Q&A: Ron Peterson
Just another day suddenly turned into a devastating tragedy. And, many lives hung in the balance, as Tower One of the World Trade Center came crashing down on 9/11.
One man was taken on a mysterious, spiritual tour of his life, which left him wondering if he were dead or alive.
In the novel A Time To..., Ron Peterson leads us on an exploration of the colorful life of one baby boomer as he finds love, faith, hope and charity in the wake of disaster.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE A TIME TO...?
Several things that were happening in my life and in the world had converged about ten years ago which prompted me to write A TIME TO...
I was born and raised in New York City - Astoria, Queens to be exact. Like millions of others around the world, I was shocked and hurt in many ways as a result of the 9/11 tragedy. But since New York City had been such a big part of my formative years and since I had just turned 51 a few months before 9/11, I found myself reflecting more than usual on my life. This led me to read The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren. It's a great book because it asked the questions I was asking myself at the time and answered them in terms of spirituality and faith, which spoke to me in many ways.
While I have been writing all my professional life, first as a broadcast journalist and then as a public relations executive, I had not acted on an urge to write fiction. I had developed an appreciation for the power of fiction as an undergraduate English major at City College of New York when I studied the great novelists: Hugo, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Kafka, Dickens, Orwell, Swift, Twain, Cervantes, Shakespeare, and more. The stories in the bible have also inspired me.
One of my CCNY instructors was Joseph Heller, the incredibly talented author of Catch 22 who demonstrated the power of questioning social norms with biting humor. He had told me that I had a gift for writing wry humor; that comment stuck with me long after and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was because I always saw myself as being creative and a renowned author had confirmed my suspicions.
I think a big reason why I hadn't written fiction since my college days was because I was searching for my writer's voice. I needed to feel passionate about a subject before getting the urge to write; and, until 9/11, I didn't have it.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
As I said, I love the great novelists who have shaped so much of literature. I'm not a student of modern literature and don't know why. I think I get my contemporary views on life from various non-fiction authors, popular songs, the news media and the Internet, which provide lots of food for thought and inspiration.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
The subjects that interest me most are those that deal with the big questions that affect all of our lives; and, these questions are most often linked to our faith: good/evil, justice/injustice, right/wrong, life/death and more.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
I've always wanted to express myself creatively and have done so in various ways in the jobs I've had; but after 9/11, I realized that if I were to suddenly die, like those who lost their lives on that day, I would have wasted my God-given creative writing talents. I didn't want this to happen; so, I decided to spend as much time as possible on writing novels for the rest of my life. If I don't earn enough doing it to live a comfortable life, at least I will be doing what I love.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
My goal is to tell intriguing stories about people who readers care about; and, in the process, I hope they are inspired to think about their lives in new ways. I write stories that help me explore my life; and, that's what I hope they do for my readers as well.