Wednesday, November 6, 2013

10 Questions with SciFi Writer Peter Cawdron (@PeterCawdron)

This Author Spotlight
Science Fiction writer

Peter Cawdron

Author of
Little Green Men

This week's interview features Brisbane-based writer Peter Cawdron, author of seven novels, including his latest, Little Green Men. In addition to writing, Peter enjoys running in the forest, reading Winnie-the-Pooh or Dr. Seuss to his kids, and "looking up stuff on the internet and trying to wrap [his] head around it all…"

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

I’ve always loved the creative act of writing.

My first act of creative writing came about after being thrown out of my high school English class. I'd been talking too much. I was sent outside the classroom and told to write a two page apology to the teacher. Sitting there in the hallway with two friends also tasked with this humbling assignment, I could not bring myself to mindlessly write out, “I am sorry for talking in class” hundreds and hundreds of times. Instead, I wrote the screenplay for a best selling novel based on a true story, The Apology.

After the opening credits acknowledging the director, producer, and actors, etc, the main character (an oppressed orphan) apologizes for having an excited mind that wants to express itself at inappropriate times. After one brief paragraph, the closing credits begin to roll, noting the make-up assistants, camera crew, sound and lighting, boom operators, special effects, etc.

After the bell rang, the teacher stormed out to deal with her rowdy pupils. She glanced briefly at two of the apologies but spent some time lingering on the third. Slowly, her visage changed. The frown on her face turned into a smile, and that was it, I’d written my first best seller to an audience of one.

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

I like the challenge of articulating a concept in a manner that resonates for others, painting a picture in their minds. That’s a privilege and a challenge I thoroughly relish.

As for what I like least, well, that would be everything other than writing. Being a self-published author, I spend considerable time editing, reviewing, promoting, etc, everything other than writing.

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?

I just write. I use Apple Pages because there’s no tool bar, no side bar, no pop-up messages from other apps, no nothing. Just a blank page and a keyboard. Some authors suffer from writer’s block, but not me. The only think that blocks my writing is a lack of time to massage the keys.

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

I really like Philip K. Dick's short stories, Michael Crichton and Carl Sagan. They’re the three most influential writers on my novels. I try to learn from every book I read. As a writer, I want my best book to always be my next book.

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


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

Oh, I think some people can take the Oxford comma a bit too far at times. There are certainly occasions where it makes sense, but I’m not slavish about it as I think it's a judgement call and can sometimes be distracting.

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

LITTLE GREEN MEN is a tribute to Philip K. Dick, and has considerable outside-the-box thinking about the nature of alien life, focusing on just how different aliens could be to anything we expect. The challenge is how do you interact with a creature you barely recognize, let alone understand.

The ending to LITTLE GREEN MEN is edgy, but it makes a solid point. From evolution to relativity and quantum mechanics, if there’s one thing science has shown us over the past five hundred years, it’s that reality rarely matches our expectations, and neither does Little Green Men :)

8.What’s your current writing project?

This may sound strange for an established author, but I've just finished writing a fan-fiction novel called SHADOWS that's set in Hugh Howey's WOOL universe as part of the silo saga. Hugh's WOOL series has been phenomenally successful, and I've enjoyed following the story ever since WOOL was a single, stand-alone novella. I've thoroughly enjoyed exploring his fictional universe in my own way.

I’m now working on a tribute to Michael Crichton called DAMNED. It’s got aliens, time travel, all the things Michael would have loved to read about. DAMNED will be out before Christmas.

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

I’m currently reading Annalee Newitz’s SCATTER, ADAPT & REMEMBER, which is a lighthearted non-fiction book about how the human race can survive into the future. Given that 99.9% of the species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct, surviving into the future is not something we should take for granted, and Annalee provides some great insights in this regard.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

I’m inspired by science. I don’t think we realize just how much impact science has had on our lives. In the 1800s, quarter of the children born died before the age of one. If that translated to this day and age, how many of us would be alive right now? I think science has enriched our lives in so many ways, awakening our minds to the wonders of the universe, and I try to impart a little of that in a fictional setting to make learning enjoyable and entertaining.

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

Thank you for inviting me to be part of your blog.

You can learn more about Peter Cawdron’s novels at

You're welcome, Peter. Thank you for sharing!

Be sure to visit Peter's website, where you can read about all things Science Fictiony. And pick up a copy of Little Green Men now. Link below.