Peter J Davidson Interview
Posted on 13 July 2005. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Peter J Davidson, whose self published children's novel has been such a huge success it's now into a third print run of 10,000
Tell us something about your background.
I’ve just written my first children’s book – Professor P and the Jurassic Coast. It’s an adventure story about two children who go back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. I’m currently working on the sequel, Professor P and the Dinosaur Island, the second part of the prehistoric trilogy.
Do you do any other work besides writing?
Yes, I work as a computer and electronics designer. I am currently working on a magnetic guidance system for underground directional drilling machines.
How, when and why did you first start writing?
As a child I hated English, particularly creative writing. I would sit staring a blank piece of paper, totally unable to think of any ideas for stories and always got bad marks at school. My interest was in mathematics and science and when I left school I went to Cambridge University to study Theoretical Physics. But in 1993, when my son David was 3 years old I started to tell him bed-time stories as a way of helping him to get to sleep. The stories were about a scientist and inventor called Professor P; David absolutely loved them and refused to go to bed without a story! A few years later I was very busy with work and was travelling to the States regularly so I had to stop telling him the bedtime stories. But he made me promise to write some of the stories down…
And that was when you started writing?
It wasn’t until 1999 that I began writing Professor P and the Time Machine. I spent about an hour each morning in the office writing the story and printed it out in book form with illustrations and gave it to David for his 9th birthday.
What was his reaction?
He couldn’t believe I had written a book for him – he was absolutely delighted! My wife Julie loved the book too and persuaded me to find a publisher.
Did you find it easy to find a publisher?
I didn’t want to send the manuscript to publishers until I was completely happy with it. So over the next few months I read a lot of children’s books and books about creative writing. It took me about a year to completely rewrite the book and I read version 2 to Julie and David in the summer of 2000.
And they liked it?
No! They hated it! They said the book had lost its original charm – and that it was a mixture of ideas that didn’t fit well together. Julie said that my strength as a children’s writer was that I was a real scientist and that I should focus on writing believable stories based on accurate science.
So you took their advice?
Yes. I also decided that the problem was I was trying to write during work, constantly being interrupted by phone calls and e-mails. I decided to stop working on computing projects and devote myself to full time writing. I threw version 2 in the bin and started from scratch. A year later it was finished! I read it to Julie and David, who loved it, gave copies out to friends and received very positive feedback. So then I started to approached agents and publishers with the manuscript.
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