21 November 2011

Book Savvy Spotlight on Peter Hodgson

Bringing you exclusive interviews with authors featured in the Book Savvy Newsletter.
Our Guest is Peter Hodgson*
Enjoy the interview.

Q1. Can you tell us about yourself and your book 'Jack the Ripper-Through the Mists of Time'?
My Ripper book reflects a lifelong interest in the puzzle of the Ripper's identity. Since my days as a teenager I have been interested in true crime. It started after I read the Sherlock Holmes stories. If I could have my time back I would have joined the police force. The urge to solve crimes is embedded in my desire to write crime fiction. The real-life crimes of Jack the Ripper have been converted into films and fictional writings, and my book shows how the reality of those ghastly murders have been used by the entertainment industry. I have undertaken much research to make the book as accurate as possible. It is, I hope, a valuable contribution to a modern cultural myth. I would like to add that my son, Stuart, has created pencil portraits of some of the victims. I hope this will bestow a sense of dignity to those ladies who, after all, were no better or worse than their West End counterparts.

Q2. When you write what emotion do you seek to evoke in your readers?
With fictional writing I try to evoke a sense of attachment to the central characters by giving them their own personalities. Of course, if it's a crime novel the mystery of 'whodunnit' and why has to be the driving force. I try to keep the reader guessing, and hope that he or she will want to carry on till the end.

Q3. Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. When I was at secondary school I wanted to be a journalist but this desire changed after learning that this vocation would involve politics - so I was told. However, I wrote ten short stories during my teenage years, then the writing dwindled when my studies consumed all my time.

Q4. What are your favourite aspects of writing? And the most challenging?
Once the characters are created, I like to create conflict. This gives me a real buzz and I'm sure this aspect is a part of what writing is all about. From my point of view writing a crime fiction novel becomes very challenging half way through. At this stage you have to be acutely aware of what's happened, and what comes next. You have to be sure the jigsaw fits together, and this part involves tremendous concentration.

Q5. How do you plan a novel? Do you plot the story or do you just get an idea and run with it?
An idea will come to mind. Then I create the characters, time and place. I work out what the ending will be. For me, travelling to a town or village may give me an ideal setting in which to base the story. For my novel, Critical Murder, I used Kendal in Cumbria. I find that as I write the ideas start to flow. When that happens I write them down and work out which ones can best be used.

Q6. What are your interests when you are not writing?
I take my lovely Labrador for walks, and spend time with my family. Reading and watching films/documentaries takes up some of my spare time, which I don't have much of because of my full-time job.

Q7. What steps have you taken to market your books?
Well now, with regard to 'Jack the Ripper' I've done one book signing at Blackpool Waterstone's in September. This was a great success with all the books I took being sold-out. (I'm doing another book signing at Waterstone's Blackpool in December.) I have contacted the local newspaper for a write-up. I've had posters made which I give to family, friends and work colleagues. My barber also has posters (and a copy of the book). Copies of my book were sent to a true crime bookseller in London and to the Fortean Times book review.

Q8. If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you've used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
The most effective tool, in my case, lies in the title of the book. There is much interest in the Ripper murders. People are hungry for Jack the Ripper books and will seek new publications; so I'm fortunate in this respect.

Q9. Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?
I prefer 'hands-on' marketing: posters, newspaper interviews, signings, booksellers.

Q10. What is your target audience for this book?
I suppose it has to be readers of mystery, true-crime, and particularly crime historians and so-called Ripperologists.

Q11. You have a fascination for true crime and particularly the Ripper mystery; why is this?
As with most people, I have a strong sense of justice. I'm sure this interest for 'catching the criminal' goes back to my early years when I started reading the Sherlock stories. I bought my first Ripper book when I was fifteen. I was intrigued by the mystery of his identity, and why he committed those dreadful murders. The reason why people commit rape and murder - along with the use of offender profiling to help focus an investigation - has, over many years, developed into a fascination.

Q12. What kind of reactions and reviews have you received about your book?
My family and friends have expressed their admiration. I spent six years researching and writing it. Pneuma Springs have produced an exceptionally good cover, and this has been remarked on. At this point in time I have not read any reviews, but copies have been sent to the editors of 'Ripperana' and 'Ripperologist.' Fingers crossed for good reviews.

Q13. Are you concerned about the effect of e-publishing on traditional books?
I think e-publishing has its place, but if there comes a time when all books are published this way, then, for me, it would be time to quit. An author likes to see and 'feel' his or her work. Wouldn't you agree?

Q14. You have written a thriller, a book of true crime... what next?
I have a crime thriller that is half-written, and ideas for further novels. I'm not sure what the next move will be but I don't think my pen will rest for too long.

Q15. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Hone your talent and believe in your ability. Someone, somewhere, will eventually produce a best-selling novel. That person could be you . . .

Thank you for your time. We wish you every success in your writing career.


*Peter Hodgson's interests include true crime, criminal profiling, the paranormal, science, philosophy and wild flowers. He is married and has three adult children.
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* Book Savvy is an e-newsletter of Pneuma Springs Publishing, featuring news and information about all published books and new releases with highlights about the authors behind the books. Look out also for helpful resources e.g. blogs, book reviews and of course, discounts, special offers etc.