Author Interview: Peter Watt

A huge thank you to the team at Pan Macmillan Australia for giving me this awesome opportunity to interview Australian Author Peter Watt and of course, a big thank you to Peter himself for taking some of his time to answer the questions!

I absolutely adored Peter’s first installment in his Ian Steele series, The Queen’s Colonial and its successor, The Queen’s Tiger, left me itching for a 3rd novel! I’m so looking forward to things unveiling themselves in the next book, it’s bound to be brilliant!

Now, onto the interview! I have italicized Peter’s answers accordingly.

Enjoy ☺️

Hi Peter, it’s an absolute joy to interview you! Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions! I absolutely loved and devoured The Queen’s Colonial and The Queen’s Tiger!

1. Can you please tell me a bit (or a lot!) about the inspiration to write the story of Ian Steele and Samuel Forbes? I think the fact that they bear such a remarkable resemblance to one another is brilliant, of course – and you can definitely say that both of their lives aren’t quite the same after they switch identities!
There’s such a parallel between both Ian and Samuel, too – how did you differentiate their voices? Throughout both The Queen’s Colonial and The Queen’s Tiger, it does become clear that Ian especially is not the same, with him feeling as if Ian Steel is long dead and that he feels as if he’s truly Samuel Forbes!

Peter Watt:
It has been said that some where in the world we have an identical double. But that does not mean that double has an identical personality. At the time, colonials were not considered to be suitable as commissioned officers in the British army. George Washington of American fame was not able to be commissioned as a British officer prior to the revolutionary war and I think that King George came to regret that later. So, Samuel and Ian are very different to each other in nature and yet share a love for books and learning. Growing up on a soldier settler farm in the 1950’s I was surrounded by men who had returned from war and, as a kid, I just thought all young men should serve for a period of their lives in the armed forces. Hence, I enlisted in the Australian Army in 1969 for a 3 year period. Guess a little of my own past influenced this story.

2. I was quite pleased with Alice’s storyline throughout The Queen’s Tiger, especially her taking that very brave step and helping out the wounded whilst her Surgeon husband Peter is recovering and unable to tend to the wounded- may I ask what inspired you to lead her down that path?
(I mean, she performs amputations! It’s so commendable that she stepped in to literally save lives, especially when during this time even the mere notion of a woman even desiring to be a Surgeon is frowned upon?!).

Peter Watt:
Alice is one of my favourite characters. Whilst researching memoirs etc of the period of the 1850’s in Victorian England I kept coming across just how chauvinistic were the attitudes of the time. This was reflected in the professed attitudes that women were not emotionally and physically capable of being trained as doctors – let alone surgeons. But researching further on battled field medical procedures I learned from memoirs of army surgeons how relatively easy and simple were amputations of limbs. I describe such operations in The Queen’s Tiger but do not advocate trying it at home on friends and relatives. Hence, I was able to put Alice in the scenes where she is forced by dire circumstances to save soldier’s lives. A total vindication of the competence of Victorian England as she has as we see in The Queen’s Colonial led a sheltered and gentile life in the parlours of London as a typical up per class young lady. The Indian Mutiny forces her into a totally different world. She is truly The Queen’s Tiger.

3. It’s made quite clear that Charles utterly loathes his brother in The Queen’s Colonial, and in The Queen’s Tiger, this is just elevated to a whole new level of obsession and sheer hate! I feel like Charles just has all of the wicked in his bones, I mean, he doesn’t think twice about killing anyone that may even be connected with Samuel in the slightest! And he scorns his Father for mourning his own younger brother’s death! What was the motivation to make Charles so cruel?

Peter Watt:
The character of Charles heavily influenced by my past as a police officer in NSW dealing with criminals. I was exposed to sociopaths during my time with homicide and also in my day to day dealings with some very vicious criminals. You quickly learn that they are highly dangerous. Too many times I would see them in a court professing their remorse and fooling the public. When they walked out they would be laughing at how gullible the public is in believing their show of remorse. My experience of convicting these sociopaths influenced the character of Charles. I guess I could relate many stories of the real Charles Forbes I knew as a cop but not enough space in this interview.

4. I understand, Peter, that you’ve had such a colourful and varied career! And you’re such a prolific writer, too! Although I’ve only discovered your work recently, I’m definitely excited to read more of your books, but what I do wonder is you must have so many stories from your professional career, but what truly inspired you to become a Writer?

Peter Watt:
Maybe dysfunctional would better describe my past. As a seven- year old driving a tractor ploughing fields on our farm I would have to amuse myself in the day long shifts. I would amuse myself by making up stories in my head to describe the dusty and noisy world around me – it might be a hare fleeing into scrub or a dust devil in the area I had just ploughed. At home we had a radio and a lot of those cheap cowboy novels. The radio plays would create a world one imagined and entertained. The cheap cowboy novels could be read at leisure. The colourful people around me recently returned from war and their lives as struggling farmers all influenced me to want to write. So, like so many other authors I would write short stories of adventure. After school I felt that I had to experience the adventure I wrote about and this led me into my dysfunctional life that often has been living on the edge. Now, as a volunteer bush fire fighter I still find amongst my family of volunteers the same experiences of physical courage, emotional responses and the camaraderie that only those on the edge understand.

5. Something I always am curious to know, Peter, is what Authors enjoy reading…so, tell me, what have you read and enjoyed lately? What are you looking forward to reading?

Peter Watt:
I grew up on the novels of such authors as James A Mitchener, Leon Uris and may others. Today, I read Ken Follent, Wilbur Smith and above all, Bernard Cornwell. I once had dinner with Wilbur Smith and asked over the baked chicken who his favourite author was and he also nominated Bernard Cornwell. I also read other genres outside of historical action, adventure, romance but find fantasy a bit boring. Alas, many of the touted crime novels that are best sellers are also boring. As a former police officer I find them to be total fantasy when compared to the reality of real investigations.

Thank you so much Peter, for taking the time to answer these questions, much appreciated! 🙂
As most people only buy books written by people who have been in the media my heart felt thanks for your very kind words of support in this interview.

Don’t forget! You can add The Queen’s Colonial on Goodreads here:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41086594-the-queen-s-colonial

And its sequel, The Queen’s Tiger:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/46734994-the-queen-s-tiger

And I’ll just finish by saying I’m honestly so excited that I’ve discovered Peter Watt’s writing! I cannot wait to read his previous novels! He just captures the horrors of war so vividly and gives his characters such strong voices!

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn.

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