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Cold Coffee Café Spotlight Interview With Author Peter St John

This London-born author has had a varied career beginning, shortly after the Second World War, as a military pilot. On leaving the Royal Air Force, he became a Chartered Engineer working in aerospace research, notably in the development of large rockets to launch space vehicles. This work took him to Woomera in the Australian desert, to four year's residence in Paris and to the newly-established European Space Centre in French Guiana. This pioneering project, called ELDO, came to an end with the withdrawal of Britain in 1971 from the European space programme causing the collapse of ELDO.

The author returned to Australia where, after various interesting activities including the establishment of an enterprise to prepare technical manuals for industry, and a spell as an examiner of patents, he became member of a project management team in the Royal Australian Navy charged with the development and construction of a patrol frigate. The project was well advanced when, like ELDO, it came to an end through Government decision.

It was at this moment that the Australian Senate began recruiting staff for a restructured committee system. On applying for a post, the author found himself appointed Secretary to the Australian Senate Standing Committee on Science and the Environment. Eight years later, after having prepared parliamentary reports on eleven major public inquiries, he was recruited to join the staff of the Australian Science and Technology Advisory Council reporting to the Prime Minister.

During this time he became interested in the work of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, based in Geneva. The Union, established in 1889, works to foster peace through parliamentary action as well as to help strengthen parliamentary democracy throughout the world. Prominent members of the Union have won the Nobel Peace Prize on eight occasions. The author, recruited in 1984 was responsible, amongst other things, for managing the library and supervising the Union's regular publications.

As a writer, he has prepared numerous technical papers and reports including a two-volume reference compendium on the parliaments of the world. Nine novels, and several booklets have also come from his hand.

He now lives in France where, from retirement, he is active in the promotion of creative activities.

He has a son, two grandsons, a great-grandson and a great-granddaughter.



What makes you proud to be a writer from your experience? “Proud” doesn’t seem to be the appropriate word in this context. Let me say, rather, that I find that it is fun to write and draw. I hope that my writings and associated drawings, are also fun for my readers.

What or who inspired you to become a writer? “Inspiration” is a big word for a fun activity. Let’s just say that I enjoy writing, especially when a work is newly finished.

Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage? How could it be otherwise, when writing from one’s head and one’s heart?

When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? In the beginning, I never had any firm intention of becoming published. When I showed my first fictional “fun” piece to some friends, they urged me to find a publisher. After that – well, what’s the use of writing if your work isn’t shared with others?

What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process? My most rewarding experience is sharing the craft of writing with fellow writers.

What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey? If you are asking about monetary reward, then I’m still waiting for it to happen. If you mean "satifying" experience, then all of it is saisfying, except when my first publisher went out of business.

How many published books do you have? I have sixteen published titles, all of them in electronic format. Nine of them are also in paperback. Most of them are illustrated with my own drawings.

Please list the titles of all your books:
Gang Territory
Gang Warfare
Gang Rivalry
Gang Loyalty
Gang Petition
Gang Spies
Gang America
Siberian Summer
Hey God!
Jenno’s Widdlington
Jenno’s Widdlington II
Just Jenno
Jenno’s Facebook
Jenno’s Gangs
Jenno’s Greenhouse
Triple Agent

Do you come up with your title(s) before or after you write the manuscript? The title usually comes early in the writing, particularly if a theme is involved, such as “Gang Loyalty” or "Gang Spies". Occasionally the title is changed or modified several times before publication. My characters have their ideas too, you know, and they don't always (or even often) agree.

Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre: I am always left slightly perplexed when asked about genre. Genre is mainly to help locate books in bookshops, but there is no genre called “Nine to Ninety-nine”. For better or worse, much of my stuff goes under “Historical Fiction” and/or “Young Adult”. My preference is for “Nine to Ninety-nine”. Unfortunately there’s no such shelf in any bookshop I’ve ever been into.

Which book title would you like featured in this interview? How hard it is to choose − I like them all. But since you ask; how about the first in the “Gang” series, “Gang Territory”?

What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for? Please may we be clear? I’m not seeking to promote any one book, but rather to share my writing experience with others. I write from my house, which was formerly a forge. In the heat of writing, the sparks fly. If that is what you call “inspiration”, then I do it just for fun. There are no flashing light bulbs, but sometimes a few “ah-ha” moments, as my characters help to hammer-out the glowing work in progress.

What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? If it isn’t fun, or satisfying in some other way, don’t do it.

Who is your favorite author and why? How difficult to choose just one favorite author, when there are so many. But because you ask − so I must choose. Then let me plump for J.R.R.Tolkien. He weaves a wonderfully intricate fable that keeps the reader spellbound.


The Gang Series

World War II as seen through the “Gang” series The "Gang" series of books tell an ongoing story of children’s gangs and budding love.

When a boy from London finds himself homeless after the orphanage where he lived was bombed, he is bundled off to the countryside to live with his only relative, a pious spinster aunt.

Her village would be a peaceful place to live— or so he imagined...

These stories contain war-time action including air-raids and invasion scares, as well as feuds and contests with rival gangs. Although each book stands alone, a continuing story flows through them.

The series has appeal for both adult and younger readers, and gives an intimate and nostalgic view of the drama of the early part of World War II. Humorous yet thought-provoking, this series explores the difficulties and rewards of forging relationships in traumatic times.


Gang Territory (Book One Of Seven In The Gang Series) Peter St John

In the war-torn autumn of 1940, as Britain faces the imminent threat of invasion, a young lad, bombed out from a London orphanage, arrives in the English village of Widdlington to live with his pious spinster aunt.

He hopes to find a peaceful haven, but instead becomes embroiled in conflict with local gangs of children. Each gang has its own territory, customs and taboos. There’s also the school bully, nicknamed “The Slug”…

The newcomer must either fight “The Slug” or submit to his tyranny.

The young evacuee has already suffered from the air-raids in London. In Widdlington, he struggles to find acceptance, but his aunt is not the easiest person to live with. A sense of belonging may be within reach as he falls in love for the first time. Can this tender relationship survive gang turmoil and his aunt’s opposition?

This exciting and nostalgic story of conflict, relationships and young love is set against the backdrop of social change during the Second World War.



Amazon Review Link
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Gang Warfare (Book Two Of Seven In The Gang Series) Peter St John

Have you ever been blamed for something you didn’t do? Have you ever been caught up in a minor incident that grew into a major conflict?

An orphan, evacuated from the World War II bombing of London, comes to live with his pious aunt in an English village. A bag of sweets is knocked out of his hand in the school playground. This trivial incident has devastating consequences.

The villagers become increasingly quarrelsome. The tension reaches a climax at a fund-raising fête to buy a Spitfire aircraft. This ends in a riotous fight which causes the funds collected for the Spitfire to be last seen floating gently down the river in the twilight and a barrel. In the wake of this disaster, will the villagers be able to resolve their differences?

Although this book follows on from the previous “Gang Territory”, it can stand as a complete story in its own right.



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Gang Rivalry (Book Three Of Seven In The Gang Series) Peter St John

Would you like to go on a treasure hunt? Here’s one with a difference…

A barrel of money, collected at a village fête to raise funds to help buy a Spitfire aircraft, has been lost in the river. Rival gangs compete with each other, and the authorities, to recover it. Three of the gangs are composed of children, but a fourth is made up of adult gangsters

A schoolboy, recently evacuated from a bombed-out London orphanage, becomes involved because of his love for one of the village girls and a promise he has made to her. He lives with a pious spinster aunt, a strict church-goer, who disapproves of his chapel-going girlfriend.

Who can get to the barrel first? Is the hero’s promise to his girlfriend fulfilled? Join in this wartime treasure hunt where air-raids, rationing, and a shot-down German bomber add excitement to a fast-moving plot.



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Gang Loyalty (Book Four Of Seven In The Gang Series) Peter St John

There is consternation in Widdlington village when the girls, fed up with constantly playing second fiddle to the boys, decide to set up their own gang. The new gang is called the “Go-Getter-Girls”. Its leader believes that anything boys can do, girls can do better.

The boys, alarmed at this threat to their formerly secure superiority, do not intend to stand idly by while the girls usurp their traditional supremacy.

Will the girls succeed in imposing a new-found authority, or will the boys overcome this impudent challenge to their masculinity?

The gauntlet is flung down by the girls in the wartime summer of 1941. Britain is facing an epic challenge launched by those who sought to impose a repressive regime aimed at world domination. The two challenges are not entirely unrelated.

We know now the outcome of the Second World War, but what was the result of the contemporaneous conflict of loyalties that went on in Widdlington?



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Gang Petition (Book Five Of Seven In The Gang Series) Peter St John

The Women’s Land Army takes over the Widdlington allotments for a training school, but why should this stir up trouble in the village, especially for the kids?

How did the diocesan Bishop get involved, and even Prime Minister Winston Churchill?

Who committed the midnight act of wartime sabotage?

Why is Peter confronted with ghastly terror in an unlit midnight church, and why must Dummy be shut so often in the village lock-up?

All turns on a secret visit to bomb-menaced London; and the vicar gets his come-uppance.

“Cripes, it were a real ol’ barney…!” as Jenno would say.




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Gang Spies (Book Six Of Seven In The Gang Series) Peter St John

During World War II, posters were put up everywhere warning against spies. They carried slogans such as: “Walls have ears”, or “Careless talk costs lives”, or “Be like Dad, keep Mum”.

The danger of careless talk was even reflected in Tommy Handley’s popular radio show ITMA (It’s That Man Again) where a menacing German spy would frequently appear with his heavily-accented catch-phrase: “Dis ist Funf speakink”. Because of this, newcomers to a community were often treated with reserve, not to say suspicion.

We, the children of the epoch, were certainly impressed and we sometimes indulged in excited bouts of patriotic spy-hunting. This book describes one such comically cockeyed episode.



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Gang America (Book Seven Of Seven In The Gang Series) Peter St John

It is the summer of 1942. The mighty United States Army Air Force enters the battle of the Second World War in Europe.

The coming of the Americans to war-torn Britain is welcomed by most of the inhabitants, but for the children of the village of Widdlington, it is a catastrophe. A new base for B17 Flying Fortress bombers deprives them of critically important territory.

The children gang together in a series of raids and skirmishes against the Americans in an attempt to regain their rights.


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Readings from Gang Territory

Chapter 1 – Schoolyard Yahoos -

Chapter 2 – Golfball -

Chapter 3 –Jaw Cracker -

Chapter 4 Part 1 – Number Twenty-six –

Chapter 4 Part 2 - Miss Hangar’s Study –

Chapter 4 Part 3 - Katy –

Chapter 5 Part 1 – Braces Bryce –

Chapter 5 Part 2 – Dummy –

Chapter 5 Part 3 – Cucumber Salad –

Chapter 6 Part 1 – Hammer, Nail& BambooStick –

Chapter 6 Part 2 – Lightning –

Chapter 6 Part 3 – The Mountain Glide –

Chapter 7 Part 1 - Ritual Cleansing –

Chapter 7 Part 2 – A Little Flicker –

Chapter 8 Part 1 – Cast-off Clothes –

Chapter 8 Part 2 – Reverend Father – m

Chapter 8 Part 3 – Dust in a Sunbeam –

Readings from Hey God!

Episode 1 – Everywhere –

Episode 2 – The Big Bang -

Episode 3 – Creation –

Episode 4 – Omnipresent –

Episode 5 – Eternal Change –

Episode 6 – Omniscience –

Episode 7 – Consciousness –

Episode 8 – Complaints –

Episode 9 – Good and Bad –

Episode 10 – Time –

Episode 11 – Big Crunch –

Episode 12 – Belief –

Episode 13 – Rules –

Episode 14 – The Stork –

Episode 15 – Out Where? –

Episode 16 – Round and Round –

Episode 17 – Playing the Harp –

Episode 18 – Reincarnation –

Episode 19 – Emptiness –

Episode 20 – Microscopic Crunch –

Episode 21 – Another Cup of Tea –

Episode 22 – In Your Own Image –


Gang Territory Trailer-

Gang Warfare Trailer-

Gang Rivalry Trailer-

Gang Loyalty Trailer-

Gang Petition Trailer-

Gang America Trailer -

Gang Spies Trailer- http://youtube/tLity3S8mDM

Gang America Trailer -

Hey God! Trailer –

Siberian Summer Trailer –


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At 3:39pm on August 31, 2016, Dutch Rhudy said…

Hi Peter

Welcome to Cold Coffee Café.


At 11:38am on August 31, 2016, Cold Coffee Cafe said…

Welcome to Cold Coffee Café Where Authors Showcase Books and Avid Readers Shop! Follow this link to learn more about how to become a featured author on our 6 promotional websites (including this Café).

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Gang Territory
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