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Peter Ebsworth (english)

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Hello Peter, and thank you for your time. We usually start our interviews asking the author to introduce himself, talking about what he is, and what he does, when he has not his hands over the keyboard - writing. So, who's Peter Ebsworth in his everyday life?

As I am sure is the case for most writers, I do not get as much time on the keyboard as I would wish.

My employment as the manager of a fuel distribution business can sometimes mean working long hours, particularly during the winter months when the demand for heating oil is at its highest.

My home is deep in the Norfolk countryside and I have quite a large area of land that I have to tend, which includes a 100-tree apple orchard. This takes up a lot of my time particularly in the spring and summer.

So as you may have guessed, my writing needs to take place in the evenings or not at all.

I am married to the loveliest girl in the world. Her name is Julie and she is a nurse at our local County Hospital (the same as Jack Blackburn’s wife in my story Resolution 258) and my son is named Tom and he is a computer addict (again the same as Jack’s). My daughter, Becky, is now nearly 20 years old and lives in the City of Norwich, which is only about half an hour’s drive away from my home. So we see her often.

 

What about you're being in Mensa?

Joining Mensa was an ambition that I had harboured since my school days.

I went to a boarding school where we had children from all over the world. One classmate of mine was Columbian. One Sunday afternoon, in the school library, we talked about what our father’s did for a living. This boy’s father was an interpreter at the United Nations in New York. I was very impressed by this. But then my friend added ‘and he is also a member of International Mensa, the high I.Q. society.’ For some reason, I was even more impressed by the latter. That one day, perhaps, I could qualify to join this elite band became an ambition that stayed with me into my 20’s when I took the test and passed.

 

We (virtually) meet you on Distant Worlds (a very good website with scifi novels). Did your writing career start on the web? If so, can you tell us, where, and what suggested you to try your skills using this media? If not, how did you start publishing your texts?

It was because of Mensa that I started writing. This was only about 4 years ago. Our small regional magazine, The Eaglet, ran a writing competition for members, for stories no longer that 500 words. Quite why I decided to enter, I can no longer remember. But my story, The Last Goodbye, won the competition and this inspired me to write more. I then joined the British Mensa Creative Writers Group that publishes a monthly newsletter that features member’s work. I received some very positive feedback on my submissions, which in turn gave me more confidence in my writing.

After this initial start, everything else that has happened to my work has been as a result of contacts made over the Internet. This is a marvellous resource for any writer.

There are writing competitions to enter, web sites where you can post your stories and wait for feedback (e.g. Nicestories.com), e-zine publications that may accept your work, or at least advise why they have rejected it, as well as numerous print magazines and book anthologies, although these are far tougher to get into. Many of the ‘hard print’ publications will now accept email submissions which makes life much easier for the writer.

 

Can you highlight us with the most important steps in your life - as author?

The first step: I was lucky enough to win several writing competitions all in a row. One of these was the Athena Publishing Silver Sword Award for my story Almost Midnight. This gave me the confidence to approach other publishers.

The second step: was publication in two issues of Domicile Magazine in the United States. It’s a real buzz to see one of your stories in a magazine for the first time.

The third step: was when I submitted a story to Searle Publishing for inclusion in their anthology Creepy Tales by New Authors. The editor read my work then requested to read more. After some consideration he offered me a royalties contract for the publication of an anthology of just my own work. This was published in hardback and subsequently paperback under the title Dark Whispers.

Since then, I have been lucky enough to have work published in various magazines, anthologies and e-zines. But I have never had a story published as an e-book or had work translated into another language until now. I am very grateful to KULT Virtual Press for this opportunity and for providing the fourth important step in my life as an author.

 

Peeking around it seems that your main interests, as writer, are related to sci-fi and horror themes, is this correct? And if so, why did you decide to write about these subjects?

The themes in my stories are sometimes difficult to categorise. But it would be true to say that most would fall under the broad headings of Sci-Fi or Horror. However, there are no space ships or other planets in my Sci-Fi and very little ‘blood and gore’ in my Horror. Although I don’t believe that this distracts from an effective and enjoyable tale.

The reason that I primarily write within these genres is that they provide the most scope for exceptional events to take place within them. Exceptional events that can surprise and entertain the reader, as long as that reader is prepared to suspend his or her disbelief. Readers of Sci-Fi and Horror are prepared to allow the author to introduce the incredible, but this is not the case with most other themes.

 

Who are your literary models, I mean, your favourite writers. And what about your favourite books?

My favourite writers are Stephen King, Roald Dahl, Peter E. Hamilton, Isaac Asimov, Bill Bryson, J R R Tolkien and Timothy Ferris.

The best books by each are: ‘The Langoliers’ by Stephen King, ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ by Roald Dahl, ‘The Nights Dawn Trilogy’ by Peter E. Hamilton, ‘Robot Visions’ by Isaac Asimov, ‘Notes From A Small Island’ by Bill Bryson, ‘Lord of the Rings’ by J R R Tolkien and ‘The Whole Shebang’ by Timothy Ferris.

 

Talking about "Resolution 258" - how the base idea of this novel has born? Time travel, or time communication is a quite intriguing subject and your story points to some specific aspects of the latter - using e-mail as media...

‘Time’ is a fascinating subject.

Whether it is real or just our perception, whether all times exist at once or there is only ‘now,’ that fleeting moment as the future becomes the past. We know that it flows at different rates depending on the speed you travel and that it slows to eternity on the event horizon of a Black Hole. But does ‘now’ become any longer even then?

14 billion years ago Time did not exist at all. A photon of light may be visible within our reality but exists outside of Time.

When you think about ‘time travel’ the fictional possibilities and potential plot lines are almost endless. However, so many stories have been written involving physical time travel that I wanted to think of some other angle. Then I thought of email communication with the future and somehow that seemed a more realistic possibility. But how would someone actually know that they had discovered it at all? Would it be a benefit or a curse to human kind? Resolution 258 evolved from these thoughts.

 

How long did you take to write this novel? And when and why did you decide to write a longer version of it? In the ~11000 word-length version you added a lot of stuff, and I don't mean just descriptions or dialogs - you added a lot of "substance" in it. Why to invest time on an already written idea? Of course I'm sure readers will appreciate a lot this extra time you put on it :-)

The original story took about 3 weeks to write (evenings only). It came in at about 3500 words. At that length it was a very tight story and worked quite well, but I felt it left a lot unexplained. I think that this longer version is much more satisfying for the reader. Also, I wanted to bring Katie back for Margaret and George. Although in my vision of a changing future, memory cannot switch time-lines, I thought that perhaps emotions could.

 

What about the future - what are your main projects about being a writer?

My two main projects, at present, are co-authoring a screenplay based on my short story ‘Slasher Movie’ with Phil Mann, a scriptwriter in California and producing an anthology in conjunction with 14 American writers around the theme of a mysterious Key. The Key passes from story to story throughout the book.

 

How the life for a sci-fi author is in your country? I mean, in Italy few publishers deal with this kind of texts but I think that the attitude for this subjects, I think mainly 'cause of movies, are changing. What about England?

There are very few publishers in England that are interested in anything other than full-length novels on any theme. That is why the existence of the Internet is such a benefit for writers of shorter fiction as it provides so many more publishing opportunities.

 

Talking about "virtual" publishing - what do you think about e-books? and what about e-zine or web site that deals with literature?

In my opinion “virtual” publishing is opening up a whole new world of opportunity and choice for both authors and readers alike. However, I believe that for the foreseeable future full length-novels will remain vastly more popular in the form of conventional books than as e-books. This is because a reader of a full-length novel wants to get comfortable in an easy chair or take the book to bed with them or chuck it in the suitcase if they’re going away. Where e-books and e-zines succeed is in offering a massive selection of shorter works that can normally be read at a single sitting. Stephen King drew an analogy with meals. A novel is a seven-course banquet while the short story is a snack. I believe that e-zines and e-books will be become more and more popular but as ‘snack bars’ rather than ‘restaurants.’

 

Actually we (I mean KULT Virtual Press) don't sell e-books (nor we pay authors) for many reasons - but even big companies that try to do so usually don't gain very much - while they have no problems to sell real books. We heard that abroad (considering it from an italian point of view) e-books are more or less a "normal" alternative to a book and so it's common to buy them - is this sentence something that an English man can find real? What about the e-book situation in your country?

In my experience the number of people who would consider an e-book as an alternative to a real book is still very small in England. It may be different in the USA. Certainly, most American sites sell e-books rather than allowing readers to download for free. Maybe, the answer would be for the e-book provider to charge an annual membership fee (a fairly small charge but enough to make collecting it via credit card viable) but then all the e-books on the site are free.

 

Our standard way to close an interview with an author is to ask him for "secrets" - even if we know that there aren't - surely not to share :-). Anyway, have you got suggestions for one "young" author who wants to enter in "writing sci-fi" world?

The ‘secrets’ in my view are as follows:

1) Write stories for yourself. Create characters and situations that you find exciting or moving. Don’t try to write what you think others will expect because it will make your stories stilted and unoriginal.

2) Think of your first draft of a story as if you were a potter and your story was a lump of clay. Just get the general shape and leave the detail for later.

3) When a story is finished and you’re convinced that its as good as you’re ever going to get it, print it off, put it to one side then come back to it a week later. Then read it out loud (preferably not while driving) and you’ll be amazed the number of corrections and minor changes that you will find were needed.

4) If you get a good idea note it down. Always carry a little notepad and pen. A single concept or image in your mind can be enough to build a great story around. My short story Digital Soul, which appeared in the May ’04 issue of Ultraverse, was built entirely around the thought that if a man’s mind could be digitalised and transferred into a computer, would the download have a soul?

5) Don’t let rejections get you down. Appreciation of a good story is very subjective. If that particular editor doesn’t like it, so what?

6) On the other hand, think long and hard before dismissing any constructive criticism. It’s a rare and valuable commodity. If whosever giving it didn’t think you had talent, they wouldn’t be bothering.

 

Thank you very much - and every luck for your writing career - and we hope that your book published with us can give you something to be happy for
 
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:: Marco Giorgini
Marco Giorgini: (Modena, 21 Agosto 1971) responsabile del settore R&D in una delle più importanti software house italiane che si occupano di linguistica applicata. Dal 1994 coordina la rivista culturale KULT Underground (www.kultunderground.org) e dal 1996 la casa editrice virtuale KULT Virtual Press (www.kultvirtualpress.com); autore di racconti e sceneggiature, ha contribuito ad organizzare mostre e concorsi letterari, tra cui ''Il sogno di Holden'', 8KO- e In Xanadu. Da marzo 2005 realizza una striscia a fumetti bisettimanale sul mondo degli esordienti, chiamata Kurt (www.kurtcomics.com).
MAIL: marco@kultunderground.org
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