About The Adventures of Peter Gray
The Adventures of Peter Gray follows a young orphaned wolf coming of age in the alleys of New York City. Peter’s mischievous, happy-go-lucky attitude gets him in trouble as he divides his time between running from bullies and annoying the local baker. When he meets James Lawton, a human boy, Peter discovers what true friendship can be. Together, Peter, James, and other Newsie friends venture on the city’s cobblestones. Soon Peter learns his Newsie friends are in a tough situation. As he watches how it unfolds for the Newsies, Peter realizes that something is missing in his life. He questions the happiness an adoptive family can bring him. Will he accept the circumstances placed in front of him, or will he keep running from the truth?
A Green Bay native, Nathan Hopp inherited his love for literature from his mother and for sci-fi/fantasy from his father. A graduate of Preble High School’s 2015 class, Nathan’s interest in books as a child grew into writing, eventually leading him to try his hand at short stories, vignettes, and longer pieces. Hopp is an English major at UW-Eau Claire and spends his free time running a book review blog, Reader’s Boulevard.
We had a chance to ask Nathan about his recent release. Enjoy!
Q: The Adventures of Peter Gray’s protagonist, Peter, is an anthropomorphic wolf rather than just an ordinary human. What inspired this choice, or how did you get interested in creating characters like that?
A: Peter Gray did indeed start off as a regular human character at first, but I felt I wanted to give him more of a memorable appearance, and circumstances that made his story unique. I’d always been a fan of anthropomorphism in fiction due to the endless thematic possibilities, and when I pictured him as a wolf interacting with a human boy, I thought it sounded interesting to write out.
Q: Why is the theme of friendship so important to both you and the novel?
A: Growing up introverted, I often felt alone like Peter did during my school years, and took pride in the friendships I did manage to form. To me, you cannot function in this world without someone to talk to or speak to face-to-face, and in this divided, almost hostile world, I felt it was important to highlight that friendships can be so powerful, that they can transcend through prejudice.
Q: Why did you choose New York in the late 1800s as your setting? Were there any other settings you considered?
A: At first, I didn’t know what time period worked best to put Peter’s story in. I was tied between the 1880s and early 1900s, until I remembered the Disney movie “Newsies.” As I researched the event and the year it took place in, I couldn’t stop myself from seeing Peter Gray and Kid Blink working together during such a historic event.
Q: What has been your experience as a new young writer? What challenges have come your way?
A: As a young writer, there’s been amazement, but also quite a few trials, most of which involve marketing. I’ve learned that in order to become a successful writer, you have to push your work out and get readers engaged with what you’re writing. They won’t just magically find your books, so you need to get the word out!
Q: You’ve spoken before about your pride in being an author with autism. How has living with autism changed your experience as an author?
A: I’ve written a blog post about it, but the best way I can summarize it is that writing has helped me become a better conversationalist, and vice-versa. If I wanted to improve dialogue, storytelling and character, I needed to interact with people. And having autism has helped me acknowledge that entertainment is fluid, and everyone has different ways to express themselves.
Q: Do you like to write in a similar setting to this novel? Or else, what is your favorite setting to write in?
A: I have so many settings I’ve written in, some of which are Peter Gray’s fantasy settings, and other times they’re dystopian or futuristic space, but I can’t think of one specific setting that is my favorite. However, I can say that whenever I write a story set in the same universe of one of my works, it feels like returning to a familiar place and meeting old friends you haven’t talked to in a while.
Q: What does your writing routine look like? Do classes impact this routine?
A: Due to my job and classes, I try to focus every chance I have on writing. Sometimes I cram it during breaks or between classes, but having a tight schedule can give me motivation to write. After all, I can edit it later.
Q: Who are your favorite fictional characters?
A: That is a difficult choice. If I had to nitpick, I would have to choose Jay Gatsby from “The Great Gatsby”, Vito Corleone from “The Godfather”, and two comic book favorites: Batman and Deadpool. Explaining why would require paragraphs for each of them, so I won’t go into it now.