When I was working on publishing my first book in 2015, someone told me to join some writing groups. I did some searching around on Facebook and saw one I found interesting. It is one of those groups you have to be accepted in to be a part of it. I read some of the feed and thought this one was pretty interesting. So, I asked to join. Just like that, I was introduced to the group. I was welcomed by the group instantly. I noticed there was a gentleman who consistently posted reviews of books like the one I was working on. It was Peter. After getting to know Peter better through his posts and his reviews of books (blog: Reviews by Peter), and email correspondence, I asked if he would take a look at my book. He did and posted his review. The link is listed here. Over the years he has given me sound advice and has become a good friend. That is why I wanted to share my friend with you.
Q: First off, could tell everyone where you live?
Peter: I currently live in Point Cook, a suburb west of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Q: Tell us a little bit about your younger life, family, and how that affected your choice of occupation.
Peter: I am the youngest of three with an older brother and sister. We all just happen to be exactly 16 months apart, pure fluke, not planned! My mother was a Registered Nurse and my father was a clerk with the Australian Post Office.
My parents had us, three children, later in their life. My mother was in her late 30s when my sister was born and I was purely a mistake on their part as my mother had actually started menopause! I grew up with my mother telling me stories about being a Nurse and also listening to her do the same with her Nursing friends. In Year 12, when I realized that Teaching was not what I wanted to do, I decided to give Nursing a try, seeing I grew up familiar with this. So I applied and started the following year. I was 19 years at the time.
Q: So, you were off to nursing school, a choice that not only led to your career choice, but to another life-changing event. Tell us about that.
Peter: After graduating 3 years later, I consolidated my nursing career for 2 years in the general wards of the hospital. After this, I branched out into a specialized area of Nursing. This dealt with the diseases of the eye, ear, nose, and throat [(Ophthalmology and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat)] as I loved these during training. My other passion for Nursing was working in the community, specifically in Occupational Health (Industry). To do this, I needed to have experience in Accident and Emergency. So I took a position in this department and it was here that I met my future wife, Debra. She was an Occupational Health Nurse (Nurses who work in Industry applying Health and safety from a Nursing POV to employees) and sent one of her injured employees to this department where I was working. She had a position available at the abattoir where she worked. I applied and was successful in my application. Nine months later we married! I continued working at the abattoir for a further nine months. I then moved to another industry (car manufacturing) then a petrochemical company before being retrenched from a downturn in this industry.
At this stage, we were expecting our first child and I needed a job. I was unable to return to Occupational Health Nursing as I did not have formal qualifications in this field (despite working in it!). I realized I needed a career change in Nursing. I accepted a position at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. I have been there ever since which adds up to 25 years now.
I am currently working in Medical Services department as a Clinical Nurse Consultant. Here I offer medical advice to blood donors concerning their edibility to donate from a medical perspective. I also offer staff health advice in relation to biological exposures (needle stick injuries, blood and body fluid exposures). My other responsibility is the vaccination against those diseases that staffs are at great risk of being exposed to in dealing with blood donation.
Q: You mentioned having a child. How many children do you have now?
Peter: Three years after our first daughter, Laura, was born, we had another daughter, Hannah. Now they are 25 and 22 years respectively. The eldest married in June and has now had her first child.
Q: Grandchild? Congratulations. I think we have found another interest and passion for you.
Peter: Now a grandfather!
Q: You pointed out your passion for nursing, but this is not your only passion.
Peter: In my childhood and adolescence I loved collecting coins and stamps. I have not continued this since leaving home but still have my collection. My other interest and which I am passionate about is reading. I was not brought up with a love of reading, but it was not discouraged either. How I discovered reading was due to a bullying episode when I was in Grade 3. After their abuse on many levels on that particular school morning, I retreated to the classroom to get away from these bullies. Here I came across a few other students who I knew briefly. They were reading novels when I arrived and we started talking. I asked them about the books they were reading and it was them who introduced me to author Enid Blyton. I was hooked! The Famous Five and The Secret Seven series were my favorites. Then I discovered the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. From this introduction to reading on that fateful morning, I have always had my head in a book. I even ran the bookstore at Church!
Q: I think that is one of the reasons you and I connect, our shared interests. I too collected coins and stamps, but it is our love of reading that caused our paths to cross. I too loved the Hardy Boys, but your love of reading sparked another passion, one for reviewing books on a grander scale. How did that happen?
Peter: I started writing reviews on and off when I discovered Christian fiction when I became a Christian at 19 years of age. My first novel in this genre was Dwellers by Roger Elwood (now out of print). This dealt with the Nephilim whom the Bible mentions in Genesis 6: 4. This was my first introduction to edgy, speculative fiction and I have sought this genre out since. It was this genre that led to my review blog. Steve Goodwin, a Christian author, suggested I start it after I had written a long, but comprehensive, review of his two edgy, speculative fiction novels. He believed that blogs like this would serve well in promoting this genre and in the process, Christian authors. He believed that Christian fiction in all its genres, and especially Christian authors, needed more promotion than secular authors. This has proven to be very true. Reviewers are the best promotion for an author and are their best asset! That is the most motivating reason I keep reviewing.
Q: As an avid reader and author, I would have to agree.
Peter: The other motivating reason is that I feel readers should write a review to show their appreciation of how well the author’s book has affected them. Were they only entertained? Did the author educate them on the subject matter as well? Was God glorified? Was their faith challenged, and relationship with God deepened? If there are any negatives, these can be fed back to the author in a positive manner to encourage the author so they can see what they need to do to improve their writing and novel construction.
Q: What other interests’ do you have, my friend?
Peter: My other interests are singing. I used to be the worship leader at church and have been involved in the Music Ministry since becoming a Christian. However, I am not involved anymore. Unfortunately, the side effects of asthma medication have affected my singing voice. I have lost my upper register (high notes) and some of my lower registers as well. I also love modern technology, gizmos, and gadgets.
Q: You have been at reviewing for some time now, any advice for would-be authors?
Peter: Be specific in your words, plots, characters, mean what you say and say what you mean. There is nothing worse that ambiguousness or lack of detail or information relating to various parts of the novel. It confuses the reader, detracts from their enjoyment and unfortunately gives the impression the author is not a good an author than the reader thought.
Don’t be afraid to show what you believe as far as Biblical topics or issues are concerned. Be bold in expressing your faith through the characters and plot arcs. You are writing for God so let Him have your creativity and talent to tell the story that He wants to tell. You have no idea how far God can use this to bless, uplift, encourage, challenge or draw the reader whether Christian to Him as part of His plan for their lives.
I have been blessed, uplifted, challenged and even chastised by what a Christian author has written in their novels. Unlike secular authors, your mandate is not only to entertain but to minister to the Christian reader through any biblical principles and expression of your faith in your novel and point the way to God to the reader who does not know God yet or encourage them to consider Him.
Never give up. When discouraged, go to God in prayer, asking for discernment, wisdom. Be Honest with Him and humble.
Seek out the advice and mentoring of other Christian authors. Accept their advice and counsel with a humble heart and a teachable spirit. You will be a better author because of it (and a better version of yourself as well!).
Be the same with the feedback from beta readers, reviewers and do not take it personally. Do not be hard on yourself when you feel that things are going pear-shaped or you feel like giving up. Us readers (and reviewers) do not want you to give up or accept second-rate authorship and novels! We want to sing your praises as an author and being an instrument of God.
Enjoy the story you are creating. It should not be a chore. You are creating a wonderful, unique world in your novel and all for His Glory and purposes. You have quite an honor and privilege to the conduit for God to minister to the reader in the fiction you are creating. Be proud of your work, but remember it is for His Glory and purposes you are writing. His instrument.
Q: Peter thanks for sharing a little bit about you with us. With your permission, I have listed two more interviews on other blogs and your URL link to your site as well.
Peter: My pleasure! That was fun! Thanks for the opportunity!
You learn more about Peter at the two links listed below as well as visit his website to get his take throuigh his reviews on what he calls “edgy” Christian books.
Interview by Christian Author/ Blogger Donovan M. Neal
Interview by Christian Author/ Blogger D.I. Telbat
Reviews by Peter