Author Spotlight: Peter Cruikshank
Posted by Cat-Gerlach
Let us welcome Epic Fantasy author Peter Cruikshank who will be joining the ranks of IB bloggers this year. From now on, he’s one of us. 😉
I asked him a couple of questions so you can get to know him a little better:
Why did you become an author? Was it a childhood dream?
As a young teenager, I read incessantly. I would fly away into outer space or find myself on an alternate world. I don’t know if it was escapism, or if I was just looking for myself in these books. In my late teens, I wondered if I could create worlds of my own, like those that I read from my favorite authors. This led to a belief that I could take people away, into other worlds, and give them the joy and thrills I experienced over nearly fifty years. To tell of Good vs. Evil, of underdogs, of heroes, of wonders that would broaden a reader’s mind. And maybe, just maybe, they might get some message from my tale that might have some meaning to them. So not a childhood dream, but one I have kept for over forty years.
What’s your greatest obstacle in writing?
Patience. Patience. Patience. I lack patience in many things, though this is particularly true in my writing. I have all these ideas running around in my head, and I want to get them down on paper. Unfortunately, I also like larger than life, epic adventures. The combination of impatience and love of big books makes for a bad combination. I am constantly pushing to get things done and have to fight the frustration that comes with months upon months of writing to get the tale out. It is a constant battle to keep from forcing the story and making it less than it can be. But persist I must while taking deep breaths and remembering my yoga training.
What makes the world of your novel different from ours?
Interesting enough, there are similarities. The world of the Dragon-Called, called Saoghal [Soo-il], is based upon a medieval environment; however, looking over the maps it is obvious that it is not our world. Saoghal is steeped in magic, based upon a Spirit world that is overseen by the Goddess, the Burning Lady. The Spirit world and the world of men coexist alongside each other. The relationship of these two worlds provides a unique environment that does not exist in our world – at least not exactly the same way. And of course, there are elfs, dragons, the giant bear-like brown & gold stripped Borlender called Swift, the fierce Kata-henis, the vicious Blood Stalkers, and the lovable Waljantinks (Tinks) — enough things that make Saoghal different from our world.
What was the most exciting thing happening when you wrote your novel?
A lot of things were happening in my life during the writing of this novel. I had recently retired (though my wife says with my writing that I haven’t really retired yet). From a writing perspective, I came to learn how to construct a story. Actually, it is more about weaving a tale than constructing a story. I had spent over forty years attempting to tell a story and ended up with half a dozen unfinished stories. I met Holly Lisle and learned how to separate good ideas from bad and turn them into tales that others would want to read. And through her forums I met many encouraging writers who helped me to hone my craft. Why was this exciting? Because it made my forty-year old dreams come true.
Who is your favorite Indie author?
This one is tough, but I have read most of what Holly Lisle and Katharina Gerlach have written – and loved their tales. I also have enjoyed the Wardstone series by M. R. Mathias.
Who is your favorite traditionally published author?
Robert Heinlein, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis. I know I was supposed to pick one, but all three have shaped my writing and changed my life. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land made me a reader and opened my mind to the different. Tolkien brought me into the world of fantasy with Lord of the Rings. Lewis and Tolkien both taught me how to put meaning behind my words without shoving it into the reader’s face. All three showed me how to write fiction in a way that brings passion and entertainment to not only the reader, but for me as well.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
Too many options depending upon what part of my life you are talking about. Writing: I would have put the effort into writing at Thirty that I am now giving it. This would have given me an extra thirty years to hone my craft, and I would probably have several series already published. A more understanding husband, father, and friend – though I am not really bad, it is just that I could have been better (continuing to try to improve). I worried less about what people thought and more on how I saw myself. In reality, I probably would not want to change anything as all the experiences, good and bad, have made me the man I am today – and I am pretty happy with him.
What life experiences do you bring to your writing? How does it affect your writing?
I think subconsciously I patterned my life after Robert Heinlein. He was a gold miner, served in the U.S. Coast Guard, and a dozen other different professions. In my case, I served in the U.S. Air Force and have worked in the Public sector, as a civilian, for the U.S. Navy. I worked in a variety of Private sector positions, including a retail clothing store manager, ran my own small business and also worked as a Chief Scientist for an international Fortune 250 company. At different times, I was an adjunct professor and worked in the ministry field. There were times when I even spent time tossing pizzas, worked in a combination liquor store and crab house, then some time driving a taxi in Washington, D.C. This wide range of experiences has shown me that there are many different ways of looking at every situation and how all of them have value. My understanding of business and military operations, academia, and the effect of the spirit, has given me a unique insight that I hope I bring to my characters and the worlds I create.
Of course we’ll have to tell you a little about his book too:
Sixteen year old Princess Willoe is to be sent away in seclusion prior to a forced marriage bond, rather than fulfilling her dreams of competing in a man’s world. Her twin, the solemn Prince Rowyn, has his own problems, forced to take up the life of a man-at-arms instead of retreating into his books and a life of contemplation. The twins decide, with the help of their cousins Aeron and Casandra, to take one last chance to experience their dreams.
A plan that has potential if not for two things: Foreign priests of the Shin-il Way, who see the twins as necessary to their domination of the world, and the Burning Lady, goddess over the Spirit world, who requires that the twins fulfil a covenant that a distant ancestor of theirs had made with the king of the dragons.
The close family bond between the twins and their cousins can help them confront any danger, but the true test of this bond comes when the price of the covenant becomes clear.