Pete Prown of Rose Valley is an author, journalist, and editor with a penchant for British fantasy literature, which informs his book series The Chronicles of Dorro. Prown credits the work of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and J.K. Rowling, as well as the humor of P.G. Wodehouse for inspiring Thimble Down, Devils & Demons, and the just-published The Lost Ones, which strive to capture the voice of 20th century fantasy lit. We asked Pete about his process of invention.
How did you decide upon the sci-fi/fantasy genre?
I honestly stumbled upon it; the original idea was to write a conventional historical mystery like the Inspector Rutledge books. But I was impatient and wanted to avoid months of research, so it occurred to me that I knew the so-called “fantasy realm” well. Also, no one had created a classic murder mystery within that setting — in effect, it’s an English village mystery in a made-up place.
What’s the gist of the tale?
Mr. Dorro is the bookmaster of a Halfling village called Thimble Down, and he essentially runs the library there. He’s fussy and eccentric, but also clever, which helps him solve crimes at the behest of the local lawman, Sheriff Forgo. He and two pre-teens, Wyll and Cheeryup, solve murky misdeeds in the village and beyond. The first book in The Chronicles of Dorro takes place in Thimble Down proper, but throughout the saga, our protagonists explore further into the realm, discovering more sinister places and creatures. By the end of the fifth book [due out next year], the story is staged on a fairly grand scale.
What are Halflings?
Perhaps not too far off from Tolkien’s hobbits, which he actually borrowed from a 1927 children’s book called The Marvelous Land of Snergs. The folk and their setting resemble a pre-industrial village of 18th-century England. More perilous species appear in the series: elves, goblins, gnomes, and worse. It’s all part of that fantasy universe prevalent in everything from Game of Thrones to the World of Warcraft games.
What’s the tone of your stories?
Again, I’m trying to capture that vintage style that combines epic adventure and mystery with a bit of the darker style that pervades modern young-adult lit. Readers and reviewers have noted how much they enjoy being drawn into the strange atmosphere of Thimble Down. My goal is that readers return to these books because they want to go there, like a Middle Earth or Hogwarts. It’s place-based fiction.
Where do you write?
With my laptop, I can go anywhere. I’ve worked at home, on trains to Center City, and here in the Swarthmore Public Library and at Scott Arboretum. I have a favorite bench on campus that has triggered some fruitful writing sessions.
Pete Prown’s books are available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Visit peteprown.com for more information.