How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
Petter: I started writing fiction in 1992 and shortly
thereafter I participated in an intense online writing experience
called Boot Camp which was run by the Welsh writer, Alex Keegan. In the
period 1995 to 1998, I think it was, I had written about fifty stories.
A number of these stories were published online and in print in the US,
Australia, New Zealand and the UK. In 2001, twenty-eight stories were
published in my first collection, The
Past Present. Unfortunately, the publisher went out of
business a couple of years later. I kept writing stories, but at a much
slower pace as I was also working on a novel. When I heard about a
fiction competition in Australia, I put a collection together which
included new and old stories that I had revised. To my surprise I won
the IP Picks 2007 Best Fiction Prize. Then followed an intense
collaborative period with my publisher, IP, editing and revising, and
several stories were removed from the final version of the collection.
So we could say that a number of the stories as they appear in Back Burning took
about twenty years to be in their present form. Others, of course, were
written more recently.
TSR: Did you
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
No. I write stories in response to whatever
moves or ignites me. I’m a bit all over the place in that
TSR: How did
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
I chose stories that had been well received and ones I liked. In my
submission, I put “strong” stories at the beginning
and at the end, and also in the middle. By “strong”
I mean ones that had been well received, either by short-story markets
or by people giving me feedback. I also saw the collection as a voyage
through countries and time, so I tried to reflect that. Sometimes
it’s good working backwards.
TSR: Do you
have a "reader" in mind when you write stories?
don’t have anyone in mind when I write. I follow what ignites
me, what the story wants.
TSR: Is there
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your
anything at all?
I think I’d like to know what resonates for them in my
stories. Different people see different things. And I’d like
to thank them for reading. Writers need readers.
TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your books ?
I’m always happy when people buy my books. But I’m
happier when I hear that they have found something in them that has
touched them in some way. Once the book is out there, it’s a
part of yourself that you’re sharing – what you
believe in, in a way.
TSR: What are
you working on now?
At the time of writing, I’m finalising my thesis in creative
writing which includes a novel. Then there’s a sort of mosaic
of a memoir on my mother and her life shown through a metaphor of the
craft work she does. Then there’s a revision of a novel I put
aside years ago. But I want to write more stories. I haven’t
written stories for a while because of my thesis work. I miss them.