PETER

Peter Kate Walker

How do you know if you’re gay?

Peter, a 15 yr old dirt-bike rider, suddenly needs to find out.

Plagued with the usual teen hang-ups about sex and fitting in, Peter spends an unplanned afternoon with his brother’s friend, David.

David is tall, good-looking, immaculately dressed … and it turns out David is gay. A second encounter sets Peter off on a frantic search within himself.

This is a deeply personal look at a boy’s awakening sexuality. It follows his frantic feelings and often savagely honest thoughts as he struggles with the confusion of trying to figure out who he is.

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MORE ABOUT THIS STORY, REVIEWS, AWARDS & THE FIGHT TO GET IT PUBLISHED
Peter Omnibus

‘Peter’ was first published in 1991, a time when there were few gay issue books for teenagers and I had a fight to get it published.

The first five publishers approached said flatly, ‘No!’ They didn’t even want to read it. Another two read it and said, ‘We won’t take the risk.’ They feared a backlash from the school systems and the public.

But one brave publisher – Omnibus Books – said yes, and I’m forever in their debt.

Compared to Gay Lit books today, ‘Peter’ is more than a little tame, and a lot of readers find the end disappointing. Had I wanted to take my characters further than I did, the book would never have been published. It was a compromise I had to accept.

In fact, the book was never published in the UK because at the time it contravened a law making it a criminal offence to promote a gay lifestyle. This book was part of the struggle to win basic human rights for all people to live the life of their choosing.

Pater H&M

The eBook is a slightly revised version of the original print book, and several times I’ve been tempted to over-write the ending and give it a more up-to-date, modern-world resolution. But every time I try, I find myself writing draft after draft and always throwing them away.

I have to accept the story is as it us. In my mind the book never was about being gay anyway, it was about being who are you, whatever that happens to be. But I did want to state loud clear for young people in particular: IT’S OK TO BE GAY. If the book does that, it’s served its purpose however out-dated or tame or otherwise lacking it may be.

I welcome your comments via the box below.

You’ll find reviews of ‘Peter’ at the following links:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/657732.Peter
http://timfredrick.typepad.com/timfredrick/2006/07/ya_lit_review_p.html
http://www.frommybookshelf.com/2008/02/book-review-peter.html

‘Peter’ – Book Awards:
Honour Book (Runner up) Australian Children’s Book of the Year, Older Readers – 1992
Shortlisted in the NSW Premier’s Literary Award  – 1991
         “                South Australian Literary Award  – 1991
         “                Talking Book of the Year Award  – 1992
Highly Commended (Runner up) Australian Human Rights Awards  – 1991                        Selected for American Library Association’s Lists:
…………………..Notable Books of the Year  –  1994

                           Best Books for Young Adults  –  1994
                           Best Books for Reluctant YA Readers  –  1994Keywords: gay fiction, gay literature, gay lit, gay boy, gay boys, gay teens, homosexuality, holiday reading

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18 thoughts on “PETER

  1. Oh, I am interested in your books for younger readers. I like kids’ books because they remind of important things I’m in danger of forgetting. Could I have the names?
    All the best,
    Rosa

  2. I read “Peter” as a 14 year old during the early 90s. At that time in my life your book seemed quite risque. But your approach to the subject was honest and enlightening. Although I am not gay, at the time, your book enabled me to engage in critical thinking about my own sexuality. Two and a half decades later, “Peter” is still relevant. In fact, I am planning on digging out my old copy and encouraging my step-daughter to read it. She is growing up in a very different Australia, where the LGBT community is much stronger and acceptance is more widespread. Despite this, personal discovery is still be a struggle especially when conversations about orientation are becoming more frequent, and there is significant peer influence in both directions.
    I hope that your book will encourage her to think and allow her to decide for herself (without prejudice or peer influence) to be whomever she choses.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Thanks for your comment. It was good of you to take the time. It gladdens my heart that ‘Peter’ is still seen as relevant and may still be of use to young people in the search for who they are. The years between now and when the book was written haven’t made that search any easier. I think it’s always going to be a time of confusion and discovery, anxiety and joy – the whole rocky ride. To my mind Peter’s story was not so much about being gay as being yourself, whatever combination of talents, desires and aspirations that entailed. I hope your step-daughter enjoys the book and the time spent walking in Peter’s shoes are a profitable few hours.
      All the best,
      Kate

  3. Hello, Kate. I recently read your book, and I didn’t think it was tame. (I’m 20, and American.) It really stirred me. And I’m mostly glad you ended it the way you did, and very glad you haven’t revised the ending—I think Peter is too young. But I had a question. Why does David have a hang-up about Peter being Vince’s brother? Why does that stop him from being involved with Peter?

    1. Hi Rosa,
      Good to hear from you, and the fact that you didn’t think the book was tame. Books for young adults have become quite explicit over the years and I sometimes feel Peter may disappoint, being focused more on the boy’s inner life and challenges rather than the outer, physical ones. I agree, Peter at 15 is too young to make an iron clad commitment about his sexuality. There’s plenty of time, a lot more experiences to rack up, and a lot more ways of relating to others sexually than he knows of yet.
      It’s funny you should ask that question about David telling Peter he could not become involved with him because he was Vince’s brother. The simple answer is when David said that he was lying. Same as when he told his mother he never worked on motors in his good shirts. Of course he did. David was using Vince as an excuse to soften the blow of rejection for Peter. And to squeak out of an awkward situation he’d foolishly got himself into.
      David flirted (harmlessly he thought) with Peter from their very first meeting, and that was foolish – and naughty – of him. It was an urge he should have resisted. He certainly liked Peter, but was never really interested in him as a potential partner. With Peter being so young and unsure about everything, any relationship between them at this time would have been fraught. In other words not a lot of fun.
      David, like every other character in the book, is flawed. He’s handsome, personable, and he thought he could get away with a little harmless flirtation and nobody would notice. He never counted on Peter responding to that flirtation by becoming emotionally attached to him. When Peter calls on David and offers himself sexually, David is faced with the fall-out from his own lack of judgement and needs to extricate himself from the situation as best he can; and his innate sensibilities make him do it gently. He lies.
      I hope that answers your question.
      All the best, Kate

      1. Wow. Thank you, Kate. That does make more sense. Thank you for answering my question, that was generous of you and I appreciate it.
        I’d really like to read your other books, but I can’t find them, because on Goodreads, they’re mixed up with the Harlequin romances of another Kate Walker. Do you think you could separate your books from hers?
        Thank you.
        Rosa

      2. Hi again Rosa, I asked Goodreads some years ago if they could separate my books from the many romance novels of England’s Kate Walker. Apparently it can’t be done. Writers with the same name get lumped together. ‘Peter’ is the only YA novel I’ve written; and a YA short story collection called ‘Changes & other stories’. All my other works are for younger readers – picture books through to upper primary. They may not be of interest to you. ‘Peter’ was just one of those stories that came along and clamoured to be written. I didn’t have a choice. All the best, Kate

  4. Hi Kate,
    I just finished reading Peter for the second time, I first read it 5 years ago when I was 60, it is one of the best books I have read dealing with the issue of growing up and dealing with a teenage boys developing emotions, something I can relate to first hand.
    You did an excellent job with a topic not readily accepted in 1991, you were brave to push on and find a publisher, something I am grateful you did.
    Thanks
    mike

    1. Dear Mike,
      Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to post a comment. I’m very glad my book spoke to you despite being now a little out of date. On the other hand, confusion and hurt never go out of date alas. When I wrote the book I truly thought, and hoped, it would have a life span of about five years. That attitudes would change and books like ‘Peter’ wouldn’t be needed any more. I go on hoping.
      With my very best wishes,
      Kate

  5. Thank you. I loved this story. I’m glad it ended as it did, a whole life to look forward to. I don’t think becoming yourself is a story that needs modernizing. It was always the best story Amway.

    1. Hi Stewart, You’ve no idea how relieved I am to get messages like yours. When I wrote Peter it was considered risky & cutting-edge! Now a great many readers find it tame. And sexually it certainly is. But for me the story was always primarily about being who you are. And to have you say ‘that doesn’t need modernizing’ is music to my ears. Thanks for taking the time to tell me. All the best, Kate

  6. Hello,

    I first came across Peter as an extract in the Oxford anthology of Australian Gay and Lesbian Writing – many years ago now. I really enjoyed it, so I was keen to find the full length version.

    I can see why the ending could be written differently now. But I like to think this is one person’s story and the ending as it stands suits the main character at this point in his life. He’s just starting out, and it’s OK for him to still be asking questions.

    In any case, he comes across as a very likeable character and I felt confident he’d work things through. That’s my take, anyway!

    Thanks very much for the story and for persisting with the publishers.

    regards, Matt

    1. Hi Matt,
      I’m very pleased the ‘old fashioned’ ending didn’t detract from the book for you. And most especially it warmed my heart to hear that you found Peter – the character – likeable. I spent eight years writing the book so I lived with that kid for a long time. It was important to me that be came across as a decent and potentially loveable human being. Thanks for taking the time to write.
      Best wishes,
      Kate

  7. Hi Dina,
    Thanks for your comment. I take that 100% as a compliment. I was 15 once, and didn’t much like it. But I was never a boy, and I have a daughter, no sons. When I was writing ‘Peter’ it seemed to me that no matter how old or young you are, or what gender, when you’re in the grip of trauma or crisis or sheer horrible angst, it feels the same for everyone. I drew on experiences in my own life – heart ache, marriage breakdown, that sort of thing – to write up many of the scenes I take my character, Peter, through. I hope you enjoy the book to the end.
    Cheers, Kate

  8. Hi!

    I’m currently reading Peter. I’m greatly enjoying it….at least so far.

    Although you’re an older woman, I think you have the soul of a teenage boy somewhere inside.

    I mean that as a compliment. I’m not trying to say you’re possessed or that you’ve swallowed the soul of some poor teenager.

    I think all people have different genders and ages within themselves; but writers probably have that even more so.

    Well, I better get back to reading…..

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