Who is this guy?
the short version
Hello! My name is Peter Bielagus (pronounced Bill-ah-gus.) For the past twenty years, I have been an author and a professional speaker, writing and speaking on the topic of money management. I have spoken in 49 of the 50 United States and in eight countries. I live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA.
Capesters is my first novel.
the long version
Thanks for visiting the Capesters website. If you’ve scrolled this far, it means you want to know a little more about me.
Let’s go back to 1995. I was a first-year student at the University of Miami in sunny Florida, USA.
And, I was in a bit of credit card debt.
Being on my own for the first time and not knowing anything about how to manage my money, I got in over my head. Long story short, I started reading personal finance books on how to get out of debt. The books were helpful, but all of them had two problems (at least for me.) They were all written by people richer, older, and smarter than me, and they were written for people who are also richer, older, and smarter than me.
After reading book after book, eventually, a light bulb went on. There needs to be a personal finance book for young people, written by a young person. I started writing that very night. Six years later, in 2001, Getting Loaded: Make A Million While You’re Still Young Enough To Enjoy It was published by Penguin Putnam /New American Library. Most nonfiction authors generate a sizeable portion of their income from public speaking, and I was no different. I started speaking about the book, first for free at bookstores and Rotary clubs, then for gas money, until eventually, around 2004, I was a full-time author and speaker. Since then, I have traveled the world, speaking at high schools, colleges, corporations, and at military bases.
My travels in speaking have allowed me to experience some pretty cool stuff like:
- Fly out and LAND on an aircraft carrier. I spent the night at sea and then took off again the next day.
- Land at a British airstrip in the middle of the Omanian Desert (now come on, who can say that?)
- Have dinner aboard a Naval Admiral’s yacht in Pearl Harbor. (Okay, technically, it’s the taxpayers’ yacht that the Admiral has exclusive use of. The point is, it’s good to be an Admiral.)
- But most importantly, I’ve had the privilege of helping people from all walks of life—especially people who are normally neglected by the financial planning world—to improve their personal finances. One of the hidden joys of my career is that some days when I wake up, in my email, there will be a message from someone who saw me speak years ago, and because of that speech, their financial life is on track. These notes are truly a gift.
(BTW, I took that photo behind the stage at Eastern Kentucky University, in Richmond, KY, USA about to speak to one thousand First Year students.)
COVID has changed everything, including the speaking business. Assembling in large crowds was, for a time, illegal, and my normal business travel schedule burned to the ground. In all of 2020, I did two, just two, live, in-person speeches (thank you Gannon University and the Maine Contractors Association!) My schedule went from fifty-plus speeches a year, down to two.
There was, however, a silver lining for me, the shutdown of my business gave me time to write.
While COVID changed my schedule, it wasn’t what changed my motivation. Something happened in 2018, well before COVID, that became the reason for this novel.
In the summer of 2018, I was cleaning out my parent’s garage, when I came across a very special box. It was a plastic bin that I had filled with all the stuff I had saved related to my first book, Getting Loaded. Every book review, every newspaper article, and even every email, I had compiled into a three-ring binder.
I sat there for over an hour, on an overturned milk carton in my parents’ garage, flipping through memory lane. I published the book in 2001, but I started writing it in 1995. Some of those emails were over twenty years old.
There was an email about my first book review. An email that confirmed my first radio show appearance. Another that confirmed my first TV show appearance. There was the contract for my first paid speaking gig.
About twenty minutes into my page-turning, I came across a rather foretelling email I had sent to my agent in the year 2000, nearly twenty years ago. The email was written shortly after he had negotiated the sale of Getting Loaded to Penguin/Putnam. I thanked him for a job well and I told him I was excited about the book and to begin my career as an author.
But then I came across a line, written almost twenty years ago, that would become the inspiration to finish Capesters. Here is what I wrote:
“I should let you know that my real dream is to write fiction.”
Wow. Eighteen years ago, I wrote that to my agent. It was like a voice from the past telling me I had to finish the novel I had started.
I had been kicking around the idea for Capesters for years. (And I mean years.) I am a huge fan of superhero books, comics, and movies, and I thought it would be cool to create a world where Heroes not only existed but a world where they could actually happen.
I asked myself if the government actually passed some sort of Vigilante Act; how would society react? After all, we have for-profit colleges. We have for-profit prisons. What if we had for-profit crimefighters?
After two years of rewrites, I finally had the novel that you are reading. A novel that has been in my dreams for years.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your interest in Capesters!
(BTW, if you want to know more about my life as a financial author and speaker, please visit www.peterbspeaks.com)