Teaching, Family & Writing

Peter became a teacher in 1975, working with the English Department of Collingwood School in Peckham, South London.  He continued to act and sing in school and amateur productions – Joseph in Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Father in Hansel and Gretel, The Judge in Trial by Jury and Falke in Pink Champagne (the ‘easy’ version of Die Fleidermaus).  He also continued writing.  His first novel, The Action, did not find a publisher but it did find an agent – David Higham Associates.  His second novel, Killer, was sufficiently successful for him to take a sabbatical from teaching, put down a deposit on a flat and go to the Isle of Man – where his parents had now retired – to write his next book.  Catastrophe One was a catastrophe in more ways than one.  It was never completed.  Instead Peter began work on The Dead, a huge vampire story.  His publishers accepted it but felt that lengthy, complex generation-spanning vampire stories would never catch on.  He edited it down from 250,000 words to 75,000 and retitled it The Journal of Edwin Underhill.  Soon after its publication An Interview With The Vampire was released.  A lengthy, complex generation-spanning vampire story that became a huge best-seller.  In the meantime, Peter had met Charmaine May, a graduate of Winkfield Place, then the only cookery school in England recognised by the Ecole Cordon-Bleu in Paris.  They married on the first day of spring, 1980 and moved back to their flat in London.  Peter returned to teaching and for a while made that his main priority, working at Collingwood, Hatcham Wood and eventually Haberdashers’ Askes’s Hatcham Boys’ School, becoming Head of English and Deputy Head of Sixth Form.  At Aske’s he directed Macbeth, An Inspector Calls and Arnold Ridley’s The Ghost Train; The Gondoliers and Iolanthe by Gilbert and Sullivan and La Belle Helene by Offenbach.  In spite of the amount of time his commitments at school took, Peter completed his next novel, The Coffin Ship in 1988 and it was published in 1989.  It drew on his experience of the Persian Gulf and was researched in London and Europoort in Holland with the assistance of BP.  And so the Richard Mariner series began.

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Peter as best man at his brother Simon’s wedding 1989.

In 1990 Peter and Charmaine moved to Sevenoaks in Kent to start a family.  Peter became Head of English and Director of Post-16 Provision at The Wildernesse School, Sevenoaks.  His writing career fell into a regular pattern, even after the birth of his sons Guy and Mark.  Peter published a novel a year for the next decade.  When one publisher felt they had accepted sufficient Mariner novels, another publisher stepped forward.  In 2000 Peter finished the last Mariner action/adventure (for the time-being) and wrote the first Historical Murder-mystery The Point of Death. Both were published in 2001.  Three more Historical mysteries followed before the Richard Mariner series was resumed, by popular demand.  And Peter continued to produce on average one book a year.  By now, Peter was not only Head of English and Post-16 Provision, he was also Head of Law, Examiner at Advanced Level in Law for the OCR – Oxford and Cambridge exam board – and Assistant Head Teacher.  He also delivered a vocational course (to A Level equivalent) in Public Services, training his students in the vocational skills required to join the Armed Forces, the Fire Service, the Ambulance Service and the Police.  He retired from The Wildernesse School in 2009.

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