I have had an e-interview with Norm Goldman, Publisher and Editor of Bookpleasures,com.
Norm: How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
William: I had taken a writing course at university, and I always enjoyed writing reports in business, but I had never considered myself a writer of fiction. About eight years ago, I was on holiday in Sicily and I had a series of romantic dreams in which I was involved as a bystander. I thought: it would be fun to write these down. I began writing and by the time I got to page 70, I decided to finish it. That was my first novel. Since then, I’ve derived an increasing satisfaction from completing novels which are better and better.
Norm: What do you think most characterizes your writing?
William: There is always at least one character who is facing ethical/moral dilemmas. I try also to give the reader a strong sense that what she is reading is true and real.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
William: What has been most useful is the feedback I have had on my writing. I am also a fairly avid reader, and I always publish a review of the books I read. This sharpens my critical skills which are important when I’m writing. I really can’t think of an experience which has been destructive.
Norm: How many times in your career have you experienced rejection? How did they shape you?
William: Countless times. I received several dozen rejections for my first novel, and I was ready to give up on getting it published when Eloquent Books (the predecessor of my current publisher) came to me with a co-op publishing offer. Since then I have approached about twenty literary agents and publishers for every novel I’ve written; my approaches have been universally rejected (usually politely) or ignored. I’ve stayed with Strategic Book Publishing. My impression is that to get a contract with a traditional, main-stream publisher, one must have a third-party intervention or recommendation. This is an understandable symptom of risk avoidance in the publishing industry, but it also suggests a lack of independent, creative thinking in the industry. My lack of acceptance by main stream publishers has not deterred me. I will carry on writing better and better novels. Someone will almost certainly notice.
Norm: In your bio you indicated that the spiritual/religious genre is your preferred choice. Could you explain to our readers, why?
William: I am a religious person, but not evangelical. The romance and the three thrillers all have religious aspects. I started writing Sable Shadow & The Presence as a kind of experiment, and I had to re-write large portions of it, but, at the end, I felt particularly good about it. Several excellent reviews and being awarded seven minor prizes convinced me that I had found my venue.
Norm: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of Seeking Father Khaliq? As a follow up, have you ever lived in Egypt?
William: Before I started Seeking Father Khaliq, I decided to write about one character’s search for God, but I didn’t want a typically evangelical book. It had to involve a faith other than Christianity and a venue outside the West. Also, the book had to have more issues than a singular focus on spirituality. I’ve never lived in Egypt, but I’ve visited the country several times. In creating Seeking Father Khaliq, I spent as much time on research as I did on writing.
Norm: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
William: My intention was to leave a gentle message that if one wants to find God, He can be found, and that sometimes He is revealed in the midst of adversity. I think the message is there and perhaps made a bit more interesting by Egypt, philosophy, Islam (good and bad), and the will-of-the-wisp Princess Basheera.
Norm: Do you worry about the human race?
William: Not in the long term. The short term can be a horrendous mess, but somehow we will muddle through.
Norm: How did you go about creating the character of Professor Kareem al-Busiri? (As a passing note, I am married to someone born in Egypt and who lived there until the age of 18, I am familiar with the male Egyptian mindset and you seemed to have vividly captured it).
William: My specifications for Kareem were:
- A respected professor of philosophy at a prominent Egyptian university (I wanted to include philosophy to add richness)
- He should be a secular Muslim: a sort of agnostic
- He should be single to introduce a romantic element
- He should be open-minded and a bit naïve (to believe Princess Basheera)
- He should have adult children to add complexity
Norm: What are some of the references that you used while researching this book? As a follow up, can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
William: My principal reference was Classical Arabic Philosophy, an Anthology of Sources, by Jon McGinnis (Translation), David C. Reisman (Editor). I spent countless hours on the internet to gather facts, opinions and experiences. I don’t remember their names, but I enjoyed vivid personal accounts by pilgrims on the Hajj and Arba’een.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing this book and what did you enjoy most about writing this book?
William: The most difficult part was staying factual in detail, down to the specifications of the Russian-made weapon which killed Kalifa. Most satisfying and enjoyable was integrating all the pieces of a complex story.
Norm: Did you learn anything from writing the book and what was it?
William: While I have read quite a lot about Islam, and I’ve read the Qur’an, I gained a perspective of Islamic culture, and its effect of the values of people.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Seeking Father Khaliq?
William: I have blog (https://williampeaceblog.com/) which has been going for six years, and which includes my opinions and experiences as a writer. I’ll let Father Khaliq speak for himself.
Norm: What is next for William Peace?
William: I’m writing another novel, set in East Africa, with three main young adult characters: a penniless man of traditional tribal faith; a middle class, Christian woman; and a Muslim man from a wealthy, prominent family. All are black: there is plenty of interaction and clashes in values and beliefs.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
William: What else does your ‘day job’ consist of? Because I write with intensity only three or four hours a day, I need ‘alternative occupations’. These include pro bono consulting work for London charities, treasurer of a charity which provides psychotherapy, and involvement with two of our daughters and their families who live nearby.