Folks, please give a warm welcome to Peter Riva, author of Murder on Safari. We chat about building obstacle course, the need to continually learn, children’s books, and plenty more! And don’t forget to check out the print, audiobook, & gift card giveaway (International!) at the end of the post!
What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?
Writing is a sheer joy. Total mental pleasure. Never frustrating, never boring, always an adventure. Compared to any other “job?” Hmmm… let me see, the worst jobs are always the ones where you don’t learn anything, that you repeat the same nonsense over and over again. Like filling in tax papers or financial reports, or perhaps having to listen to under-educated people voice absolute opinions, absolute certainty, and refuse to examine facts. It doesn’t matter if I agree with them or not, they can have beliefs, they have the right. But when presented with facts that conflict with their mindset, the uneducated resort to “I don’t care” and “I don’t want to learn.” That is terribly sad. Always.
The whole point of being human is to learn, continually learn. Learn how to push a broom better, how to cook something new, how to research a new subject, or how to make computers do what you want them to (why I never use Apple which I consider almost fascist in its “do it our way or no way” approach). The day you stop learning, or being able to learn, lights out. You are done. Well, I’ll be done.
In my experience, some of the best fiction is based on facts and history. How do you build your research into your fictional works?
I go there, experience the place, the people, the smells, tempo, essence of the locale and its history. I reach out to good and bad alike, listen to their reality. I am a news and information junkie, sleeping with the radio tuned to the BBC, Radio Suisse Romande, Deutsche Welle, or France Inter. Somehow, it is all distilled in this cranium. As my physics teacher once said, it is important you understand the how and why, solidly, one time – because when you forget the details, you will be able to retrace the facts to lead you to a reevaluation of the how and why. Life is like that, you always need to go back and check what you think you know. Research is like detective work – and who doesn’t love that? I have a 1953 Britannica (it was my father’s) that I treasure. Perspective – comparing then and now.
In writing your bad guys, do you want the reader to enjoy hating on him/her, or do you want the reader to be waiting for that magical moment when they redeem themselves?
Redemption for terrorists would have had to start long before they make my pages. The definition of terrorism is to commit the unforgivable. With that goal in their minds, they simply need stopping and should be detested. My characters opposing these evil-doers are human, and yes, at times, there is a sadistic retributive streak in them too. Life should not be easily discarded, but in the wild there is often no room for sentimentality. And in a panic to save hundreds of thousands, perhaps the heroes can be forgiven for not worrying about redemption.
If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?
Well, that’s fun!
Gavin Lyall, because he understood the true flaws of the hero. John le Carre because he lives, eats, sleeps authenticity of firsthand experience. Graham Greene because he knew the world that was not simplistic, that humans were flawed and in their flaws can come survival. Teddy Roosevelt because he understood the feeling of being “out there” on adventure, on safari (everyone writing after him was merely mimicking). And, certainly not least, Vandana Shiva who writes so wonderfully about the real environment we all need to preserve.
What is the first book you remember reading on your own?
Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses” quickly followed by “Kidnapped” age 6 or 7. Although I am sure I read books before – especially the Golden Books, I am sure.
Your task is to design an obstacle course. Futuristic setting? Historical setting? Man versus nature? And who would you like to see run the course?
Obstacles are, unless there is a time constraint, all about will power and intellect. The challenge would be in the complexity of the course – including research and application requirements. For example, one simple obstacle could be to determine how to solve a tough math equation written on a table over a river. You must keep your feet dry, with only a pole less than half the width of the river, some rope, a length of 12” diameter pipe and an axe. You can use the lumber already cut in the forest.
Would you build a bridge? Would you build a catapult and launch yourself over? Would you build a boat? How about making yourself leggings from the pipe? On the other hand, you could simply lasso the table with the question and drag it over. Your feet would be dry. As Edward de Bono said, “Think laterally.” Said another way, calculate all the possibilities. Then choose.
Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?
I have two fun series going. One features Mbuno, the intrepid East African guide and his friend Pero Balthazar – Murder On Safari is the first, then The Berlin Package is the next (in April next year). The other series is Sci-Fi, cyberpunk, featuring a very flawed Simon Bank, a master computer technician who ends up bringing the master computer to life as an A.I. Oops.
I will, hopefully, continue to have adventures with these fellows. Meanwhile, as a literary agent I work with over 40 authors, finding homes for their wonderful books and stories. I also lecture at universities and in workshops – for charity – helping prospective authors better understand the realities of commercial publishing. Books are the lifeblood of our culture. No TV show, no film, no newspaper, Internet site could happen without the written word – and books are the pinnacle of that art form. The more people writing, the better.
Only a reality TV producer and an expert safari guide can stop a terrorist attack.
Every adventure starts at the fringes of civilization. For expert safari guide Mbuno and wildlife television producer Pero Baltazar, filming in the wild of East Africa should have been a return to the adventure they always loved. This time they’d be filming soaring vultures in northern Kenya and giant sea crocodiles in Tanzania with Mary, the daughter of the world’s top television evangelist, the very reverend Jimmy Threte.
But when a terrorist cell places them in the crosshairs, there is suddenly no escape and they must put their filming aside and combine all their talents to thwart an all-out al-Shabaab terrorist attack on Jimmy Threte’s Christian gathering of hundreds of thousands in Nairobi, Kenya.
Peter Riva spent many months over thirty years in Africa, many of them with the legendary guides for East African white hunters and adventurers. He created a TV series (seventy-eight 1-hour episodes) in 1995 called WildThings for Paramount TV. Passing on the fables, true tales and insider knowledge of these last reserves of true wildlife is a passion.
There’s plenty of more interviews, guest posts, reviews, and book spotlights on this tour, courtesy of iRead Book Tours. You can check out the tour schedule HERE.
Win 1 of 10 print or audiobook copies of Murder on Safari and (2) $25 Amazon gift cards (International)