woman. It was the lives of the Brontë sisters during the nineteenth century that influenced me to write under a fictional male pen name, in the hopes of echoing the troubling time period for female authors because of their sex.
Me: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
Peter Gray: Edgar Allan Poe’s “Ligeia” and “The House of Usher” are two major influences for me when I decided to partake in the Gothic horror genre. I also absolutely adore dark romanticism literature! I love stories with an ill-fated heroine being preyed upon by a sinister villain; dark moors, haunted houses, vengeful ghosts, those are the things that continually spark my imagination. In terms of light literature, I am highly inspired by the Romanticism period and the famous poets that wrote about sublime scenery and landscapes in England, Italy, and other parts of Europe that had not succumbed to the wave of the Industrial revolution. Another writer that has influenced my writing style is the lyrical poet, John Keats. He is my hero! I worship the very ground he walks upon, and he is one of the main reasons I fell in love with poetry at an early age. Recently, I have been enjoying Gothic novels by Renee Ross, a fellow indie writer with a penchant for all things dark and maniacal. I would suggest “The Ghost of Emily Grey,” a short horror novel I binge read in two days. I could go on for days, of course, but those are the writers that have influenced me the most so far.
Me: What is the best piece of advice you received about writing?
Peter Gray: I don’t remember a time when anyone gave me writing advice. I am quite headstrong, incredibly so, and I think that is the reason I went into the self-publishing business instead of falling into the long line of writers waiting to be noticed by big publishing companies. The best piece of writing advice I saw online was by Charles Bukowski. He is so raw with his words, so much grit and frankness that he knocks the reader over with the truth. I find his life inspiring too, it was just a few months ago that I watched a documentary detailing his daily writing habits. It just proves that you have to live everyday like it’s your last and make no excuses when it comes to writing. Bukowski’s writing philosophy is seen in this quote, when he says: “There’s nothing to stop a man from writing unless that man stops himself. If a man truly desires to write, then he will.” As a writer we have a choice; we can settle and write down stories that society dictates as acceptable or popular at this time, or we can listen to our intuition and tell a story that is deeply meaningful to you. When I first started to write stories it was to cater to a certain audience, but now I am at the point in my life where I think “How much longer will I be here? What legacy am I going to leave in the world?” and it is those types of questions that makes me want to put my best work out there.
Me: What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Peter Gray: That’s an easy one! To write!!!
Me: If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Peter Gray: Bold, emphatic and a leader.
Me: Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
Peter Gray: Have a network of people that you can rely on. They can be fellow writers or people that know you intimately and will call you out if the story can be improved upon. Writing is a lonely process, but it does not always have to be that way. Social media allows me to connect with fellow writers and ask them for advice. I am still new here, and yes, I have published four novels in less than two years, but I am still learning the intricacies of this business. When you are an indie writer it is essential to get your name out there. The books won’t sell by themselves! It requires work, patience, and a little bit of luck. The best advice I can give to an aspiring writer is to network with fellow artists and believe in yourself.
Visit the author’s website https://www.gray-blog.com/
Me: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
Peter Gray: I am in the middle of rewriting “Far from Home: Book Two,” since it was penned over two years ago. My writing style has drastically changed, so I am basically rewriting the entire story from scratch. I want to add more foreshadowing this time, especially when it comes to the dark, twisted relationship between Aodhan McVeigh and the woman he cleverly seduced, the young Victoria Reeds. I believe the first edition had a lot of Hades and Persephone vibes to it, but their storyline begins to change, and the reader starts to see the consequences of their actions after Victoria abandons her home and turns into a blood-thirsty vampire.
My romance historical novel “At Peace” is completed, so it is currently waiting to be published in the winter of 2021. I am still debating whether I want to submit it to a publisher or take the normal route and self-publish online.
“Far from Home: Book Three” was completed two months ago, during a burly Canadian winter with lots of snow and extremely frigid temperatures. Book three is hands down my favourite, and I am extremely impatient when it comes to publishing it next year. This story will generate a wide array of reactions from the audience. “Far from Home: Book Three” deals with issues of human morality, our spirituality, possibilities of reincarnations, and existentialism themes, which will clash with a lot of people’s worldview. Aodhan McVeigh also becomes very desperate in the final adaption of this book, and I believe more dangerous than ever before, especially with the supernatural powers he possesses since he is a century old vampyre with a single-minded purpose to destroy anyone that stands in his way.
You can follow my page @petergray_writer to keep up-to-date on the progress for my projects!