Peter Cowlam had IT training at the Control Data Corporation and studied Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts. He has worked in IT and as a freelance writer, editor and indexer.
Peter’s writing career began as doodles in the margins of his Pure and Applied Maths papers while at sixth form college, and since then he has had plays performed at the Barbican Theatre, Plymouth and by the Dartington Playgoers. His short fiction and poetry have been published extensively in print and online journals in the UK and internationally. Peter has won prizes for short fiction and critique, and has twice won the Quagga Prize for Literary Fiction, in 2015 and 2018. The latter was for his novel New King Palmers, which is at the intersection of old, crumbling empires and new digital agglomerates.
Q: Do you have a favourite quote? (From a book, film, song, speech…)
A: I liked Virginia Woolf’s take on gender and identity issues, and her handling of the point in her novel Orlando where Orlando transforms from a man to a woman. I cannot quote it exactly, but it is very well done and worth looking up. In fact I would recommend the whole novel.
Q: Is there a book that you keep going back to, and if so, how many times have you read it?
A: Hermann Hesse’s Peter Camenzind, probably because as a child I spent time in the German-speaking world (that part of Switzerland), and it resonated. Numerous reads.
Q: What is the least interesting part of writing for you?
A: I like all aspects of it: the initial conception; the first burst of enthusiasm on putting pen to paper (figuratively); the endless revisions, where the original vision at last takes shape.
Q: What superpower would you like to have and why?
A: The ability to stop men making war, and distribute the world’s goods more equably.
Q: If you could teleport yourself anywhere, real or fictional, where would it be and why?
A: Middlemarch. The formation of all we know in modern English social life is there.
And I can tell you, Commissioner, I also had notice of this Englishman’s offences against the state. The concierge at the Leanne Aura Hotel reported his arrival, tired from travel, yes, but already bad tempered at ‘how you do things here’, as he put it. It seems he misread signs at the central station, and …