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Thursday, 28 May 2015

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Peter packs a powerful yarn in his Westerns

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AUTHOR: Peter Wilson with a selection of his books

WESTERN fiction is a genre loaded with imagery and conflict; heroes and villains, lawful and lawless, from dust bowl towns populated by cowboys.

In stark contrast, it was while looking over the rolling fairways of Furness Golf Club, that author and experienced sports journalist, Peter Wilson, first came up with the idea to write Westerns.

From their Ocean Road home on Walney, Peter gestured towards the golf course and said to his wife: “The Indians are coming!” and the throwaway comment went on to spawn a series of books, published by Robert Hale books of London as part of the Black Horse Western series.

Another of his books started simply with a name, “Virtue”, which becomes the town where all the action takes place. And once the scene is set for Peter, it’s a case of saddling up for a ride into the unknown.

“I had the name of the town “Virtue” and thought I would start it and see where it takes me. I’ve no idea where it’s going to end,” says Peter, of his freestyle approach to writing.

“As you go along I find that things come to you and you think “that’s an idea!”.”

The fictional stories reference historical events, such as the American Civil War, but as far as Peter’s concerned “they’re only adventure stories set in the West”.

He adds: “I’m interested in the West and like stories of the American Civil War. America, the country, fascinates me.”

His latest, and fifth novel, No Peace For A Rebel, starts a year after the (1861-65) Civil War, but there’s unfinished business.

A renegade soldier refuses to accept the war is over so he brings in the protagonist, Daniel Reno, to carry out a gold bullion robbery. Little does he realise he’s being drawn into a plot that could change the course of history.

Fans of the author will be pleased to hear he’s already halfway through the next, Dig Two Graves.

After that he’s going to turn his hand to a conspiracy thriller, although he jokes that he’ll have to get a move on before fact imitates fiction and the plot transpires.

It sounds like it has great potential for TV or film adaptation, but Peter insists his writing is not a money-making venture.

“If truth be told, I spent 30 years at the Daily Express and Daily Star and spent most of those years trying to become England’s answer to Robert Ludlum,” he said.

There’s a nod to Ludlum’s hero, Jason Bourne, in A Bullet for Ben McCabe, but that’s where the similarities end.

“Writing is a hobby, there’s no money in this,” Peter reiterates.

“I like sitting at a typewriter and writing.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. Since I was eight years old I always wanted to be a reporter.”

The former national sports journalist has also ghost-written rugby league legend, Alex Murphy’s autobiography Saint and Sinner, and draws upon his vast experience of the game for some monikers.

Super League player, Jim Gannon, makes an appearance as the sheriff in Gannon’s Law and one of the towns, Crawford, is named after his brother-in-law.

“I’m hopeless with names so I started using rugby league players,” the self-confessed “rugby man” says.

Since retiring to Walney seven years ago Peter has become a regular fixture on the sideline at games, always cheering on the underdog, when he’s not watching or playing golf.

He returned to his home town with his wife Vera to visit his sister and has remained ever since.

“I was born in Barrow and left in 1953 when I was 11,” he explains.

“About eight years ago my sister moved back. We were in Manchester and thought we would visit and we went for a pint in The Castle and they were putting a sign up saying “house for sale”. I pulled up at the side of the road and called the estate agent and they said they hadn’t even got a price yet. Two days later it was all done and dusted.”

The couple have a daughter and two sons who all live down south.

“I’ve always wanted to live by the shore. I couldn’t afford to move down there so I moved up here – and my wife loves it – apart from the wind,” he adds.

Retirement, coupled with the reviving sea air, have obviously proved productive for Peter, who is now working on his sixth Western.

“I’ve always got a pad on the go and always get good ideas but lots of them halt halfway through,” says Peter.

And so unless you want to end up as a character in his next novel, if you see Peter with a pen in his hand, be wary of giving him your name!


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