Saturday, October 10, 2020

Peter Colt

Peter Colt was born in Boston, MA in 1973 and moved to Nantucket Island shortly thereafter. He is a 1996 graduate of the University of Rhode Island and a 24-year veteran of the Army Reserve with deployments to Kosovo and Iraq. He is a police officer in a New England City and the married father of two boys.

Colt's new novel is Back Bay Blues.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

Back Bay Blues is set in 1985 and is about a Vietnam Veteran and Private Investigator, Andy Roark. He lives in the Back-Bay section of Boston and the blues alludes to his struggles with coming to terms with his survivors’ guilt and missing the war. I am very inspired by music and in my mind, it was called Stray Cats Strut. My editor asked me if I could come up with something else. In the end it was Back Bay Blues.

What's in a name?

My protagonist is named Andy Roark. He is half Boston Irish and half German. I wanted him to have an American/Irish name which lead to the Andy portion. In my mind I turned over and tried many other Irish sounding names and then I settled on Roark as the last name. There are two characters in the book; “Chris” and “Tony” who are Green Berets and they are only referred to by their first names in keeping with the habit of Special Forces soldiers doing so.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your novel?

My teenage self would be surprised that I could focus on anything long enough to write a novel. On the other hand, I have loved mysteries and detective novels since I was a pre-teen. In the teenage years I started to read a lot about the Vietnam war. My teenage self wouldn’t be surprised at the melding of the two as the subject matter for my novel.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Neither. I usually have kicked the idea for the story around in my head for several weeks or months, sometimes even years. I have a good idea of the beginning and the ending is usually 95% done in my head. When I sit down at the keyboard. I have already, roughly outlined the book and the characters before I sit down to write. The middle bits are the ones that are most likely to change, plot lines get added, plot lines get deleted, characters are added or character ideas I had at the beginning don’t fit anymore. I am telling myself the story, entertaining myself with it, as I write it.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

I do see much of myself in my characters. My main character is tougher, and cooler than I am but he has a sense of humor like mine, we share our taste in music, books and whiskey. That is mostly because it is easier to write about what I know about. I tried to write a character that is someone who isn’t a fictionalized version of me but rather someone that I would think is interesting or would like to hang out with. I think that a writer has to have that connection to the characters they write about.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

History. History is one of the big influences. I have read a lot about Vietnam and especially U.S. Army Special Forces in Vietnam. That lead to my main character’s backstory. The plot of Back Bay Blues was taking shape in my mind, I had a couple of vivid scenes in my mind and was trying to figure out how to get my protagonist into them. Then I saw two Frontline (PBS) documentaries, one was about the last days of Saigon and the U.S. withdrawal and the other was about a group of South Vietnamese Army officers in the U.S. who were raising money to try and overthrow the current Vietnamese government. Like that I had two major plot lines for Back Bay Blues and the book poured out of me. I am also heavily influenced by music when I write. For me it is like a soundtrack for the novel, which I see as a movie in my mind while I am writing it.
Visit Peter Colt's website.

My Book, The Movie: Back Bay Blues.

The Page 69 Test: Back Bay Blues.

--Marshal Zeringue