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An Interview with Peter Greenwood, Author of This Old House


Half Lancashire, half Yorkshire, and born on a farm in Somerset, I was raised on a farm in Shropshire, lived and worked on Merseyside and elsewhere, and currently reside in Wigan, Lancs. A writer and storyteller since childhood, I am a member of the Tyldesley Creative Writers (TCW) near where I live. A world-class procrastinator, I have only half-heartedly tried to get published. Several friends at TCW have self-published, and I admire them for it. I’ve also enjoyed reading their books. It’s high time I committed to publishing my own stuff!

Oh, and I won an “Oscar” in a TCW group writing competition recently!

What inspired you to start writing this book?

It started as a short story, featuring characters coming together by chance, squatting in an abandoned Victorian terraced house, trying to make a life for themselves. One of them is, of course, a budding writer. The house itself seems to affect those living there. It eventually dawned on me that the house formed the core of the stories around which these lives were based. Hence the title.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The title was obvious once I realised how central the house itself was to the well-being and successes of the folk dwelling there, but it took time to dawn on me! I have been writing the various stories for over a year, so far.

Describe your dream book cover.

A view of a Victorian, three-storey, end-of-terrace house, possibly with an unsuitable later addition of a garage at the side. Of the many original chimney-pots on the roof, one will be missing. There could be a couple in the doorway: he is a big, brawny guy, being berated by a tiny slip of a young woman. The front area of the house, not huge but adequate, is clean and tidy.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

“This Ole House” by Stuart Hamblen springs to mind. Or the version by Shakin’ Stevens.

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

Re-reading Gervase Phinn’s books on the Little Village School theme. Also re-reading some of Terry Pratchett’s fantasy/science fiction output. I have been researching Victorian architecture and the lifestyles of that era as background to the house itself. I usually have two or three books on the go at one time. The local library is a wonderful resource!

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I started life as a mechanical engineering apprentice at Ford Motor Co in Dagenham, but became disenchanted with factory life. As a country boy, I missed the daylight and open air. I swapped to civil engineering, worked in tunnelling (!) for a time, then in the broader scope of civil engineering, I have worked all over the UK on various contracts. I can drive bulldozers and excavators.

And photography is a major hobby.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I think the biggest influence was Mum. She came from a working-class background, pulled herself up by her own bootstraps, and was very keen on education for myself and my sister. Reading and writing were important to her, and she instilled a love of the English language in both of us, going so far as to set spelling bees for us—anything to help us improve. From that beginning I discovered a liking for various genres: Dennis Wheatley, Leslie Charteris (the Saint was my boyhood hero), Isaac Asimov, and many others. I used to make up bedtime stories for my sister (we had adjoining rooms), and eventually started writing these down. Long lost, I’m afraid.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I wish I had a study with a view of a glorious landscape outside the picture window. I actually bury myself in my cubbyhole with my computer. I can more or less keep up with my imagination on a keyboard. I can almost keep up using pen and paper, but my handwriting is, and always has been, appalling, which makes it very difficult to transcribe later on!

Do you have any writing rituals?

No is the short answer. I am totally non-superstitious. I don’t need fixed rituals to get me in the mood. My problem, as my partner will testify, is getting me to stop writing and “do something useful.”

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

The pleasure and satisfaction of having enjoyed a well-crafted, believable story. This is what I appreciate in my own reading—I hope I can deliver something similar to my readers.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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