Guest post: Author Wallace Peters on his writing inspiration @SBPRA


Author Wallace Peters is a renowned medical scientist in his 80s whose main interest is tropical medicine. In 2007, he and his Swiss wife, Ruth, moved into a peaceful retirement village in the English countryside. Nine months later Ruth succumbed to cancer.

After Ruth’s death, Wallace came to learn that the 200 residents in the community had a wide range of backgrounds. He realized that many of them, irrespective of their former careers, struggled to find a direction in their lives. Some, learning of the author’s own career, asked to hear more. Hoping to restore their interest in their own existences, Wallace set out to describe his and Ruth’s experience of their own lives post-retirement and their positive lifestyle. 

Four Passions: Conversations with Myself is a frank account, describing the psychological pitfalls that many couples encounter after one or both are obliged to “retire”. In today’s world, an ever-increasing number of us will face an unprecedentedly long period of seniority. This story offers an optimistic perspective on the pleasures of “old age”.

Guest Post:

What really inspires people to write? For whom do we exert the mental energy that this demands? Do we want to take readers into a fictional world, or share with them something of our own life experiences, or those of others? 

In 2007, after a long marriage my wife, Ruth, died of cancer. As do so many of us, I had to come to terms with the future. Writing for me was a form of catharsis. I composed my autobiography. In the Spring of 2010 I put finger to computer (yes, I could never touch-type) and composed my first "blog". Posted as Conversations with myself on 8th April 2010 it ran as follows: 

"Last week I entered my 87th year, a nostalgic occasion."

On any clear morning at precisely three minutes to eight I gaze from my small bed through the tall window facing South across our large lawn, with its backdrop of trees like an open-air theatre. I see, about five miles off and at an elevraion of about 45 degrees, an airplane heading from the West as the pilot makes his prefinal turn towards its scheduled landing at the nearby airport. Today was no exception. 

Time to turn on the computer, shake off sleep, shave, wash, reluctantly perform the exercises imposed on me by my physiotherapist, then brace myself for the day. Lone breakfast, daily tablet to keep prostate under control, collect newspaper, make coffee and start the day's crossword. 

On a dark morning I risk oversleeping. 

It was not always thus – only yesterday, or so it seems, the coffee and breakfast would have been for Ruth, my raison d' étre for over 50 years. Now I have committed my memories of her to paper. "Conversations with myself - the first 85 years" sits on the desk of a lady in New York who will try to persuade a publisher that what I have written will resonate in the minds of other people in the later years of their lives. Ruth and I passed an unusual and peripatetic life together – some would call it adventurous. Perhaps it is true that sentiments shared, especially painful memories, can help to bring some measure of solace even at time to a complete stranger who reads of them. 

We will see. 

Since I posted that first blog, nearly six years have passed. Much in my life has changed, but not everything. Once again, as on 8th April 2010, I opened my eyes early in the morning to see from my bed a plane passing from West to East across the sky towards its landing at the nearby airport. The aircraft was probably not the same but the flight schedule appeared unchanged, unlike everything else in my life. 

During the first two intervening years I composed my autobiography. The decision to undertake this task was motivated originally as a form of catharsis for the trauma of losing Ruth, my wife for over 43 years and her cremation on Christmas eve, 2007. Over time I found it necessary to include an account of our individual and joint lives. 

By late 2011 I had succeeded in finalising this story and having it accepted for production by a publisher, Strategic Publishing and Rights Co, (now known as SBPRA ) based in Houston, Texas. I proudly announced in a blog that I posted on October 6th 2011 that Four passions: conversations with myself (henceforth referred to for convenience as 4P) was on its way. 

To my disappointment, but not surprise, the book's initial launching was not met by a mad rush to the book sellers. However, as I had hoped, it slowly came to the attention of at least some of the potential people to whom it was primarily directed, middle and elderly readers such as myself. 4P began to receive positive comments from a number of appreciative reviewers (none of whom were my family or friends !). In the light of the exponentially increasing, numerical expansion in numbers of retired, English language readers in today's world, SBPRA made the decision to reissue 4P and to extend its availability through a number of major distributors and new contemporary formats. My personal hope is that the thoughts I have expressed will resonate with some of you.

About the Author:

Wallace Peters grew up in London and currently resides at Castle Village Retirement Home, near Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. He has written three books on medical and entomological topics; was a senior author (with two different co-authors) of six editions (since 1977) of Atlas of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology; co-editor of four books on malaria and leishmaniasis; the author of forty-three book chapters; and sole or joint author of over three hundred and forty papers.

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