Wednesday, August 7, 2013

10 Questions with Writer Shane Peacock (@Shane_Author)

This Author Spotlight

Shane Peacock

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I'm pleased to welcome a talented and internationally-acclaimed writer for this week's interview: Shane Peacock.

Shane Peacock is a novelist, playwright, journalist, and television screenwriter. His first book was a biography of the spectacular Canadian personality, “The Great Farini,”; his plays have been produced by the acclaimed 4th Line Theatre; his documentaries have included “Team Spirit,” aired on the CTV national network, and among his novels is “Last Message,” a contribution to the groundbreaking “Seven” series for young readers. His best-selling series for Young Adults, “The Boy Sherlock Holmes,” has been published in ten countries in twelve languages and has found its way onto more than fifty shortlists. It won the prestigious Violet Downey Award, The Arthur Ellis Award for crime fiction, the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Award, and The Libris Award, has three times been nominated for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, and each novel in the series was named a Junior Library Guild of America Premier Selection.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I often tell audiences that I became a writer because I didn’t want to have a job. I’m mostly kidding when I say that, of course, since I’ve learned over the years that writing is a very hard job, but in some ways I am telling the truth. Writing isn’t a job like a lawyer’s or a teacher’s or most any other. What writers do, or at least what I try to do when I write, is to tell the truth about life as I see it. I live my life, explore life in general, and then create stories that address what I think that life is all about. Also, when I was young I was desperate to have my say. Maybe it was the middle child thing! Writing gives me a voice.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

I like the period when I am being the most creative, which is usually when an idea is coming to me and I am beginning to develop it in my head. You can feel the characters coming alive, the story evolving, the subtext saying something, and when it is working, all of those things are coming together and it all feels kind of magical.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

My writing process has changed over the years. I used to simply start with what I felt was an exciting and meaningful idea and begin to write. I’d let the story work itself out as I wrote it, only sticking to the story’s meaning and the basic plot line. I seldom knew what was going to happen at the end. Then, a few books into my career, I was offered a very nice four-book contract. But the publisher needed to know a great deal about each novel before they signed off. So, I developed each story fairly thoroughly and went from there. That seemed to work even better than my earlier, less structured approach. Now, I use a hybrid. I like to develop my novels in some detail ahead of time but always leave myself open to sharp turns and twists, sudden changes in the story’s plan. I believe that if your story is too pre-meditated, your reader will sense that. I often say to young writers that the most important person to surprise in a novel is not the reader, but yourself. So, make your characters and your story come alive and see where it takes you, within the general plan of your novel.

I write pretty well every day of the week, the month and the year! I don’t usually have a word or page count, but when a deadline is looming, I sometimes have to force myself onto a strict schedule of daily accomplishment.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

I tend to like the biggies, the really biggies. My favorite writers, without question, are Dickens and Shakespeare. You just can’t beat them. Melville also had a great influence on me in school, as did Faulkner, though over the years, I’ve had some more unusual favorites, like Nathaniel West. Yes, I like the old guys! In terms of slightly more current authors, I’m a big John Irving fan, must be the Dickens in me!

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

I’m an inside guy on that one.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I’m for it! I’m for all sorts of, commas, everywhere! I use them with reckless abandon. It’s probably the control freak in me. I love to read out loud, from both my work and others. I like to create the right rhythm in my work and find the proper one in others. I re-read my work constantly as I’m writing it, re-reading great sections every day before I begin, building up to the moment when I start in again. It just HAS to sound right, and commas help to get you there.

7.What is your book about and how did it come to fruition?

My latest novel is the last one in the Becoming Holmes: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Final Case. The thing about writing about Holmes as a youth is that everyone knows what happens to him – he grows up to be the legendary detective. So, everyone knows what happens! And so, I had to create some real surprises in my final Boy Sherlock book. I think I accomplished that. The moment when the villain is identified, for example, is pretty shocking. This last book is pretty dark, but I think that’s fitting since Sherlock Holmes is a rather dark character and I didn’t want to make him shallow or a caricature in any way. I wanted him to be THE guy, very real and gritty, working his magic in the dark world of Victorian London.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I have two. One is the sequel to “Last Message,” which was my contribution to the groundbreaking “Seven, the Series,” from Orca Books. This series is a group of seven novels written by seven different, acclaimed authors, all dealing with a grandfather who, in his will, asked his seven grandsons to complete his bucket list, sending them off on seven daring adventures. My sequel has a kind of James Bond feel to it. That novel will be out in the fall of 2014.

My other project is the first in a trilogy for Tundra Books … and I can’t say too much about it, other than that it is set in very late Victorian England and the bleak moors of Scotland, and has a sort of horror story feel to it, a kind of Wilkie Collins, Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker kind of thing to it! Wow, sounds good!

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am on an Edgar Allan Poe kick and I’m just finishing reading his biography and entire oeuvre. Amazing stuff! What an incredible imagination, perhaps unmatched. I can’t believe, re-reading these works, how much Conan Doyle stole from him in his creation of Sherlock Holmes. Poe wasn’t just a horror story writer either – he was a great poet and one of the first and most important literary critics in history. Few writers have been so accomplished in all three categories of prose, poetry and criticism. And, man, what a spooky death, awfully fitting, I must say.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

My father used to tell me frequent bedtime stories and I only now realize how they lit me up. I learned to absolutely love stories. That’s at the core of my love of writing. Stories. We all love stories, every last one of us. If you are a human being, you love them. I think, also, we all want our lives to be stories, to have narrative, and we transfer that into our fascination with the stories of others’ lives, real or fictional. I also believe fervently in the importance of the imagination. It is what powers life.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

First of all, thanks for featuring me. Much appreciated.

People should be able to buy my novels at any reputable bookstore in North America, and in many other countries around the world, since the Boy Sherlock Holmes series is published in 12 languages in 10 countries and counting. They can also be ordered online just about everywhere on Amazon, and in Canada, where I live, on

Look for the new series from Tundra next year, and the sequel to my novel in “Seven, The Series.”
You can check out my work and activities at my website at:

I’m on Facebook too, and Twitter at Shane Peacock @Shane_Author

Thanks, Shane. Great to see your books are being enjoyed by people around the world. Best of luck on the two new projects.

Be sure to grab a copy of Becoming Holmes: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Final Case, check out Shane's website, and follow him on Twitter to stay up to date with his writing. And grab a copy of his book via the link below!

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