Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest William H. Peace author of Seeking Father Khaliq. William was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and attended William Penn Charter School and Phillips Exeter Academy. He graduated from Yale University with a degree in Physics, having minored in English and Creative Writing. He served four years in the U. S. Navy, the last two as Chief Engineer of a destroyer.
Upon completion of his military service, William joined the Power Systems business of Westinghouse Electric Corporation where he progressed through a series of roles culminating in Vice President and General Manager, Synthetic Fuels Division. He then moved to Carrier (air conditioning) Corporation where he was responsible for Carrier’s Europe, Africa and Middle East operations. From Carrier, William transitioned into management consulting, and he had his own successful practice. Currently retired, in addition to his writing, he is a pro bono resource to London charities.
He has written seven published novels: one romance, three thrillers and three spiritual/religious. The latter genre is now his genre of choice. William devotes essentially all of his time (apart from pro bono consulting for London charities) to literary fiction. He particularly enjoys writing about characters in an ethical/moral dilemma.
Norm: How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going?
William: I had taken a writing course at university, and I always enjoyed writing reports in business, but I had never considered myself a writer of fiction. About eight years ago, I was on holiday in Sicily and I had a series of romantic dreams in which I was involved as a bystander. I thought: it would be fun to write these down. I began writing and by the time I got to page 70, I decided to finish it. That was my first novel. Since then, I’ve derived an increasing satisfaction from completing novels which are better and better.
Norm: What do you think most characterizes your writing?
William: There is always at least one character who is facing ethical/moral dilemmas. I try also to give the reader a strong sense that what she is reading is true and real.
Norm: What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
William: What has been most useful is the feedback I have had on my writing. I am also a fairly avid reader, and I always publish a review of the books I read. This sharpens my critical skills which are important when I’m writing. I really can’t think of an experience which has been destructive.
Norm: How many times in your career have you experienced rejection? How did they shape you?
William: Countless times. I received several dozen rejections for my first novel, and I was ready to give up on getting it published when Eloquent Books (the predecessor of my current publisher) came to me with a co-op publishing offer. Since then I have approached about twenty literary agents and publishers for every novel I’ve written; my approaches have been universally rejected (usually politely) or ignored. I’ve stayed with Strategic Book Publishing. My impression is that to get a contract with a traditional, main-stream publisher, one must have a third-party intervention or recommendation. This is an understandable symptom of risk avoidance in the publishing industry, but it also suggests a lack of independent, creative thinking in the industry. My lack of acceptance by main stream publishers has not deterred me. I will carry on writing better and better novels. Someone will almost certainly notice.
Norm: In your bio you indicated that the spiritual/religious genre is your preferred choice. Could you explain to our readers, why?
William: I am a religious person, but not evangelical. The romance and the three thrillers all have religious aspects. I started writing Sable Shadow & The Presence as a kind of experiment, and I had to re-write large portions of it, but, at the end, I felt particularly good about it. Several excellent reviews and being awarded seven minor prizes convinced me that I had found my venue.
Norm: How did you become involved with the subject or theme of Seeking Father Khaliq? As a follow up, have you ever lived in Egypt?
William: Before I started Seeking Father Khaliq, I decided to write about one character’s search for God, but I didn’t want a typically evangelical book. It had to involve a faith other than Christianity and a venue outside the West. Also, the book had to have more issue than a singular focus on spirituality. I’ve never lived in Egypt, but I’ve visited the country several times. In creating Seeking Father Khaliq, I spent as much time on research as I did on writing.
Norm: What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
William: My intention was to leave a gentle message that if one wants to find God, He can be found, and that sometimes He is revealed in the midst of adversity. I think the message is there and perhaps made a bit more interesting by Egypt, philosophy, Islam (good and bad), and the will-of-the-wisp Princess Basheera.
Norm: Do you worry about the human race?
William: Not in the long term. The short term can be a horrendous mess, but somehow we will muddle through.
Norm: How did you go about creating the character of Professor Kareem al-Busiri? (As a passing note, I am married to someone born in Egypt and who lived there until the age of 18, I am familiar with the male Egyptian mindset and you seemed to have vividly captured it).
William: My specifications for Kareem were:
A respected professor of philosophy at a prominent Egyptian university (I wanted to include philosophy to add richness)
He should be a secular Muslim: a sort of agnostic
He should be single to introduce a romantic element
He should be open-minded and a bit naïve (to believe Princess Basheera)
He should have adult children to add complexity
Norm: What are some of the references that you used while researching this book? As a follow up, can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
William: My principal reference was Classical Arabic Philosophy, and Anthology of Sources, by Jon McGinnis (Translation), David C. Reisman (Editor). I spent countless hours on the internet to gather facts, opinions and experiences. I don’t remember their names but I enjoyed vivid personal accounts by pilgrims on the Hajj and Arba’een.
Norm: What was the most difficult part of writing this book and what did you enjoy most about writing this book?
William: The most difficult part was staying factual in detail, down to the specifications of the Russian-made weapon which killed Kalifa. Most satisfying and enjoyable was integrating all the pieces of a complex story.
Did you learn anything from writing the book and what was it?
William: While I have read quite a lot about Islam, and I’ve read the Qur’an, I gained a perspective of Islamic culture, and its effect of the values of people.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and Seeking Father Khaliq?
William: I have BLOG which has been going for six years, and which includes my opinions and experiences as a writer. I’ll let Father Khaliq speak for himself.
Norm: What is next for William Peace?
William: I’m writing another novel, set in East Africa, with three main young adult characters: a penniless man of traditional tribal faith; a middle class, Christian woman; and a Muslim man from a wealthy, prominent family. All are black: there is plenty of interaction and clashes in values and beliefs.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
William: What else does your ‘day job’ consist of?
Because I write with intensity only three or four hours a day, I need ‘alternative occupations’. These include pro bono consulting work for London charities, treasurer of a charity which provides psychotherapy, and involvement with two of our daughters and their families who live nearby.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors