Thursday, August 3, 2017

10 Confessions: Peter Thompson, author of Summer on Earth

Peter Thompson grew up in Illinois, and lives near Chicago. He remembers how excited he was when the first astronaut stepped on to the moon. He has had an appreciation of space, and all its possibilities ever since. His love of children’s books developed while reading to his three sons. His first novel, Living Proof, was a thriller published by Berkeley Books. Summer on Earth is his first book for younger readers. It will be released in August of this year.




The night that eleven-year-old Grady Johnson looked out his window and wished upon a shooting star, his life changed forever.

Grady, his Ma, and younger sister Luanne are having a hard summer. Dad has died and the family isn’t the same. Though Ma is trying her best, Grady knows they don’t have enough money to get by.

The shooting star he saw was a space craft plunging to Earth, and landing at the back of their farm. Extraterrestrial engineer Ralwil Turth has one goal, to fix his power drive and go back home. But things don’t go as planned. Stuck in human form, he gets to know Grady and his family as he works on their farm. He starts to learn about what it means to be human, and the exotic charms of this planet like the taste of potatoes, and how amazing bugs are.

Ralwil grows to care for Grady and his family. On a trip to town, he realizes that money is what matters to humans, and is the cause of the family’s trouble. That night, he uses his technology to combine a twenty-dollar bill with an oak twig. Over the next week this grows to a towering tree, every leaf a twenty-dollar bill. This, Ralwil is sure, will solve all the family’s problems.

But the family’s wealth raises suspicion in this small town, and this soon leads to more trouble. With the family’s fate, and Ralwil’s life, on the line, Grady has to find the courage to help his family and save his friend.

Summer on Earth blends humor, adventure and poignancy to create an unforgettable story about finding home.


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1.      It took almost 15 years from when I first came up with the idea until my novel, Summer on Earth, was published.
2.      When I first had the idea for the story, I thought of it as a screenplay for a movie. I didn’t think of it as a novel until much later
3.      The story is set on a farm, deep in the country, but I have never spent any time on a farm.
4.      When I was writing this story I thought it was for adults. After I finished, I learned that if a kid is the hero, this is considered a book for younger readers.
5.      I’ve always wanted to visit outer space, and I believe that we are not alone.
6.      Part of this story is, in a way, autobiographical. I wrote this story after my wife died and I was raising my three sons on my own, and feeling the same sense of loss I put my characters through.
7.      The original title for Summer on Earth was The Money Tree. I do sometimes wonder if having my own money tree would make my life better, or worse.
8.      I wrote the first three quarters of this book in about six months. Then I got stuck, and didn’t pick up the manuscript again for almost two years.
9.      I have thought about my characters, and wondered what happened to them after the story ended.
10.  My first novel, Living Proof, was a thriller, and its main character was named Raul. In Summer on Earth, my alien’s name is Rawil. I never noticed that they sounded alike until someone recently told me. 

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