Peter Long

Peter Long

Q&A with Author Peter Long

What inspired you to be a writer?

I’m unsure of a particular inspiration, but raised in relative isolation, I enjoyed reading and the exposure to new ideas and had an artistic bent but few outlets. I also believed that many of the things I witnessed in the country were exciting, and that someone should record them. Initially, I ventured into poetry and was published as anon. After completion of an arts degree, I began to write under my own name and attempted short stories and finally, novels.

What prompted you to write 'Identity: Larry Cummins, Bushranger'?

I was prompted to write Identity when I learned my great grandfather had been a criminal and changed his name in mid 1800’s. When I read the amazing details of his life as a son of Irish immigrants and how his behaviour had impacted on the development of the NSW colony, I responded viscerally and wrote some spontaneous pieces as I channelled his account. Again, I chipped away at it to build a novel and gave myself permission to write it as my story, and as a non-traditional literary family, or domestic, tale, taking account also, of the women’s impact on the historical arc.

Do you have any more books in the pipeline?

I always have works in the pipeline. 

What is your professional background?

I’ve worked as a stockman, public servant, consultant, researcher and academic. As a Rotary Graduate Fellow, I studied in Canada and hold degrees from Queensland University and University of Toronto. 

Any advice you’d like to give aspiring writers?

I’m wary of offering advice, but here goes. 

  • Study your market. Choose topics and approaches that meet your career expectations of success. Do you aspire to make money; be a top seller? Then choose genres that have the most readers. Want to be a literary icon? Choose topics that will help you stand apart.

  • Study your craft. First, the micro-skills required to write well to communicate consistently. Second, the writing elements required to engage and transport your reader in the form and genre of your choosing. There is a plethora of books, courses, podcasts, coaches available to assist you. 

  • Practice to move your theoretical understanding to a refined competency. As a person who has read and critiqued thousands of graduate-level assignments, I can assure you experienced writers stand apart. Martin Gladwell suggests it requires ten thousand hours to achieve mastery in any field.

  • Employ professionals. Editors, coaches, marketers, publishers, beta readers, manuscript assessors, illustrators, and printers can assist you to progress your dream. 

Be aware there are exceptions to the rule/s.

Who/what inspires you?

I’m often inspired by the outsider, the voiceless, the off-stage, the contrary. Early in my writing career I was heavily inspired by the poets, including DH Lawrence, Bukowski, Wright. Today, I’m inspired by short-story writers, artists, photographers, history, and acquaintances’ life stories. 

What are your hobbies, interests and favourite books?

My interests are limited to morning walks, family, friends, and watching television. Favourite book? Voss by Patrick White.

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