Interview with Pete KJ | NewInBooks
What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write One Afternoon in April?
Once, from a hotel window, I watched three cars pause next to each other on the road below. I decided I wanted to put three characters—ones as different from each other as possible—next to one another, and find out what happens. I knew I needed a Black woman (Genie) and an Asian man (Max). But who should be the third character? My best friend was working as a parking enforcement agent at the time, and he described to me the most difficult type of person he had to interact with: the WOW, or “White Older Woman.” Thus, my character Amy Draper was born.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of One Afternoon in April, what would they be?
Genie: “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop
Max: “Roam” by the B-52s
Amy: “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters.
If you had to write a blurb for the last book you read, what would it say?
“Indispensable.” Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
I love investigative journalism, a la The New Yorker, which I have read almost cover to cover for decades. My travel memoirs lean heavily into this genre. Whenever I find a mind-blowing, real-world story, nothing energizes me more than researching it and sharing it. But my first love remains novel writing: multi-genre but realistic, literary, and multicultural with—I hope—a sense of humor.
Do you have any quirky writing habits?
There is a small room, painted blue, window facing east, furnished solely with a table and chair, where only fiction writing is allowed.
Where did you write One Afternoon in April?
Bits were written while roaming in Mexico a few years ago. But the bulk happened in the blue room mentioned above.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Two quotes stick in my mind, though I’m not sure who to attribute them to:
“Don’t worry if events are not probable. Just make them possible.”
“I didn’t make anything up. I just wrote it down.”