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Peter J Davidson Interview

Posted on 13 July 2005. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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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.

Iíve just written my first childrenís book Ė Professor P and the Jurassic Coast. Itís an adventure story about two children who go back in time to the age of the dinosaurs. Iím 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 downÖ



And that was when you started writing?

It wasnít 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 couldnít believe I had written a book for him Ė 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 didnít 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 childrenís 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 Ė and that it was a mixture of ideas that didnít fit well together. Julie said that my strength as a childrenís 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.




A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.






Comments by other Members



EmmaD at 09:45 on 18 July 2005  Report this post
Just shows it can be done! Very encouraging. It shows how distribution is always the problem with self-publishing, and the people who succeed are the ones with a particular market: even as big a potential market as schools-and-parents are easier to target than that fabulous monster 'the general reader' that so many of us are looking for.

Emma

<Added>

Sorry - can't think how it got in 4 times. Hope someone can remove it!

EmmaD at 09:45 on 18 July 2005  Report this post
Just shows it can be done! Very encouraging. It shows how distribution is always the problem with self-publishing, and the people who succeed are the ones with a particular market: even as big a potential market as schools-and-parents are easier to target than that fabulous monster 'the general reader' that so many of us are looking for.

Emma

EmmaD at 09:45 on 18 July 2005  Report this post
Just shows it can be done! Very encouraging. It shows how distribution is always the problem with self-publishing, and the people who succeed are the ones with a particular market: even as big a potential market as schools-and-parents are easier to target than that fabulous monster 'the general reader' that so many of us are looking for.

Emma

EmmaD at 09:48 on 18 July 2005  Report this post
Just shows it can be done! Very encouraging. It also shows how distribution is always the problem with self-publishing, and the people who succeed are the determined ones with a particular market: even as big a potential market as schools-and-parents is easier to target than that fabulous monster 'the general reader' that so many of us are looking for.

Emma

old friend at 07:20 on 19 July 2005  Report this post
Hello Peter,

My heart goes out to you in your aims for your publishing company. I like the reaction you received from David... I experienced such an honest response from one of mine!

I am sure your efforts and experiences at self-publishing will be a wonderful example for many writers who wish to take this road.

May your book(s) and your publishing compeny be outstandingly successful;.

Len

<Added>

I can spell the word 'company' but my glasses need cleaning. Soryy.

<Added>

I can spell the word 'company' but my glasses need cleaning. Soryy.

I can also spell 'sorry'... it's not my morning, is it?

ProfessorP at 12:21 on 20 July 2005  Report this post
Dear EmmaD

Thanks for your comments. Yes, it's a strange paradox, but it's easier to sell a book with a restricted market than a more general one. It's important not to try to compete with the big publishers (as you won't succeed!). I have met so many self-published authors who have sold a few copies of their books to friends and don't sell any more. It's a great pity, there are so many good books out there, just not reaching their audience...

Best wishes

Peter J Davidson

ProfessorP at 12:35 on 20 July 2005  Report this post
Dear Old_Friend

Thanks for your kind words. Getting feedback is so important when writing. I was very lucky to have my wife Julie and son David to give me the right kind of critism - they helped me to improve my work by drawing the best out of me.

I do hope my example will help other writers to realise that being rejected by the big publishers is not the end. In my case it was just the beginning!

Best wishes,

Peter.

Beanie Baby at 12:51 on 20 July 2005  Report this post
This is a truly inspiring story and I was enthralled by every word. I have done some self publishing myself (although on a much smaller scale) and I identified with everything Peter said - the thrills, spills, ups, down and the sheer delight of getting feedback and seeing it all come to fruition. I'd like to send him my warmest and most heartfelt congratulations. His story has inspired me to try something on a larger scale next time.
Best wishes,
Beanie

ProfessorP at 17:04 on 21 July 2005  Report this post
Dear Beanie Baby

Thank you for you comments - I wish you every success with your self-publishing. As I am sure you are aware, the skills needed to be a publisher are very different from those needed as an author. I personally found it very difficult to market myself as I'm quite shy and I found it particulary hard trying to sell to bookshops over the phone. I was very nervous when I did my first newspaper interview and terrified when I went into a school to talk about my book. But I think that overcoming those fears has helped me greatly in all areas of my life. And whether you self-publish or go with a conventional publisher, you are the best person to promote your book - because you believe in it.

Best wishes,

Peter.


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