A native son of Massachusetts, Peter has been living in the Deep South for over 25 years. By day, he’s an insurance professional, saving the world one policy at a time. But at night, well, no one really wants to see him fighting crime in his Spider-Man onesie. Instead, Peter develops new worlds of adventure, influenced by his love of science fiction, mysteries, music and fantasy. Whether it’s running role-playing games for his long-time friends, watching his beloved New England sporting teams, or just chilling with a movie, his wife, two boys, one puppy and three cats, Peter’s imagination is always on the move. It’s the reason why his stories are an eclectic blend of intrigue, excitement, humor and magic, all drawn from four decade’s worth of television, film, novels, and comic books. You can learn more about Peter and his writing projects at peterhartog.com, or send him a tweet @althazyr.
CONNECT WITH PETER
Welcome to SPFM, Peter! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Unassuming, amiable, generous
Summarize your book, BLOODLINES, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
- All of The Varkas Chronicles by Deck Matthews – classic high fantasy in the vein of Terry Brooks. Easy to read novellas with the right blend of heroes, villains, magic, intrigue, suspense and expressive writing. Brings me back to the 80s when I really devoured fantasy novels.
- Legacy of the Brightwash by Krystle Matar – brilliant characterization full of pathos, passion, heart and soul, Krystle does a masterful job in this Gaslamp fantasy filled with intrigue and romance.
- Goodbye to the Sun by Jonathan Nevair – wonderful science fiction that reads like a Greek tragedy (the author says he was inspired by Antigone). Not only is his writing expressive, but Jonathan really brings home the internal struggle of the two main characters in a very believable and relatable fashion despite the space operatic backdrop.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
FAVORITE PART – the freedom to do what I want, how I want, and not be beholden to some corporate entity dictating to me what I should edit or omit. Self-publishing allows for freedom of expression and ideas, and the ability to explore concepts without constantly looking over my shoulder to ask for permission or forgiveness.
LEAST FAVORITE PART – marketing. I’m one lone micron in a universe of books. I don’t have an unlimited budget to dedicate to shouting my books from the highest mountaintop. I don’t have the international contacts to penetrate those marketplaces. And while I’ve read a lot about what I can do, it still relies upon word-of-mouth and the hope that my cover draws the eye, my product description tugs at the heart and mind, and then my writing sends a reader down the rabbit hole. No matter what anyone says or tries to sell you, there is no silver bullet to this. It’s a lot of trial-and-error, and even more luck. And I’m not particularly good at it.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I chose to self-publish because I’m not in my 20s…or 30s…or even 40s. I got tired of the 50+ rejections that I’d endured prior to publishing BLOODLINES. And I’m not getting any younger. I don’t have the benefit of youth and I didn’t feel like waiting for lightning to strike, if it ever would. I wrote a story I felt would be well-received by a large audience and decided to take the plunge. As I answered previously, self-publishing grants me the freedom to write the story and characters the way I want. So why not now?
How did you know you wanted to write this genre?
Actually, I had no idea I was going to write something like this. I started and never finished two different high fantasy novels. That’s what I cut my teeth on back in the 70s and 80s. You know some of the usual suspects—Tolkien, Moorcock, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Ursula Le Guin—the list goes on and on like a Journey song. I’m still an avid tabletop role-player, with tons of D&D campaigns under my belt. I adore high fantasy…yet I couldn’t seem to write it beyond just notes for a D&D game.
But then I was forced to grow up in a hurry. I got divorced in 2000, then the events of 9/11 the following year, and both irrevocably changed my worldview. I tried my hand at more high fantasy writing, and it all fell flat. Years passed, and while I still developed sword and sorcery D&D campaigns (or played in them), my writing never went beyond that.
Then, one day in 2013, I was incredibly bored at work. I had nothing to do (my business cycle gets very slow in the summer) and didn’t feel like staring dull-eyed at my monitor. I popped open a Word document and started scribbling a quick story about a private dick in a post-apocalyptic Boston (I’m originally from Massachusetts). I made it to the end of the first chapter, then shelved it. I’d run out of steam, but not out of ideas.
So I decided to develop a different kind of story and foist it upon my unsuspecting RPG crew. I wanted to run a game that had magic, but in a technologically more advanced city. It wasn’t Shadowrun, but my own unique blend that pitted the advanced against, and side-by-side with, the occult. Eventually, Empire City and the Special Crimes Unit was born. And the ideas just kept coming. Since then, I’ve run three successful “cases” for this group. That’s when I knew I needed to novelize their adventures. And the rest is rock n’ roll history.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
It’s a tie.
Professional cover art. I used Lance Buckley Designs for both covers, and they each captured the atmosphere and fell of BLOODLINES and PIECES OF EIGHT. When Book 3 is finished, and as long as Lance is still in business, I’ll get another cover done by him.
Professional editing, specifically developmental editing. A good editor can clean up the mistakes that you’ll normally miss. But a great editor will pull the story together in a way that you hadn’t even considered. BLOODLINES is so much better after my editor worked her magic. I learned so much from my editor for BLOODLINES, that I carried those lessons forward into PIECES OF EIGHT.
Give a shoutout to a fellow author.
To Leigh Grissom, author of The Eden Evolution series (www.amazon.com/author/leighgrissom). Not only is she my sister-from-another-mister, she’s been one of my staunchest supporters during my fledgling writing journey. Leigh is the kind of friend you want by your side when shit gets real. She’s a good-hearted person, an excellent writer (just read KLS-9 and you’ll see), and one of my favorite people out there in social media. Read her stories and give her a follow on Twitter (@iamthecritic).
Which one of your characters would win in a lightsaber fight?
Hands down, Deacon Kole. He is skilled in a variety of hand-to-hand combat and weapon techniques. He could take on any Jedi, especially if his cause is just, because, as he would say, “I don’t fuck around. Besides, none of that Jedi mind shit would work on me anyway.”
If BLOODLINES were made into a movie, which actors would play your MC(s)?
This is always a fun question, and I have the damnedest time answering it.
Detective Tom “Doc” Holliday – Adrien Brody. He’s from New York (Queens), so he already has the accent. He’s the right height (a hint above 6 feet), tall and thin. He’s got the half-Jewish background and seems like a decent guy.
Deacon Kole – Norman Reedus. ‘Nuff said.
Leyla – Hailee Steinfeld. She is a versatile actress who can handle both comedy and drama in equal measures. She does tough and vulnerable, and that’s Leyla.
Besim Saranda – Tilda Swinton. She brings the right level of calm, cool, aristocrat and intelligence, as well the gravitas needed to be something that treads the line between human and something else entirely.
Tell us what lies ahead for you.
I’m currently working on THE DEVIL’S SHARE, Book 3 of the Guardian of Empire City. The series doesn’t end with that one. I plan on writing several more stories for Holliday and the Special Crimes Unit. Empire City has captured my imagination. Until another idea steals my creative stage, Empire City is where I can be found.
About BLOODLINES (The Guardian of Empire City #1)
Those dark and terrible things from your nightmares are VERY real.
They walk among us, masquerading as your neighbor, your lover, even your friend. You see, Empire City is full of them…if you only know where to look. How do I know this? Well, for starters the name is Detective Tom Holliday. I work homicide for Special Crimes. My friends, what few I have, call me Doc.
And the other reason?
I’ve got magic of my own.
Welcome to Empire City, where magic and technology co-exist, and humanity endures behind walls of stone and spell-forged steel. A place where danger lurks around every street corner, and anything is possible.
When former hotshot homicide detective Tom “Doc” Holliday is recruited to join Special Crimes, he trades in his boring desk job for a second chance to do what he does best: hunt down killers.
And his first case doesn’t disappoint—a murdered woman with a bogus past, her body drained of blood, and two eyewitnesses wasted on the designer drug goldjoy claiming a vampire did it. Armed with a fickle clairvoyance and saddled with a team whose past is as checkered as his own, Holliday embarks upon an investigation through a dystopian landscape filled with bio-engineered vampires, interdimensional shadow parasites, and the magical masterminds behind it all.
But to solve this murder and safeguard his city, Holliday will have to uncover the truth behind an ancient shadowy conspiracy and confront a destiny he never wanted.