By Amanda Mills
Yarraville author Peter Leslie has a regular morning ritual that has become a sure-fire way to get his creative juices flowing.
The author of the Keegan James Adventure Series books takes his dog Flora, an Airedale Terrier, for a walk through Yarraville, then it is on to Willis & Anderson café for his cup of tea and scrambled eggs on toast to kickstart a couple of hours’ writing session at his regular table.
“The staff at Willis & Anderson know me well and I rarely have to tell them my order, they see me arriving with Flora and are usually preparing my English breakfast tea, with milk and honey,” he says.
“Flora is an angel and patiently waits, occasionally nudging me to get some toast or eggs.”
It is a neighbourhood ritual that is helping Peter to complete book number six in the series, which he hopes inspires a love of learning and travel for his young readers aged 8 to 80.
Peter started writing regularly as something to do to counter insomnia, first just to process what happened during the day, then he moved into short stories.
One night, the story of Keegan James and the Dragon’s Heart Amulet exploded in his head.
It is one of the adventures his characters Keegan James and his sister Terri are embroiled in, as they travel the world on various quests to save the planet, meeting mythical creatures along the way.
“Initially it was just one book,” he says. “But it ended on a bit of cliff-hanger and I knew there was more to write.”
“It took a few years to write book one, then I took a break to focus on my IT job, but book two demanded my attention and ‘The Bunyip’s Curse’ was born.
“It also ended leaving a door wide open for book three (The Dragon’s Revenge) to emerge.”
“I kept writing just for the joy of writing and after five books, friends, family and some strangers, were all reading them with their kids and they encouraged me to publish. I worked with an editor during Covid to put the final touches on the books and, to get them into the hands of eager readers as quickly as possible I decided to self-publish.”
“Self-publishing is a viable alternative (to having a publisher) and Print-On-Demand publishing is extraordinary, the technology has come a long way in the last five years; I should know I work in the technology arena. A book can be ordered, printed, bound and delivered in three days.”
Peter says there are some autobiographical elements to his fiction books: The main characters are from a large family growing up in Canberra. He is from a large family and started out life in Canberra. The characters travel the world, which he has done extensively, including living in the US and Czech Republic before settling in Melbourne’s inner west.
However, not even he knows where their adventures will take them in his books, with the past few adventures written over mouthfuls of his scrambled eggs at the café rather than at night.
“I quite literally have no idea what each book is about until it is written,” he says.
“Sometimes I have a sense of the overall story, but from chapter to chapter I get as surprised as my readers!”