Interview With Caleb Peiffer
Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.
The first chapter book I read as a kid was Beverly Cleary's The Mouse and the Motorcycle. That was it for me. I knew I wanted to be a writer. And I never stopped wanting it. So I wrote fan fiction for a long time. Then when I was seventeen I wrote my first novel, and published independently the next year. That was only four years ago. Since then I've written four more novels and a slew of short stories. At times, I'm more productive than at others. But the only trick I know is to keep going, and never stop.
Tortured Worlds is a collection of five short stories, landing across the spectrum of speculative fiction. One's post-apocalyptic, one's alien contact, one's dystopian, one's fantasy, and one's sort of hard to define, pan-genre if you will. So they're all very different. I even wrote some of them years apart. But the thread that links these stories together is the pain the characters experience, and overcome. They're all tortured in some way, and that's the root of their conflicts. It's a loose connection, but I like it that way.
Why did you decide to write in the speculative fiction genre?
When I started out writing fan fiction, they'd usually be adventures, mostly fantasy. Then I gradually moved in a science fiction direction. My first three novels were mysteries, and that was a new genre for me but it was one I'd read the most of. And now that I was writing seriously, science fiction started calling me back, and I came running. I think what appeals to me about it its big-picture view: if this is what the world looks like now, what could it lead to next, or what must have come before to bring it here? You have free range to speculate. That's why sci-fi is often called speculative fiction.
You write in several genres. Do you have a favourite? And if so, why?
No, I don't think I do. If I had a favorite genre, it would be pan-genre, stories with a little bit of everything. Because I can't choose just one. I love mysteries, and I love high fantasy and fairy tales, and I love science fiction. If I ever tried to settle down in one and just write that forever, I'd drive myself crazy. I like keeping my horizons broad.
What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your book?
I think every writer writes for two main reasons: self-expression, and entertainment. Most writers I know turn to stories because they don't have many other outlets to express themselves creatively. And every writer wants to entertain their readers, and themselves. So those are the reasons. But then there's the hopes. I hope to touch people and affect their lives through my writing, even in some small way. I guess with Tortured Worlds, what I hope for most is that it will find its way to someone in a dark place, and that they'll find an uplifting message in one of my stories. I want people like them to know that darkness doesn't last forever, and dragons can be slain.
Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?
I try to write every day. I used to be very good at that, and even now that I have less free time on my hands, I still do the best I can. If I didn't, then all these ideas floating around in my head would be trapped there forever, and eventually I'd go out of my mind. As for where the ideas come from, who knows? They come from connections, I can tell you that much. Putting little pieces of your experiences together in new ways. They come from the everyday what-ifs. Sometimes they come to me while I'm watching TV or reading a book, and I'll think, "What if the story had happened this way?" or "What if this character was like this instead?" And then, an idea is born.
Do you have a favourite author, or writing inspiration?
Oh, definitely. Many different ones. When it comes to mystery, Agatha Christie inspired me the most, hands-down. For fantasy it was Baum and Tolkien, and the likes of them. C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy has been the strongest influence on my science fiction. And when it comes to my writing in general, I already mentioned that Beverly Cleary was the first one to inspire me. But the number one writer, or artist I should say, who has influenced me the most, isn't even a novelist. Bill Watterson, author of the Calvin and Hobbes comic series, is the most masterful artist I know, and has always been my greatest creative inspiration.
What advice would you give beginning writers?
Write more. Write everything you can. And write patiently. Don't get discouraged, and don't stop. You'll never regret writing something, I can guarantee you that. You'll never look back and say, "Man, if only I hadn't written that." But you will look back and regret not having written more. So keep writing.
What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?
Well, I have a fairy tale that I think will appeal to both children and adults in the works. The first draft is written, now it just needs to go through the rigorous process of editing and rewriting. I also have a lot more speculative short stories I'm working on. I'm definitely planning to put a few more collections out there this year.
About the Author:
Caleb Peiffer writes mystery, fantasy, science fiction, or just about anything. Growing up, he always wanted to write, so now that's what he does. When he's not writing, he's reading, or planning what to write next. He lives in paradise on the east coast of Florida. Get to know him at CalebPeiffer.com
A post-apocalyptic winter, superpowered aliens, a machine that controls the planets' movement, immortal love, and voices echoing from nowhere. These are just some of the things that torture the worlds you'll find in these stories.
The Tortured Worlds collection features five stories of science fiction and fantasy
You can find his new speculative fiction story collection Tortured Worlds on Amazon, and don't forget it's on free promotion March 5th and 6th.