Interview with Suspense Author Peter Abrahams

By: Jennifer Minar

Peter Abrahams is the author of thirteen novels, including "The Tutor," (Ballantine Books) "A Perfect Crime," (Ballantine Books), "The Fan" (Fawcett Books), and most recently, "Their Wildest Dreams" (Ballantine Books).

Known for his sharp wit and incredible gift for keeping readers on the edge of their seats, Abrahams has been entertaining readers for more than two decades--spinning multi-layered tales involving ordinary people who find themselves in horrific situations. Nominated for the Edgar Award, and known for his memorable, unique characters, colorful writing style, and non-stop suspense, Peter Abrahams seems to have it all--even the praise of horror author Stephen King.

Here is what he had to tell Writer's Break.

THE INTERVIEW

WB: What formal training did you have before becoming an author?

Peter: I had little formal training. My mother--who wrote television drama--taught me a lot about writing when I was very young. For example--don't use linking words between sentences (however, nevertheless, etc.), but use linked ideas, mood, rhythm.

WB: What's a typical writing day like for you?

Peter: Typical writing day--I drive my daughter to school, hit the gym, then breakfast and finally the office, where I work from about 10 to 5. Late in a book I sometimes do more after dinner.

WB: How long does it typically take for you to complete a novel?

Peter: The actual writing of a book takes me 5-6 months if everything is going well.

I wouldn't call myself fast, just steady.

WB: What inspired you to write your latest novel, “Their Wildest Dreams"?

Peter: I don't know if inspired is the word. I've often got little ideas drifting around in my mind. In the case of "THEIR WILDEST DREAMS," I was thinking a struggling woman and a Russian immigrant and a heist gone bad. Then, on Don Imus's radio show, I heard Delbert McClinton singing a song called When Rita Leaves. Most of the story--Mackie, the southwest, the dude ranch, Buckaroo's--came to me in the next five minutes.

WB: How did you decide to become a full-time novelist? What were you doing before?

Peter: The short answer is that I finally started doing what I was designed to do. The long answer isn't that interesting. Earlier, I worked in radio. Before that, I was a spearfisherman in the Bahamas.

WB: What would you say is the “best" and “worst" aspects to this job?

Peter: The best is that hard-to-describe pleasure that comes with making something out of nothing. The worst? A toss-up between the business aspects and the solitary nature of the job.

WB: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Peter: Lots of dead favorites, and a few living ones, including Stephen King and Saul Bellow.

WB: What can fans expect from you next?

Peter: My next book, "OBLIVION," comes out next year. It's my first detective novel. I think I can safely say that the detective, Nick Petrov, faces challenges unlike any previous fictional detective. I'm also involved in another new thing for me--a young adult mystery series that I'm really excited about.

WB: Do you do a lot of research for your books?

Peter: Research--it depends what you mean. A lot of it just comes from living. But as for all the little facts, I do what I have to to get them right. I visit places I write about--some, like southern Arizona in "Their Wildest Dreams," have a deep effect on me.

WB: What would you like to do if you weren't a novelist?

Peter: If I wasn't a novelist, I'd like to be a musician.

WB: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Peter: My advice to writers, at least those of the narrative kind: Don't watch TV. There's nothing for you there.

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