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Peter's adventure books come directly from his travel journals. In order to write a book about a place—its history, geography, people and culture—he likes to experience it for himself. As a child, he loved collecting rocks and wandering the countryside of Connecticut. When his parents split up, he, his identical twin brother, Jim, and their younger sister, Ann, moved to Ontario, Canada.
In the fourth grade, deep into The Hardy Boys, Peter wanted to be a bush pilot in Canada's Northwest Territories. He also wanted to be an archaeologist, to travel the world to delve into ancient cultures. When he graduated from New York University with a bachelor's degree in Classics, Peter studied early human bones with Margaret Leakey in Kenya and observed Colobus monkeys on the coast of Tanzania. He was all set to become an anthropologist when suddenly, while surveying monkeys in the jungles of Ecuador, Peter heard the mysterious story of an Incan treasure.
In 1533, seven hundred and fifty tons of gold were buried in a strange and haunting cloud forest in the Andes Mountains. That gold, in fact, is still hidden in a dangerous chain of misty mountains only seventy miles from Quito, the capital of Ecuador. It was this fantastic story (audio) that made Peter drop his plans to earn a PhD in anthropology. And for the next five years, he remained in Ecuador to research the story of the Inca gold. Finally he hired three guides (Segundo, Juan, and Washington) from the small village of El Triunfo in the cloud forest. He climbed into the high jungle looking for the gold but came back not with riches but with a desire to write an article for Highlights magazine ("Inca Treausre in the Cloud Forest") and a book (Sweat of the Sun, Tears of the Moon: A Chronicle of an Incan Treasure).
So Peter began to write adventure-travel books about many places, rivers, and ancient cultures, both for children and for adults. His journeys have now taken him to remote parts of the world, including the jungles of Mexico, Bolivia, Brazil, Panama, Peru, and Africa.
A few years ago he realized a boyhood dream when he explored Tierra del Fuego at the tip of South America, known also as "El Fin del Mundo," or the End of the World. This remote island is located at the southern tip of Patagonia and was named "Land of Fire" by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. Only seven hundred miles from Antarctica, it is a wild and desolate place, filled with penguins, sea lions, and wild guanaco, a llama-like creature that the natives there depended on for food and clothing.
For Peter, research is another word for exploration! It is Peter's love of mystery and of what he will discover that compels him toward his next adventure. His most recent adventure biography, Jack London and the Klondike Gold Rush (Henry Holt 2017) will be followed by a second biography for Holt about Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen: Locked in Ice! Nansen, the Fram, and the Daring Quest for the North Pole. Peter has also been working with funding from the National Science Foundation on multimedia stories about the Arctic: www.arcticstories.net and www.icebreakerstories.com (this one about a month aboard Canada’s largest and oldest icebreaker in the Beaufort Sea). Peter holds a bachelor's degree in classics from New York University, an MA in English Literature from the University of Maine, and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. He has taught writing at Columbia College, the University of Vermont, and Middlebury College.
He now makes his living traveling, writing and photographing, and visiting schools to share his adventures with students and teachers.
He and his family live near Middlebury, Vermont.