“Once I Came Down From The Excitement, I Entered A Dark Period Where I Was Unable To Feed Or Bathe Myself:” A TDQ Q&A With Teacher And Writer Paul Phillip Peters

Paul Phillip Peters

Paul Phillip Peters. We were very disappointed when we learned Paul Peters’ middle name was not “Mary” but this graphic was nearly complete.

This week’s TDQ Q&A is with high school teacher and writer Paul Phillip Peters. Paul took a break from grading papers and spoke with us about how he became a history teacher, the difference between Canada and central Florida and his first novel, “Orange Groves.” Here is this week’s TDQ Q&A with Teacher and Writer Paul Phillip Peters: 

The Daily Quarterly: How did you hear about thedailyquarterly.com?

Paul Phillip Peters: Either when a former colleague of mine, Jay Haffner, was featured a few years back or it could have been aliens. Not actually sure.

TDQ: How excited are you that The Daily Quarterly asked you for an interview?

PPP: I’m not going to lie. I’ve lost sleep over it. I won a chocolate bunny at a corner store raffle back in 1976 and this was so much better! Unfortunately, once I came down from the excitement, I entered a dark period where I was unable to feed or bathe myself.

TDQ: Would you categorize the writing on The Daily Quarterly as “history-making” or “ground-breaking?”

PPP: I’d have to go with “history-making.” My secret identity as a history teacher makes me partial to that one.

TDQ: Who was your favorite teacher growing up?

PPP: Not an easy question. My parents moved around a lot and the longest I was ever at a school was for two and a half years. I went to eleven different schools and dropped out in 10th grade. Mr. Robert Marsh and Kay Cramer McKamy formerly of the Springstead High School (my almost alma mater). I was fortunate to have them both as instructors again in community college. They had faith in me.

TDQ: Who was your favorite writer growing up?

PPP: J.R.R Tolkien

TDQ: What made you want to be a writer?

PPP: The total creativity that the process of writing gives you with no budget or idea boundaries. The ability to entertain someone. Once you’ve created a novel, it is unique. No one has ever produced those exact words in that exact way before.

Paul Peters

Author Paul Peters, center, shares some words with friends. (We’re talking about books, not that smartphone game.)

TDQ: What made you want to be a history teacher?

PPP: I didn’t know I wanted to be a teacher until I was 21. I had dropped out of high school as a sophomore and never looked back. At a party, a girl who worked for the community college told me that with a GED, I could attend community college, and after that, the sky was the limit. That information, along with seeing the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” a few weeks later, inspired me. I came out of the theater and turned to my best friend and said, “I’m supposed to be a history teacher.” Then we laughed for a minute. A month later, I got my GED.

TDQ: What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

PPP: I don’t know about advice, but I can tell you about the words that changed my life. I borrowed money from my mother for my first classes in the community college. Financially things were tough and my dad wasn’t working. He was none too happy when he found out about the money and it caused problems between my parents. When mom gave me the money, she told me my father had said, “Why did you give him the money? He never finishes anything.” In my father’s defense, he was right, but my mother had faith. My father’s words fueled me through six years of higher education.

TDQ: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever gotten?

PPP: To tell the truth, I can’t remember. Either I just have good friends who never produced inferior advice or my brain has squirreled it away for self-protection. If this worst advice thing exists in my head, it probably involved a girl.

Orange Groves

Orange Groves By Paul Peters

TDQ: Tell us about your book, “Orange Groves.

PPP: It’s about a fictional high school, in a fictional town, in a fictional county, in Central Florida. The big picture would be “Outside the sleepy and tight-lipped town of Bedlam, Florida, the bells of rural Orange Groves High School sing of murder, lies, and secrets.”

TDQ: Who are your influences?

PPP: I know this is an odd grouping, but I am different. I would say J.R.R. Tolkien, Douglas Adams, John Grisham, and Ernest Hemingway.

TDQ: What project are you working on now?

PPP: I am feverishly working on the prequel/sequel to my novel “Orange Groves.” It’s called “Pastel Orange.”

TDQ: How has the internet changed the way students learn and the way you teach since you first started teaching?

PPP: It’s been a game changer. The internet has been a blessing for those educators who are willing to take advantage of it and all that new technology and resources that have emerged. Teachers should also embrace and adapt with the times. I stated that on Myspace this morning.

TDQ: You’re from Canada. We’ve often said that Canadian women are hands down the most beautiful women in the world. Why is that? Is it the climate? Is it the culture? Is it the food?

PPP: I am not an expert on this since I left Canada when I was ten. I was more concerned with getting Cooties. However, and this may get my Great White North membership card revoked, but I believe the most intelligent & beautiful woman in the world are in central Florida–which explains why I’m single L

TDQ: Besides the weather, what’s the biggest difference between Canada and central Florida?

PPP: When we moved to the states in 1980 from Canada, it was from Regina, Saskatchewan. Truly night and day to central Florida. Regina had few trees and was flat. I mean flat, flat. The only hill was an artificial one the city was making out of trash and covering with dirt so they could improve the geography. When winter came, the wind-chill factor was so cold I could go outside with a snowsuit on and a parka overtop with every inch of my body covered, but once the wind hit me, I felt like I was naked. My dad plugged his car in at night so the battery wouldn’t freeze. In the summer, the ground would crack like the desert. When it rained, the mud turned into a gumbo substance that would not let go of your boots and accumulate as you walked. The thing that shocked me the most was going outside at night in Florida during the summer and it was still hot! It had the same effect on me as if I had seen two moons. In Canada, in the land where shade trees work, it was always cooler once the sun went down.

TDQ: Isn’t your career really all downhill from here after this interview runs?

PPP: Funny. I was thinking the exact same thing. I am filling out the paperwork to join the AARP even as we speak. Oh, what a minute, this is the NAACP paperwork.

TDQ: Quick: Saul Bellow or Margaret Atwood?

PPP: Saul Bellow! Whew, that was close.

TDQ: Are you on Twitter? If yes, why aren’t you following @dailyquarterly?

PPP: I am on Twitter @DeweyDarter. Why am I not following you? Rest assured I am now, though stalking would be a better word for it.

TDQ: Better source of news using social media? The Daily Quarterly on Facebook or @dailyquarterly on Twitter?

PPP: I really prefer Facebook. I know I won’t fall in love with Twitter until everyone else has moved on to the next big thing. Myspace was a hard habit to break, I’ll tell you.

TDQ: You’re welcome for our time.

PPP: A truly heartfelt “thank you” right back at you!

Be sure and like Paul’s Facebook page for “Orange Groves.”

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