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Peter Brooks

Agent: Stu Bronstein of San Francisco
Glendale, California, United States

Email: pgqbrooks@gmail.com

Home page: http://baldfatgit.wordpress.com

My first exposure to creative writing came when I was 10 or younger. A question on
an exam known as the Ten Plus in the UK provided a couple of sentences forming
the basis of a story, and asked the pupil to continue that story, using their own
imagination.

I don't remember what I wrote but I do recall being told that my answer was the
most creative and imaginative of the group that took the exam.

I really started writing creatively when I was about 11 - some 50 years ago. For 15
years or so I generated short stories, mini-scripts (at most three pages of typed A4)
and sketches, almost all revolving around escapades with my friends - as viewed by
me - and compiled them into a huge folder.

In my late 20s I reviewed the huge folder, decided it was all crap, and destroyed it.
Not one of my better decisions...

Then I moved on with my life, which at the time involved working as a medical
research technician in the UK's National Health Service, with technical writing an
important part of it, but Computing becoming the main focus.

I was commissioned to write a book for Castle House (Micro Press), and
"Mastering the TI-99" was published in 1984. (That commission arose because a
friend - Paul Dicks - was approached first but didn't have the time to undertake the
task, so he referred the publisher to me. Just in case you thought I was first
choice...)

Unfortunately for me, Texas Instruments - the maker of the TI-99 - pulled out of the
home computer business shortly before the book came out, which didn't help the
sales much.

But along the way I managed to do some investigative journalism for Computer and
Software Retailing (now that was fun!), wrote a few letters and a couple of articles
that were published (in Personal Computer World and Nature, among others),
undertook software reviews (Home Computing Weekly), read and reviewed a dozen
manuscripts for my publisher, and accepted every invitation by my editor to write
another Mastering book (he would provide the hardware) - but nothing ever
transpired.

My publisher then pulled out of the computing publishing business, dashing my
plans to write another four TI books.

A few years later I pulled out of medical science and dove into computing science,
but didn't stray far from the medical field. After a hiccup while I worked briefly as a
motorcycle courier (and got done for speeding - over 100 mph on the M25) I went to
work as a "Creative Programmer" for an interactive video company, developing
software and graphics for an information workstation that was intended to be the
leading edge resource for information on Interferon (you may remember it as the
"magic bullet" for all kinds of fatal illnesses).

Among the graphics I produced were an animation of DNA replication, another of
chromosomal translocation, and a symbolic representation of an Interferon
molecule. It was extremely enjoyable work but it did a number on my eyesight.

The company went kaput and I ended up spending quite some time looking for
another contract. Eventually I went back to work for the NHS, but this time for the
Unit of Clinical Epidemiology as a Programmer / Statistician.

From there I transferred to a post with the University of Oxford's Department of
Public Health and Primary Care, which became my last position in the UK:
Computing Officer with the University of Oxford's Health Services Research Unit.
You'll find my name as co-author on at least three reports produced by that unit.

Through that position I gained access to what soon became the Internet, and
through the 'Net I eventually met - and married - Casey, the love of my life. We
celebrated our nineteenth anniversary in August 2014.

Marrying Casey meant relocating to Los Angeles in the USA - for various reasons -
and entering a period of uncertain employment that still isn't over (more than
fourteen contracts in fifteen years, each one usually ending because of the
employer's financial problems - I have never been fired).

During roughly half of that time I concentrated initially on the computing science
aspect, but after a few years it became obvious that a writing career was a better
choice (better opportunities, even better income) and so I switched the emphasis to
Technical Writing.

Through all of this I had not considered a career as a creative writer, which is odd
when you recall how many years I spent doing just that as a hobby.

From 1999 onwards I began to make the first serious attempt to establish myself
as a professional creative writer. I'm reading, and learning, and thinking, and
developing, and being alternately inspired and depressed by the successes and
failures of others who have chosen a similar path.

I have no idea whether I will succeed. I have faith and confidence in my abilities,
which seem to be the first requirements for any creative writer.

Without those there can be no real commitment - no belief in one's self, so no
perseverance.

I realise that to attempt to write an award-winning screenplay at the first attempt
would be folly of the first order :).

So my sights are set a little lower: a variety of story concepts (one of the latest
being a proposed sequel to Gladiator (2000), based on research into the period).

I have work in progress, some of which reached the semi-finals of a quarterly
WriteSafe Present-a-thon (now alas defunct); in fact, quite a few of my concepts
have managed to get that far, so I feel I'm driving in the right direction. I have around
thirty further main ideas and a couple of dozen subplots to support them, so there's
plenty of meat left on the bone.

I have also placed entries in fiction and non-fiction writing competitions, to further
test my skills and abilities. I won First Prize in the 2002 Write Thinking 24 Hour
Creative Writing Competition with a 2000 word piece entitled "So Long And Thanks
For All The Pancakes" (viewable on my StoryLines website - http://www.story-
lines.com/stories/HitchHikersGuideToTheRecipes/index.html).

I was also hopeful that one of five non-fiction short stories - entitled "Holiday
Magic", "The Last Banana", "Under Cover Job", "Punting As A Water Sport" and
"Scattering Ashes" - might do well in the Sixth TooWrite Competition in the UK
(these are also viewable on StoryLines), but alas they were easily beaten by others
recounting personal tragedies orders of magnitude more impactful than mine.

I do have ideas for movies - a score or more of them - that seem to be workable as
far as the concepts go (or so I have been told by more experienced scriptwriting
friends), but I need and want to learn to walk first before I try running. Evidence of
my first steps can be found at my creative writing website, StoryLines (not that I'm
plugging it, you understand :)).

Some of my material was registered exclusively with WriteSafe - usually when it
had passed the draft concept phase - but that site is now no more, sadly. But I still
maintain the records.

Having obtained representation (Stuart A Bronstein of San Francisco) the stage is
set for the next scene - whatever that may turn out to be.

For now my bread and butter derives from my technical writing/editing abilities,
which earn me up to five times as much as they would in the UK. I am not
expecting - or looking for - fame overnight or riches beyond imagination. I enjoy
transferring ideas from one place to another - usually from my head to paper or the
Web - and I would like the opportunity to transfer ideas from my head to a slightly
different audience, whether through ghost writing books, writing my own novels,
writing for a TV sitcom, TV movie, or for something on The Big Screen.

And be paid for it, naturally. We all have houses to run, families to support, bills to
settle :)

In addition to my writing I'm also presently intrigued by the DoraBella Cipher - a
secret message sent over 100 years ago by Sir Edward Elgar, the composer, to a
young friend of the family.

More by good fortune than by academic skill or professional knowledge I have
managed to shake some sense out of the thing, and while I haven't decrypted the
entire message (or in fact two messages, as I now realise it to be - one in Latin,
one in English) I know what steps I must take if a complete solution is to be
achieved. The problem is finding the time to take those steps!

I'm hopeful that this year will see a completion of that work - although I've been
saying that for several years...

As a direct result of the investigations I have undertaken, I am also pursuing a novel
encryption (steganographic) system that is a variant of Rail Fence, which I call
Musical Rail Fence (or MRF). It's not intended to replace public key encryption, but
it's an interesting exercise in analysis and discovery, nonetheless, and it has
potential as a privacy tool. I'm working on it!

And finally, I'm trying to get something tangible out of my grey matter and onto
paper (or PDF) with regard to using Microsoft Word to produce creative graphics. A
work in progress is available for examination through StoryLines, and my work on
the DoraBella Cipher and MRF will be made available similarly in due course.

Interests: Interests: It's hard to find something in which I *don't* have an interest. Gardening, maybe. Oh, and shopping. And Musicals. I have a genetic defect that prevents me from enjoying any of these :)

Published writer: Yes

Freelance: Yes

 

Published works:

Nonfiction

  • Mastering The TI-99
  • Patterns of Referral
  • An Evaluation of Health Interventions...Related to Incontinence: Summary Report
  • An Evaluation of Health Interventions...Related to Incontinence: Volume I, Main Report