Today I chatted with Pete Peru, full name Pete Teutihuakki Peru, about his satirical fiction.
Hi, Pete! Nice to have you with us today. Tell us about your books.
The Reeking Hegs is… it’s hard to put into words. This question, in fact, reminds me of how my mind used to go blank after I’d returned to the U.K. and people would say, “What’s Peru like, then?” What I can tell you about it is that it is really funny, even when the events being related are horrific.
My partner and I both revelled in manipulating language, so there’s a lot of manipulation of lexis, grammar, context, double-entendre, innuendo etc. The basic question is, was and always will be: who, where or what are the Reeking Hegs? Every reader will draw their own conclusions as to the true answers to any or all of those questions.
Sounds unique! What’s the first book you ever remember reading?
The Beano Annual, 1964. It was a collection in hardback form containing stories about Dennis the Menace, the Bash Street Kids etc. If the question refers to a novel then I think the first ones I clearly remember taking out of the local lending library were The Hardy Boys stories by Franklin W. Dixon. Frank and Joe, two young American lads, do detection and bust evil-doers. There was a high thrill-quota included, plus a happy ending guaranteed.
What inspired you to start writing?
I love making stuff up. Always have. I found very early on how much fun it is to make up stuff with words. I also loved reading. My mother told me I could read before I could walk.
Reading is important, how great your mother encouraged you from such a young age! Who is your main inspiration?
On the grand scale, though it sound grandiloquent or facetious even, the main inspiration has been what some call the University of Life. Closer to home, the main inspiration for The Reeking Hegs was the eccentric ideas of my writing partner, Lord Tupelo. Not to mention his endless supply of fine hand-crafted ales.
Aside from writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I had to give up bastardball, mainly because the Centre Court was demolished in 1992. That really signalled the end of my sporting career. Now in my dotage one of my favourite pastimes is going to the shop for milk.
Tell me about your writing space. Where do you usually write?
A lot of The Reeking Hegs was written in Lord Tupelo’s kitchen. As the work progressed, any venue might be deemed suitable for another session of heggery. At times a quiet, reclusive sort of situation was prefered. At others a raucous if not downright seedy drinking establishment would suit us better.
Are you a morning or night person? What time of day do you prefer to sit and write?
I only write in the morning as a result of not going to sleep the night before. Normally I need tea, toast and marmalade to get me going. On those occasions where I have slept soundly the night before, my usual practice is to write after sunset.
Do you plan out your stories or are you a pantser (making it up as you go along)?
I get an idea and follow it to see where it leads. There are times the initial idea leads to unexpected destinations. Once the process of revision kicks in there tends to be more planning with hindsight.
What’s your favourite book genre? Do you write in that genre?
I’m addicted to reading. I’ll read almost anything. Give it a try at least once. That said, I read quite a lot of S.F. but have not written any. I also read a lot of books devoted to the history of this and that and am tempted to write a historical novel about the Battle of Jutland.
Tell me your top three favourite books of all time.
Almost impossible. Speaking only of fiction I’ll name three but be aware that the all-time fave label could be applied to a shed-load more of titles. 1: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. This was the first book I read – I was about 12 – that really put the hook in me. Emotionally involved me so that it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me want Jim to get away and for them to just leave Huck be.
2: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño. Look, that guy could just flat out write. ’nuff said.
3: Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I have an interest in the years 1939-45. An extreme, intense six years, immersed in as much myth and legend as historical fact. Pynchon takes a look at the last few months of all that from an esoteric when not libidinous standpoint packed with incident and unforgettable characters.
Have you ever read a book that changed your life?
Well, The Catcher in the Rye threw me into a state of morbid excitation. So much so that I rose from my bed and tramped the streets of my hometown wailing and wringing my hands as if I were young Holden himself myself with the result that I was stopped and questioned by the occupants of a passing police car.
Not satisfied with my vague when not irrational responses to their interrogations I was taken to the cop-shop and spent the night courtesy of H.M. the Queen. This incident changed my life in that I was ever afterwards determined to never to spend another night in one of her establishments.
Who is your favourite book character who you’ve created?
Rob Roy Rogers. Such a sweet amalgam. And I love the image of him standing there with that rooster on top of his hat crowing madly all the time.
What’s your latest book about?
I was writing a futuristic tale of mega-woes in a world populated by crazies. Then I realised as I sat watching the first Mad Max movie (1991) it’s all be done before. I’m now mulling over how to write the story of how we wrote The Hegs.
OK, something unrelated to writing! If you could go on a date with any celebrity, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’d say Malinche. She was Hernan Cortez’s indian concubine. According to the story, if not for her that little escapade – the destruction of the city of Tenochtitlan and the entire Meso-American indian civilisation – would not have panned out so well for old Hern and his band of stinking, bearded, avaricious compañeros.
I’d meet her and carry her off, far away to the forests of Oaxaca leaving the Spanish would be usurpers to face the music and thereby change the course of history… this could be a great synopsis for a blockbuster novel leading to a movie!
Thank you, Pete! Where can we find out more about you?