Introducing Peter Holz whose story, Cat’s Eye, appears in Fusion. Peter graduated from veterinary school in 1987. He spent the following 25 years trying to turn himself into a zoo/wildlife veterinarian, while travelling the world, getting married and having two kids, only to realize that he was in fact a frustrated writer and not a veterinarian at all.
Luckily for sci-fi fans, Peter chose to enter the Fantastic Books Publishing sci-fi & fantasy short story competition. How did he feel to know he was on the shortlist for publication? He tells me, ‘You could have knocked me over with a feather. Like most writers I have had so many rejections that if a story is accepted it always comes as a wonderful surprise. My only real motivation was the chance to be published.’
He saw publication alongside award-winning writers as a huge positive, adding, ‘People might accidentally think that my writing is as good as theirs.’
No accident, Peter! It’s a great story.
Like all the shortlisted authors, he worked with the Fantastic Books editorial team to polish his story for publication. How did he find the process? He says, ‘The editorial comments were incredibly useful. As the author I am probably far too close to a story to be able to view it objectively. An outside editor has the power to point out obvious flaws that I would never see. If these flaws exist in one piece then they likely exist in other stories I have written too, so it will hopefully lead to my writing becoming stronger overall.’
What would Peter recommend as a compelling read? ‘My favourite book is quite possibly The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, but I am also a huge fan of The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. If I could ever manage to write something half as good as those then I would die happy.’
Now I ask Peter to get into the shoes of an alien space scout who has discovered Earth and learnt its history. How would he advise his people? He says, ‘I would certainly recommend that my people contact Earth. They should do it cautiously, as the Earth people can be a bit irrational, but the opportunity to meet new people, visit new places and learn new things should always be embraced.’
An appropriate sentiment from a writer!
What Peter is writing at the moment turns out to have more to do with his day job, though I suspect this is an area rich in ideas for a sci-fi writer. He tells me, ‘My current writing project is a veterinary one producing wildlife disease fact sheets. If you want to learn all about toxoplasmosis, chlamydiosis, spironucleosis, or any other –osis that takes your fancy go to http://www.wildlifehealth.org.au/FactSheets.aspx.’
If you want to see more of Peter’s fiction, you can find him in Short and Twisted2008, and The Rhino With Glue-on Shoes, which he describes as ‘a book of short stories written by more veterinarians who think they are writers.’
I’m hooked and I’m off to take a look. Thank you, Peter.