My writing career really began in my late twenties when, after several years of collecting rejection slips, I wrote some prize-winning short stories and my poetry appeared in an anthology edited by the legendary Elaine Feinstein, no less.
My elation was relatively brief, however, when I realised that nobody ever made a living writing short stories and, at that time, there were more people writing poetry than actually reading it…
I knew I had to face my demons and do the thing that I had always dreamed of doing: write a novel. But, in a way, I was afraid to even try – what if I wasn’t as talented as I thought I was? What if my ambition to become a full-time writer was unrealistic? You see, there wasn’t anything else I wanted to do and, worse than that, after a few idle years pursuing a degree in psychology and engineering – yes, really, how useful is that! – there wasn’t anything else I could do…
My first novel, a political sci-fi imagining of the London of the future, THE USURPER, was accepted for publication in 1988.
Great, I hear you say, but it hadn’t been quite that simple: I’d sent the first thirty pages to Jonathan Cape, expecting the usual “thank you for your submission, please never send us anything again” or politer words to that effect. But they’d loved it and wanted to see the whole manuscript – but I didn’t have the whole manuscript, I only had that thirty pages. I was elated for about ten minutes and then I panicked. What the hell was I going to do? In the end, I asked a friend to help me complete it and the novel was eventually published by Grafton under the name Peter Michael.
It wasn’t until the early ’90s and a painful break-up with a girl I loved obsessively that I wrote my first solo novel. Abandoned and heart-broken in India, I didn’t know what else to do with myself…
KISSING THROUGH A PANE OF GLASS won a Betty Trask Award (Best First Novel by a Writer Under 35) and my career took off when it was published in hardback by Simon & Schuster in 1993, and a year later in paperback (a big deal in the days before ebooks).
Three more novels followed, TOUCHED BY A GOD OR SOMETHING, BECAUSE IT MAKES MY HEART BEAT FASTER and DANIEL’S DREAM (also published by Simon & Schuster in both hardback and paperback). And I found that obsession, in all it’s many manifestations, became something of a theme for me.
A life-long interest in film and a desire to write a screenplay as good as Robert Towne’s “Chinatown” made me jump at the chance of adapting KISSING THROUGH A PANE OF GLASS for the big screen when it was optioned by Poisson Rouge Pictures in 1998. It hasn’t yet made it into production, but I’d discovered another medium I loved to work in.
My first short film script, CATFLAP, was short-listed by Scottish Screen/BBC Scotland and my second career was launched when I won a development award from the UK Film Council for my thriller project THE CLEANER. (The screenplay was selected for Moonstone International Screenwriters’ Labs and was also a Quarterfinalist in the American Academy of Motion Pictures Nicholl Fellowships.)
In fact, my new novel, IMPLICATED, a thriller about a Californian crime-scene cleaner who stumbles on a piece of evidence that implicates the cops in an assassins-for-hire conspiracy, is based on THE CLEANER!
I also write with my partner Caroline Kozaka. We met in 2001 on a screenwriting workshop in the South of France (no really, we stayed indoors and wrote every single day…) and, despite the fact that I was hysterical from too much red wine and Benadryl (apparently I’m allergic to everything that flowers in France) she guessed I wasn’t as batshit crazy as I appeared and agreed on a collaboration… In 2006, our one hour drama SHUFFLE was commissioned by the BBC for the “Evening Play” series and our action-adventure screenplay THE GREAT GAME is currently in development in Hollywood, so I’m glad she took a chance on the crazy guy…
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