Interview with Parker Peevyhouse

Tell us a little about yourself and your background? (Where are you from, where you grew up, when did you start writing?)

Hi, and thanks for interviewing me! I was born and raised in San Jose, CA, and still live there now. It’s a very geek-friendly area—I can always find someone to talk to about Star Wars and Firefly and The 100. WHERE FUTURES END is my debut novel, told in five interconnected stories and showing what happens when our world collides with an alternate universe. I’ve always loved writing fiction; I published my first short story in a national magazine when I won a contest at age 14.

 

I have always found it difficult to write about female characters. You have a nice mix of male and female characters throughout the story, how difficult do you find it to write about the opposite sex?

I don’t necessarily get nervous about writing from a male perspective, but for WHERE FUTURES END, I did end up writing most of my male main characters from a third person POV and all my female main characters from a first person POV. It just kind of worked out that way. But in the end, I think if an adult can write a teen’s viewpoint, or if a person with no supernatural powers can write about a kid plagued with a sixth sense, then a woman can write a man’s viewpoint (and vice versa).

 

IMG_2494I read you are a teacher, how has working with young children inspired you to write a novel that is geared towards them? (Check out my review of Where Futures End.)

I taught junior and senior high courses at a tutoring center for eight years, and I now manage a program for foster teens. I really enjoy working with young people. But I don’t think that’s why I write for teens. I think I just enjoy tapping into that part of me that still feels like a teen, that is still struggling with difficult questions while at the same time appreciating really juvenile humor.

 

When you set out to write this novel did you have this overall idea in mind or did it evolve while you wrote the story? Did you originally write 5 separate stories and then decided to combine them or was this how it flowed from the get go?

Originally, I had ideas for several separate stories that I wanted to write. But then I started to see how the stories could all revolve around the same mysterious alternate universe and it made me want to link the stories together. So I started writing and prayed all the ideas would come together at some point.

 

Are you a gamer, do you like playing video games? If so what’s you game, and if not then what pushed you to dedicate such a large portion of the story to a video game theme?

I’m not much of a video gamer myself, but it was really fun to learn about popular MMORPGs and to make up my own for the book. WHERE FUTURES END explores a different storytelling medium in each interconnected story: novels and movies in the first story, TV and the Internet in the second story, music in the third story, video games in the fourth story, and oral storytelling in the fifth story. I wanted to explore how we shape culture by telling stories and how culture in turn shapes the stories we tell—throughout the novel, characters tell stories about the alternate universe that our world has come to be connected to. I thought it would be interesting to see how a video game could shape the characters’ perceptions of this alternate universe.

 

The story encompasses quite a few different sci-fi aspects from some really cool VR technology to alternate universes, as well as many more. Which of these aspects excites or inspires you the most when it comes to writing a story?

I’m totally fascinated by other worlds: alternate universes, alien planets, fantasy realms, parallel realities. If it’s weird, I’m for it. Not only do I find world building to be a lot of fun, but I also think it’s easier to explore new perspectives when you remove characters from a familiar setting.

 

During the story it starts at one point and builds through different characters that do not necessarily interact with one another. Was it difficult to write like this? To make sure to keep all the past events accurate as well as moving the plot forward, using these same events, all the while advancing the time period of the story by tens and eventually hundreds of years? I felt this was a very unique style to add to the plot.

The hardest part was figuring out how society would change each time the narrative jumped forward in time. I wanted the main character of each story to make a choice that would set up the situation for the next story, but it was hard to figure out the ramifications of each plotline. Like, how would the world react to seeing a viral video of a person from another universe? What would happen if everyone found out it’s possible to cross into an alternate universe? But I really liked figuring out those connections; that was half the fun of writing a novel structured like this.

 

What in your opinion makes this a young adult novel? In my opinion I would not necessarily give it that certain distinction. Why did you choose this specific clientele to write a story for?

To me, a novel can qualify as YA if it’s about teens facing problems relevant to teens and solving those problems on their own (as opposed to letting adults solve the problems). And that’s what’s going on in WHERE FUTURES END. But I also think WHERE FUTURES END is difficult for some teen readers, because there’s a lot of subtext to parse. Many of the people who have contacted me to tell me they like the book are actually adults. I like writing about teens, and I like the pacing of YA, so I’ll probably continue to write YA while also hoping that adults find my work and enjoy it too.

 

I read that you were a big sifi fan. What is your favorite book when it comes sifi and why?

I grew up reading lots of science fiction and fantasy. As a kid, I loved Lewis’ Narnia chronicles and Coville’s My Teacher Is An Alien series. As a teen, I discovered Heinlein and Asimov and Bradbury and L’Engle. My favorite science fiction novel might be FEED by M. T. Anderson. It’s hilarious and profound at the same time—just really cutting satire. And it plays with language in a fun and beautiful way.

 

Believe to or not I hated reading when I was younger. Do you think young children are reading the wrong books to get them interested in reading? The classics are of course classic, but I think they are also quite dated in my opinion. Your thoughts…

When I was a kid, we always had lots and lots of books around my house, and we went to the library ALL the time, and I would regularly rollerblade to our corner bookstore to spend my pocket money on Goosebumps books. I always picked my own reading material, and there was always plenty around to choose from; I think that’s why I’ve always loved to read. And I think that as your love of reading grows, you end up expanding what you read because you just can’t get enough. I was trying out some classics in junior high school, but again, they were classics that I got to pick out myself, so I read Brave New World and The Time Machine and Fahrenheit 451, all science fiction classics.

 

As a successful writer, do you have any specific goals? Maybe something that you set for yourself either words per day, or how many pieces you would like to complete each year? What drives you to keep pushing forward?

I don’t usually set output goals for myself because the stories I write tend to be weird and complex, and writing them involves a lot erasing and starting over and staring at the wall thinking and starting over again. So my word count ends up being all over the place. Usually what I do is ask a writer friend if they’ll critique something for me soon, and when they say yes it lights a fire under me to finish it so they won’t think I’m a total flake.

 

Who was your biggest influence that pushed you to want to be a writer?

I can’t remember a time I ever didn’t want to be a writer, but discovering “A Sound Of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury in junior high probably cemented my desire to write strange and surprising stories in particular.

 

Can you talk about any new projects you are working on? What does 2016 hold for Parker Peevyhouse?

I’m working on a couple of futuristic YA novels, one that involves time travel and one that involves aliens, but I can’t really say more than that at the moment!

 

As an aspiring writer, can you offer any advice to me or anyone else out there? What do you attribute your success or perhaps failures to along your journey? What has helped you the most to become successful?

The best thing a writer can do is connect with other writers. Critique their writing and let them critique yours. Encourage each other to commit time to writing. Help each other persevere through rejection. I’d recommend joining a critique group or message board. SCBWI.org runs a great message board for YA and MG writers, and Critters.org has a great critique system for science fiction and fantasy writers.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add? (Please include any links you would like posted Facebook, twitter, website, and I will make sure people know where to find and buy your books.)

Thank you for interviewing me and for reading WHERE FUTURES END. I’d love for people to find me on twitter (@parkerpeevy) or to email me through my website (ParkerPeevyhouse.com) or to sign up for my newsletter (http://eepurl.com/UFbp1). Happy Reading!

 

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