Disturbing the Peace is my fourth novel and was released January 4. It is a novel of suspense set in rural Florida. In the course of the novel, the two central characters (hero/villain or hunter/prey) learn that they share similar values and develop an unusual and unexpected respect for the other. They are both, in a very real sense, noble individuals. One reviewer describes the novel as a modern re-telling of a knight’s tale, and I don’t disagree with that.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am a native of New England, hold a degree in English from the University of Massachusetts – Boston, and have held a variety of jobs: Newspaper reporter, shoe salesman, café owner, and wine merchant. My principal career was in financial services and I was president/CEO of an insurance firm in Boston for twelve years. I now live on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico and have been writing full-time for the past eight years. In addition, I teach a course on writing the novel as part of a program at Edison State College.
What inspired you to write this book?
There were two motivators: The Florida setting I wanted to depict is part of the “old” Florida, far from the tourist areas and gated communities; it is a rugged and often overlooked area of uncommon beauty where people still retain a strong sense of individualism and a pioneering spirit. Second, I wanted to write a character-driven story where the lines between good and evil became blurred.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
My fiction writing began with “The Legend of Bill D. Bangart”, a ten-page adventure western when I was five years old. I always enjoyed telling stories and have a love of language. As a young reader, I was particularly struck by the deliberate and insistent rhythms of Edgar Allan Poe and his manipulation of language.
What are you reading now?
I usually have a few books going at the same time. Right now they are: Zeitoun by Dave Eggars, Brooklyn by Colm Toiban, and White Apples and the Taste of Stone, selected poems by Donald Hall.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why
James Lee Burke for the imagery and poetry of his writing; John Irving and Robertson Davies for their celebration of character; Hammond Innes for his ability to show a story as well as tell it. I read and enjoy most genres … fiction/non-fiction/mystery/history… I don’t usually read sci-fi, fantasy or romance.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
My next book will be set in a small town and the sudden unexplained death of a young woman. It will deal with the workings of wealth and power in a community and the effects of suspicion and deceit on the people who live there. Some writers like to set their stories in large cities, but I tend to prefer small towns and to explore the value of shared experiences they afford.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
First, in my experience, completing a first draft represents only ten percent of the work; the rest is rewriting, editing, and rewriting, etc.
Second, make sure you have other people edit and suggest changes to your work, and they need to be people you don’t know.
Third, write something every single day, even if it’s bad.
What are you doing to promote your latest book?
As I do with every release, I conduct multi-city tours at bookstores and libraries. I’ve appeared in several radio interviews and recently engaged a publicist who is helping me with social media (blogs, tweets and more … which is all quite new to me).
Disturbing the Peace has already been nominated for several awards, including making it into the second round of Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award. The two gold medals for Mill Town certainly had a very positive impact in terms of publicizing my work, and I look forward to seeing what develops with Disturbing the Peace. (In 2009, Mill Town was awarded a fiction gold medal at the Independent Publishers Book Awards in New York and the gold medal in fiction from the Florida Publishers Association.)
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?
I communicate with readers through Facebook (P.D. LaFleur – Award Winning Mystery Author) and Twitter (pdlafleur).