Peter Emina has done many different things since he was born in the curiously named ‘General Lying In Hospital’, next to Westminster Bridge, in the middle of the last century. However if you had paid a visit to his childhood home in Dulwich, South London and asked that classic question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” he would not have said “I want to be an author.” Back then his life was filled with old style boy’s adventure stories; his heroes were ‘real men’ who always had a witty remark on hand as their burning plane plunged 30,000 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. For some reason that made him want to be a pilot too….only later did he discover that he hated flying.
If he had to pick the most significant event in his early life he would say it was at 18 when he left home and moved into a house share with a bunch of arty creative types headed up by a pre-Roxy Music Brian Eno. Although he wasn’t sure what he was going to do in the future, just one week in that house convinced him it would not be a 9-5 job. Since then he has, among other things, painted murals in the West Midlands; traded emeralds in the Zambian bush; produced and directed over a hundred TV programmes; and interviewed people as diverse as Nelson Mandela, David Bowie and Tom Hanks; but now he leads a quiet life taking British bands to Japan.
A few years ago, while traveling through LA Airport he bought a book with a great title: The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno. That book is the only book he’s read twice. This may be because he reads very slowly and often stops reading a book for a week or so ‘to give things a chance to happen.’ He has the same attitude to writing and rarely knows what is going to happen as he writes. “I’m really just observing and describing what’s happening with the people in the story. If you stay and watch them all the time they get self-conscious and shy, then nothing happens...the characters stand around looking embarrassed. I find if you leave them alone for a few days and come back they’ll have been up to all sorts of stuff I could never have imagined and then there’s a lot more to write about.”
There is one sentence in Lyra and the Adventure of the Flying Fish that took him three days to write. It is, of course, fairly obvious which one that was.
Currently, Peter is writing a new adventure for Lyra and W.Rabbit as well as trying to finish another children’s book he started writing for his first child Seb when he was seven. Seb is now thirty-three.
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