Interview with R.W. Peake

R.W. Peake is the author of the amazing and awe-inspiring novel, Marching with Caesar-Conquest of Gaul. Peake is from Houston, Texas. He currently writes historical fiction. Recently, Peake provided BZ Hercules with an interview, describing his novel (available here, on Smashwords, and Amazon), his inspirations and influences, and what he would like his readers to take away from the words he writes.

Provide us with a summary of your written work.

There's my written, and my published work. My first published book is Marching With Caesar-Conquest of Gaul, a first-person account, written in the form of a memoir of Titus Pullus, Legionary of Rome. Titus is one of the lucky few men to survive a 42 year career in the Legions, rising to the highest rank available to a ranker by the time of his retirement. Now, he is looking back on that career, which covered the most tumultuous 40 year period of Roman history, starting with Caesar's Conquest of Gaul.

How do you decide what to write?

I've been interested in Roman history ever since I took a class taught by Dr. Frank Holt at the University of Houston. After reading all the classics and scholarly works, I moved onto the genre of fiction, starting with Colleen McCullough's epic series, which I enjoyed immensely. Then I found Simon Scarrow's great Macro and Cato series, but what bothered me is that there weren't any stories written about men in the ranks during the time of Caesar. Everything I found was done from the perspective of the "movers and shakers" of the time, and not the "grunt", the guy whose strong right arm made all these changes possible. That was how Marching With Caesar was born.

What inspires you to write?

I don't know, really. I guess I've always been a storyteller; it must be the Welsh and Irish in me. I wrote my first "novel" when I was 10, about the Soviet horde choosing to invade MY street, and how all my friends and I repelled the Godless Communists singlehandedly.

Honestly, I am in awe of the power of words. I look at each word as a number in an incredibly complex combination lock. Put them in the right sequence and you can unlock any secret, win any heart, or gain riches beyond the wildest imagining.

I am, and always have been, an observer of the world around me, and I see stories everywhere, waiting to be told.

Who designed the covers?   

Marina Shipova

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The most challenging thing for me is to keep my Yellow Lab Sadie from sprawling across the keyboard. Otherwise, I have no problems.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Tough one. Stephen King's The Stand I still consider to be one of the best works in modern fiction. But if I had to pick one author who impacted me the most, it would be Louis L'Amour. I began reading him when I was 12, and not only did I enjoy it, he had a huge impact on my philosophy of life. Growing up without a dad, I had to find a male figure for a role model, and starting with Will Reilly in Reilly's Luck, to Tell Sackett, L'Amour's characters did that for me.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?      

Not really. Other than me. :-)

Seriously, I am pretty picky when it comes to my reading habits, so I tend to go back to those authors I have learned to trust.

What established authors have influenced your work?

Colleen McCullough, obviously. Bernard Cornwell and his Sharpe series. Simon Scarrow. Conn Iggulden, but in a different way. He taught me that if you write well enough and tell a compelling story, that you can slaughter the historical underpinnings to a story in a way that the reader will forgive. As much as I enjoyed reading his books, I chose the opposite path.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

My goal in this series of books is twofold; the first is obviously to tell a story people will enjoy. But more than that, I want to convey to people the timelessness of what it means to serve in the military of one's country. I am a retired Infantry Marine, and one thing I have learned is that the lot of today's "grunt" is not very different than that of Titus' time. Being the pointy tip of your nation's foreign policy tends to distill one's concerns and needs down to the most basic. And the most basic component of life in the military is friendship, of a kind that runs so deeply that it's impossible for those who have never been there to truly understand.

I hope that reading about Titus and his friends and what they go through will bring that home.

How about a link to your book?

What are your most effective methods of promotion?     

I used Facebook to promote interest initially. I'm now at a point where the momentum seems to be building due to word of mouth. I also pass out cards with the cover and information.

But I'm all ears as far as other methods.

Do you have any other works?

Not yet.