We’re huge fans of Peter Jay Black’s Urban Outlaws series! We’re excited to catch up with them and read the latest book, Counterstrike, which is published by Bloomsbury TODAY. To celebrate, we asked him to take part in 5-4-3-2-1.
5 items of swag you’d love to see made (could be for your own book or someone else’s, or a mix)
1- Spring Shoes. The great thing about being a writer is that I get to make up lots of exciting gadgets. So, out of the Urban Outlaws series so far, I’d have to say Charlie’s homemade “Spring Shoes” would be the ones I’d like to see the most. Another character, Slink, uses them to leap between buildings. They have a special spring inside that stores and releases energy as you run – propelling you forwards at blistering speed!
2- A wand. The only problem is, knowing my luck, a visit to Ollivander’s would prove futile for me. “The wand chooses the wizard, Mr Black.” Yeah, so, what happens if none of them choose me? Are there backup wands for such occasions? Having said that, imagine actually having a wand – all the magic you could do. Brilliant. Mind you, I’d also probably wind up lazier than I am now; lying on the sofa, watching movies and summoning tea and biscuits all day long. “Accio Custard Cream!”
3- A Spaceship. Realistically, I know that space is just that – there’s not much out there. Mainly one giant gap of nothing at all, with the odd lump of something interesting every so often. However, Imagine if our universe was anything like Star Trek, Star Wars, or a million of the great sci-fi books out there? A spaceship would be great for zapping unruly extra-terrestrials, finding millions of ways to break the Prime Directive, and landing on other worlds.
4- A Rocket Pack. Ever since I was a kid, I have always wanted the ability to fly. I used to be fascinated with Superman – I had Superman wallpaper, bedspreads, pillows. A Superman pencil case, pencils, pens. . . Well, you get my point. Another cool person who could fly was Rocketman. So, I would definitely love to have my own rocket pack.
5- A Time Machine. There have been some amazing books and films about time travel – HG Wells’s The Time Machine and Back to the Future, to name just two. I think most people would love to travel in time. I’d like to see the dinosaurs, Ancient Egyptians, the Vikings. . . But, if I had a time machine, the first place I’d go would be an October evening in 1986 (See my answer below in the “2” section for an explanation!).
4 books you’d save from a burning bookcase
1- A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. The book is just fascinating. I consider that I know a fair amount about science, but Mr Bryson’s book delves into some of the lesser known stories and the real people behind them too. I could read it over and over and not get bored. In fact, I have. Captivating stuff.
2- Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling. What’s not to like about the Harry Potter series? Not to mention the films too, but the books are by far my favourite because they are so rich in detail.
3- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It’s my favourite literary classic. I find the story stunning in its execution and a very good read. It’s timeless and, in my own biased opinion, Charles Dickens’ best work.
4- Rendevouz with Rama by Arthur C Clarke. This is my favourite classic Sci Fi novel, which is about a group of astronauts who fly out into space and land on a gigantic alien spacecraft.
3 authors you’d want with you if you were stranded on a desert island
1- Bill Bryson. In fact, if the poor man happened to find himself stranded on a dessert island with me, I’d nag and beg him to write a ‘Short History of Nearly Everything: Part Two” with my help, of course! He’d love it. I thoroughly enjoy science and would equally relish in researching and compiling the new volume for dear Bill. Realistically, I’m pretty sure he’d turn my offer down though, but one can live in hope.
2- JK Rowling. So, once I was done nagging Bill, and being the fair person I am – I’d give the guy a few hours off and start on our dear Harry Potter creator. ‘Okay, Jo,’ I’d say. ‘Mind if I call you Jo? Good. Anyway, how about you get cracking with either a prequel or “further adventures of Harry/his kids” please? Sound good? Brilliant Thanks!’ Alas, truth be told, I think she’d probably decline too.
3- Arthur C Clarke. He was a giant in classic Sci Fi. He’s even said to have thought of ideas before they were invented – like satellites and the internet. But, mainly, he was just a brilliant story-teller and knew a lot about science and astronomy. He’d be a good guy to chat to.
2 pieces of advice you’d give yourself if you could travel back in time to before you became a published author
1- October 1986. Don’t eat the dumplings! My mother, bless her soul, made dumplings from a packet that was THREE YEARS out of date. I was so, very, very sick. It took me another 25 years before I could force myself to eat another one. So my advise that evening would be, “Please don’t eat the dumplings, Pete. Then be a good chap and pay more attention to your English lessons. Ta very much!”
2- Any time between 2005 and 2013 I had to teach myself to write from the ground up. Obviously, I never gave in during those years, but I had some very black (excuse the pun on my last name) times where I thought I’d never make it. So, I’d go back to each of those, give myself some gentle encouragement, and tell myself to just keep going and, “You’ll get there eventually.”
1 song that sum up the last novel you wrote perfectly
1- That’s What Friends Are For – by Dionne Warwick, Steve Wonder, Gladys Knight & Elton John. Writing the last book in the Urban Outlaws series, the main thing I had in my head, above all else was the fact that the team are built on trust and friendship. They’d do anything for each other. They’re not only just good friends, they’re family too and that’s what the entire series has been about.