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Peter Grose - Author

About the Author

Peter Grose is a former publisher at Secker & Warburg, a former literary agent at Curtis Brown, and was until recently the chairman of ACP (UK). He is the author of two highly acclaimed books on WW2.


Author photo © Roslyn Grose


Below is a Q&A with this author.


Q. If you weren’t a writer, what would you like to be?

A. At risk of sounding like myself aged eight, I’d happily be a pilot. I love flying.


Q. Which books do you read for pleasure?

A. My all time favourite is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I’ve read it seven times. At the moment, I’m reading Back To Blood by Tom Wolfe and loving it. And every time I read a Ben Macintyre book, I think: I wish I’d written that. He’s terrific.


Q. What do you do to relax?

A. My favourite moment of the day is about 6:30 in the evening. I close down the computer, pour myself a whisky, mix a caipirinha for my wife, and switch off. I try to keep office hours … I like to be at my desk working by 10:00am, or earlier if I can manage it, and I don’t like to hang about in the office after 6:30. But if I didn’t keep office hours, I’d never get any work done. Sorry, that doesn’t tell you much about how I relax, does it? Well, I like Woody Allen movies, early morning tennis, trad jazz, good food and wine, and travel. I’m the cook in our household, and I find cooking, if not exactly relaxing, then at least a complete switch-off from work.


Q. Besides writing, what else do you do?

A. At the moment, my other preoccupation is learning French. My wife and I moved to France in 2008, and my French is still weak. A fair bit of the research for my last book The Greatest Escape involved reading a mountain of stuff in French. So I combined learning French with writing. Great chunks of my French homework went straight into the book!


Q. Do you miss anything, living in France?

A. In a word, CRICKET. I can’t get it on radio or TV here. I’m a cricket fanatic.


Q. What got you started as a writer?

A. I’ve been around the book trade for over 40 years, first as a literary agent and then as a publisher. Before that I was a journalist. I’m fascinated by stories, and for years I tried to commission some very good writers to do a book on the midget submarine raid on Sydney Harbour in May 1942. None of them would tackle it. So when I retired from publishing I thought: hell, I know it’s a great story, I’ll write it myself. That became A Very Rude Awakening, my first book. It sold pretty well, so the publishers pressed me to write more (not that I took a lot of persuading). That led to An Awkward Truth, about the bombing of Darwin, and now The Greatest Escape, about a French community that hid Jews during World War II.


Q. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?

A. Fingers crossed, but so far so good. I got a bit bogged down a couple of years ago when I thought I was drowning in detail, all of it in French, for The Greatest Escape. But if you stick to the routine of keeping office hours, you can’t just stare out the window all day, you have to do something. And somehow the empty pages get filled with words.


Q. Have you ever been surprised by the reaction to your books?

A. You bet. For me, the biggest surprise and delight was discovering that I had a lot of women readers, maybe even a majority. The first two books were technically military history, and that’s not an area that attracts women. But I tried to stick to the human story rather than write about things that go bang and whoosh, and that seemed to suit women readers. Most of the letters I get are from women.


Q. What next?

A. That would be telling! I’ve got a couple of ideas, neither of them military history, but at the moment I just want to get The Greatest Escape launched and out there. Then I’ll sit on a beach somewhere, probably in Australia early next year, and take some decisions.

Featured books by Peter Grose

Other books by Peter Grose

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