From bookseller to Bestseller, an interview with author Peter Foote

First Comics News: Thanks Peter Foote for doing this for us. If you don’t mind can you please tell us a little about yourself. Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

Peter Foote: I was born and raised in the Annapolis Valley of beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada. I was lucky enough to have gotten older (not sure if I ever grew up) on the family apple farm and lived in the same house as my ancestors did from the late 1800s.

1st: Who are some of your creative influences?

Peter: Well that’s a complicated question… Let’s see. I’ve always found the cover art of Luis Royo and Boris Vallejo and his partner Julie Bell have fired up my imagination, a lot of times it was their cover art that made me buy a novel when I was a teen. As too author influences, some of the ones that spring to mind are Julie Czerneda, Terry Brooks, John Scalzi, Robert E. Howard, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman.

Robert E. Howard

1st: Peter is there any work that stands out to you in the industry?

Peter: I’m a simple man and don’t claim to be an intellectual or expert on literature. My interests run along Sci-fi and Fantasy so when someone asks me where a good place to start either genre, I point them towards “Dragonlance: Chronicles” for fantasy, and “Old Man’s War” for sci-fi.

1st: What are you reading, watching on T.V. For entertainment?

Peter: My reading has taken a bit of a hit over the summer, only so many hours in the day, so I’ve been focusing on regional authors. The last book I read was an anthology called “Unlocking the Magic” which dealt with mental illness with a fantastical bend to them, my friend Jennifer Shelby had a wonderful story in the collection.

1st: What made you want to be a writer?  How long have you been writing for?

Peter: My writing spawned out of designing countless Dungeons & Dragons role-playing adventures when a teen that never got played, so in the late 1990’s I tried turning them in short stories and they were just terrible! lol

Things changed for me in 2015. I had just ended a seven-year toxic relationship and found that I didn’t have anyone close to talk about my feelings, thankfully I went to Hal-con that year and bumped into Matthew LeDrew and Ellen Curtis from Engen Books. As a huge reader, I always stop to chat with regional authors and publishers when I get a chance, and Matt mentioned that they (Engen Books) were getting ready to create an anthology using local talent and encouraged me to submit. So I channeled my emotions from that break-up, created a tale of an isolated ranger, and a she-wolf who can take human form for three nights a month and “The Silence between Moons” became my first sale.

1st: Peter, you are a  best selling speculative writer.  You have written for Engen Books and Black Hare Press to name a few. Who else have you written for?

Peter: Like you have mentioned the lion’s share of my output has gone to Engen Books of Newfoundland, and Black Hare Press of Australia, but I’ve also written for Schreyer Ink (now defunct), Polar Borealis (Canada), and Itty Bitty Writing Space (USA).

1st: You have contributed to many of Engen Books amazing anthologies: Chiller from the Rock, Flights from the Rock, Sci-Fi from the Rock to name a few. What can you tell the readers about Engen Books anthologies?

Peter: *Polishes knuckles on chest…

I’m lucky enough to be one of three authors who has made it into all five of the “From the Rock” anthologies from Engen Books. The wonderful thing about these anthologies is that each is a themed anthology (fantasy, dystopian, horror/suspense, etc…) so the readers know what flavour of stories they will be reading when they pick up one of these collections. The other wonderful thing about the staff behind Engen Books is that they are dedicated to helping regional authors find their voice.

1st: Many of these books were bestsellers. How does it feel to be a bestselling author?

Peter: I admit the first time it happened I was really excited and couldn’t wait to tell my friends and family, who smiled weakly and said “that’s nice” ;). Since then, I’ve learned that becoming a “Bestseller” on Amazon can be easy if you know how to use the system, and it’s sales and reviews that can mean the most, so make sure to leave a review, people!

1st: If a fan is interested in getting a copy or multiple copies of these books, where are they available?

Peter: I know for a fact that each of the “From the Rock” anthologies are available through Amazon, and I have copies of each for sale through my author page: Peter J. Foote – Author (shop)

1st: Peter you won the inaugural Engen Books/Kit Sora/flash fiction contest with your amazing story

“Sea Monkeys”. What can you tell your fans about that experience?

Peter: That will be something that sticks with me for a long time. Up until this point, all my writing had been short stories over 5000 words, and I was excited to try my hand at something different. With a 250 word limit, I thought this would be easy, sadly my first draft was almost a thousand words *facepalm.

I’m blessed with a patient and talented critique buddy, who pointed out the strong parts of my draft and what wasn’t needed. It took 4 versions, but I was able to whittle it down to the 250-word limit.

Writing flash fiction has become a passion of mine since that point, focusing on a core emotion, experience or conflict and shedding all the unnecessary “fluff” can be an excellent exercise for authors of all skill and ability.

1st: Please explain to the readers what is  Kit Sora Flash Fiction and how can they get involved if interested?

Peter: That’s an easy one. The Kit Sora/Engen Books Flash Fiction/Flash Photography is a monthly challenge from Engen Books in which authors are supplied a breathtaking photo from the amazing Kit Sora given a 250-word limit and told to create the best story they can create. If you’re a Patreon supporter of Engen Books you are allowed to submit extra stories in each contest. The contests are proudly sponsored by Fictionfirst Used Books.

1st: All the flash fictions have been compiled in a beautiful hardcover Book called  Kit Sora Artobiography from Engen Books. Where are they available?

Peter: I was lucky enough to grab copies when the book was first launched and gifted them to friends and family last holiday season, but I do know it can be found on Amazon.

1st: Peter, you also write Drabbles for Black Hare Press.  Could you please explain what a Drabble is? Could you please tell your fans about your works and where they are available?

Peter: A Drabble is just one kind of flash fiction, a story (beginning/middle/end) all told in 100 words exactly.

I started submitting drabbles to Black Hare Press because I was struggling to produce any longer works in the busy summer season, and I could putter at these on my breaks while at my “real life” job. As with Engen’s “From the Rock” series, each of the “Dark Drabbles” anthologies has a theme (outer space, monsters, angels, etc…). Thus far, I’ve sneaked in at least one drabble into each of these collections, and have short stories in two of their other collections “Eerie Christmas” and “Storming Area 51”. They all can be found on Amazon.

1st: You are also a winner of the Awkward Author contest, what was that like? Any advice and links for future awkward authors?

Peter: LOL, this one was done on a dare. One of the many hats I wear is that of a Freemason, and that usually requires formal attire. One day as I was waiting for my relief at my “real life” job as a Power Engineer, I sent a selfie to my fiance of me looking confused in a tuxedo in the boiler room. As such things are wont to do, the photo made its way onto Facebook and a friend encouraged me to submit it to Chuck Wendig’s “Awkward Author Contest” and it won! I had the privilege of meeting Chuck and getting him to said the photo which now honours the wall in my writing nook.

As for advice, I’ll direct your readers to this blog post I was asked to submit for “No Wasted Ink”  where I talk about using what YOU know and putting it into your writing.

My best (and favourite) advice to an author, it to get yourself a critique buddy, that trusted person who can honestly say what works and doesn’t work with your story. So much of our stories are trapped in our heads when we write, that not everything we mean to put on the page ends up there, a second set of eyes will catch this more often than not.

Since I have no formal training when it comes to writing, I struggle with the mechanics of the craft and have made liberal use of and, the free versions are more helpful than you might think.

1st: Peter you are the founder of a group called Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada. This group has been very helpful to me and others. I want to thank you for that. What can you tell us about G.W.A.C. Group, how has it helped you?

Peter: And we’re honoured to have you as a member of GWOAC Peter!

GWOAC was born out of a writing workshop I took part in at Hal-con a couple of years back, which was hosted by Canadian author Julie Czerneda. I felt such a powerful energy from mingling with other authors in that workshop and was disappointed that when I returned home I couldn’t recapture it. I joined a couple of online writing groups since there wasn’t an in-person one near me, but found each of these online groups nothing more than a “pump & dump” of buy-my-book links.

I wanted something more, so in December 2016 Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada was born. We’re dedicated to aspiring, amateur & professional writers of genre fiction who live in or have a strong connection to the Atlantic Provinces of Canada. The group tries to foster a welcoming and friendly community for networking, encouragement, and support, and I’d like to think we do a good job of it.

One of the wonderful things that has grown out of GWOAC is the connections I have made with other authors within my region, the wealth of talent that is all around us completely staggers me.

1st: Not only are you a bestselling author, but you are also an entrepreneur. You have a used bookstore called Fictionfirst Used Books.  Where are you located? What do you specialize in? What can you tell the readers about running a bookstore.

Peter: As I mentioned above, my passion lies with fantasy and science fiction, and as such, I have a rather large book collection. As time went on, I found myself with multiple copies of books which I used to take to my local used bookstore for credit until I realized that maybe this is something I could do in my “spare time”. So in 2008, I started Fictionfirst Used Books a simple home-based used bookstore that specializes in previously enjoyed Fantasy & Sci-fi novels, Role-playing manual, and Graphic Novels with well over 5000 title in stock.

Owning and running this shop has allowed me to connect with others passionate about sci-fi and fantasy. My customers are young teens right up to senior citizens, all connected with a desire to explore new and exciting worlds with the written word.

1st: You are a very busy writer, with Black Hare Press, Engen Books,  Kit Sora Flash Fiction. Are there other projects you would like to mention.

Peter: You’re right in saying that I’m quite busy, and likely will continue to do so. I have several submission calls on my calendar that I’m interested in submitting too if I can get my butt in gear but don’t want to jinx it by naming them.

1st: This has been amazing talking with Peter Foote. Thank you so much for your time. Is there anything we didn’t cover in this interview you would like to mention, any shout outs or links?

Peter: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all the members of GWOAC who come together to help support and strengthen the Atlantic Canadian writing community. To the teams behind Engen Books and Black Hare Press for doing me the honour of having my stories within their collections, and my critique buddy Jennifer Shelby for providing a sober second set of eyes on many of accepted works.

1st: Are there any future projects you would like to discuss?

Peter: I’ve had initial talks with a publisher about putting a short story collection together, and I’m beginning to get serious about writing a full-length novel, something completely outside my comfort zone.

1st: Peter Foote is there anything we didn’t discuss in this interview you would like to mention?

Peter: If you’ve ever thought about putting pen to paper, I encourage you to try. EVERYONE’S first draft is garbage, the purpose of the first draft is to get the words on the page, edit when you have finished that.

If you’re a reader, I want you to leave a review of the books you’ve read. Author’s LOVE seeing that someone has read and enjoyed their book, and it helps others know if the book might be something they would enjoy.

1st: You have worked on a lot of amazing projects. Are there any shout outs or links you would like to share we haven’t covered you would like readers to know about?

Peter: If you’re interested in following me on social media, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and on WordPress.

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