• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Ray Peden pursues his passion to write stories


Onetime Versailles resident Ray Peden was returning home from a vacation in 2005 when the story that he tells in his debut novel, One Tenth of the Law, was born. Seeing a young girl at an interstate rest area alone with her dog and a gruff-looking biker nearby became the seeds for his thriller about a kidnapping and an unlikely hero chasing down her abductors on a Harley Davidson. Peden says he quickly imagined the biker as a military vet who nearly loses his life less than a day before his wife and baby daughter lose theirs. Once he started writing, Peden says his characters took him to places he could never have imagined. “They told the story and I just wrote it down,” he explains. Alone in his one-bedroom Frankfort cottage, Peden writes at a desk with a window facing the Kentucky River. “I’m content,” he says, “just burying myself in something that I truly am passionate about…” The artistic side of Peden was evident in childhood. Drawing, painting, cartooning and writing made him happy. But because he couldn’t afford to pay for college and pursue his creative passions, he parlayed an aptitude for math into an engineering scholarship and a 43-year career as a general contractor, homebuilder and designer. “It was a good career, but it wasn’t a passionate career,” acknowledges Peden, 68. After making the decision to pursue a writing career when he retired, Peden says it was years before he could tell a good story. Reading a lot of books and having many conversations with other writers helped become author a suspense story. “I had to learn how to play this psychological cat-and-mouse game between writer and reader,” says Peden. “If you want a reader to turn the page,” he explains, “you can’t give them all the answers. You’ve got to give them a lot of questions unanswered.” Eventually, he says his writing “progressed from embarrassing trash to modestly suitable to better.” His goal was always to write a story that made him proud to put his name on the book. Peden says he chose to self-publish his debut novel because he wanted to hear how other people – not friends or family – felt about his writing. He knew his story had connected with readers after they told him One Tenth of the Law kept them on the edge of their seats, and turning pages. “I wanted my characters to be tortured, to have all of these internal problems that everybody in the world has,” explains Peden. “Even if they’re good characters, I wanted them to have bad flaws. Even if they’re bad characters, I want them to have good characteristics because nobody’s totally good or totally evil.” The central character in One Tenth of the Law and Peden are different in many ways, but similar in other ways. Patrick Granger earns his living as a steelworker. Peden had a long career in commercial construction. Peden was never active duty, but he was a drill sergeant and knew enough about the military to give his fictional character the back-story of special operations soldier who served in Kuwait. A self-described overprotective dad, Peden dedicated One Tenth of the Law to his 32-year-old daughter, Layne. He says the fictional relationship that Grainger has with his daughter mirrors the real relationship he has with Layne. Overall, Peden describes Grainger as “the hero that I could never be, but always wanted to be.” One Tenth of the Law is available on Amazon (Kindle or soft cover), Poor Richards Bookstore in Frankfort and Morris Bookstore in Lexington. Signed copies are available from the author’s website: writerontheriver.com. Peden has begun work on his second novel, which he says will again feature Patrick Grainger and references to cities and other locales in Central Kentucky. “By virtue of having Frankfort and Lexington drawn into this (debut novel and knowing that) people liked it so well,” Peden says, “it’s almost necessary that I start including Versailles, Georgetown, Lawrenceburg – and maybe in a very prominent way.”

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