Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine “Profile” May 2008.
Peter M. Wright
By JoAnn Busenbark
“The Iron Dog,” written by St. Helena resident Peter M. Wright, is the next step in his adventurous life’s journey. For any writer, getting a book published must always be exciting and have a special satisfaction. As a 9-year-old writing one-page cowboy stories, he must have fantasized about the books he would write, what fun.
It is hard to visualize this soft-spoken man with a warm smile as a homicide detective. Yet, Peter Wright was a police officer in Redlands for 12 years, the last seven in homicide. He and his wife Connie decided they would make a move to a location where they wanted to raise their 8-week-old twins and their 4-year-old son. Peter and Connie had vacationed in the Napa Valley many times and decided this was going to be their new home.
The move took place during the mid 1970s and Peter utilized his carpentry skills while applying to teach in the criminal justice program at Napa Valley College, where a new career was born. Peter was the police chief on the NVC campus for ten years and then became a full-time instructor and coordinator for the Administration of Justice career program. He is highly regarded by students to whom he taught the fundamentals of police work at Napa Valley College. Peter and Connie have three terrific, successful sons of whom they are very proud.
How many of us have multiple passions and develop more than one of them? Peter sculpts in marble and has a couple of other artistic twists. All five of the books he has written are crime novels. Peter has published articles in several magazines including True West, Police Journals and Skin Diver Magazine. “The Iron Dog” is the first book that he has had published. His book is easy reading with great detail and is fast-paced.
I’m sure some of you are wondering: How do you get started in the writing process? Peter began writing at nine and continued to write throughout his life. He wrote about the journey as it happened, and all that practice has its rewards. His father gave him his first glimpse of the need for detail after reading one of his early one-page stories – as the cowboy crossed the street, “just say ‘he tipped his hat’”, something Peter has never forgotten.
“Just write” is Peter’s advice. Find a time that works for you, when words start flowing. Peter’s routine begins with an early morning trip to the Model Bakery in St. Helena for coffee and local chat, bringing coffee back to Connie and then disappearing behind the computer to write. He writes “in hot blood” a term meaning he just gets it down in words and then goes back and cleans it up or makes changes at a later time.
“The Iron Dog” went to the publisher after seven drafts – a lot of words on paper. When the publisher sends the book to the author for the galley proof, the final work is completed. Reading word-by-word for correctness, spelling and grammar errors and noting changes as prescribed by the publisher is the final step in the labor of love.
Peter and Connie love to travel. They took their three boys to Europe before they were teen-agers, wanting to expose them to the bigger picture of the world. Peter and Connie still take two overseas trips a year, sometimes traveling with friends; Connie is the expert travel planner. They generally travel in January and May or June. Kenya is a favorite destination: They’ve taken two separate trips there and are planning another.
It is obvious in talking to Peter that he loves what he does. Each of his careers has been something he really believed in and he has been able to make positive contributions. The Napa Valley is inspirational in many ways for a lot of us; Peter and Connie made a great choice in moving here over thirty years ago and have given much back to their community.