What is the best thing that I love about my work? I love being able to see life from all perspectives and the different types of writing I have worked in have allowed me to do that. I have forced myself to have insight into my own flaws and past to be able to write about some difficult topics. I’ve done profiles on people and listened to their life stories. I’ve worked as a reporter where I’ve acted as a detached translator of sorts. And, I’ve done a mix of journalism and memoir where it’s intertwined. I’ve also gotten to know many of my subjects well and I’ve learned so much about human nature. Interviewing victims or perpetrators of crimes, drug addicts, artists and people from all walks of life helps me understand the complexities of human nature. It helps me connect.
What is my idea of perfect happiness? No anxiety. No worrying. No second guessing. Just living in the moment.
What is my greatest fear? I hate the idea of not existing, of nothingness. And I am even more scared of the idea of human beings as a whole not existing anymore. Even though I know that is likely, the idea that all the progress and creations we made as a whole will be gone someday freaks me out.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself? I’m often never satisfied and am very critical of myself. I beat myself up about what I could have done better or how I could have written or performed something in a way that would have been more successful. Also, I used to be a pushover and later in life to make up for it, I would just push people away and be vicious anytime I felt even remotely slighted. I still feel bad about many of those actions and I strive to be more balanced, kinder.
Which living persons in my profession do I most admire? One person I look up to is writer Porochista Khakpour. Her writing is brilliant and she is hardworking and prolific. She is vulnerable and honest and generous with her love, praise and expertise.
What is my greatest extravagance? These days, if I splurge, I splurge on self-care products: like a nice moisturizer or cosmetics that make me feel special.
On what occasion would I lie? I’m really not a good liar. I tell the truth, even sometimes when I shouldn’t. I guess I can lie when I’m at my most emotional. I will say things that feel true at the time but as a whole are not true.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work? I hate that feeling of becoming too familiar with one project. It can become tunnel vision. Like, after writing a book and then revising it six times: that point of a project. It’s always a book or a project that I am passionate about but I have just gone over it and edited it so many times to the point where I can’t really see or process it anymore. That’s when I usually have to take a break to gain perspective, even though what I want to do most is complete it.
When and where was I the happiest, in my work? I am the most content right now with my work actually. I’m at a point where I can see how much I have progressed with my writing. I am confident enough to look at my previous work without shame, even my early writing. I have learned from my mistakes and I am better because of them.
If I could, what would I change about myself? I would change how much I overthink everything.
What is my greatest achievement in work? Finishing my first book: my memoir entitled You’re Fine. It is about my time in a psych ward and rehab and other difficult subjects. I’m most proud of that for two reasons: 1. It got anger out of my system. Now that it’s been published, I vented my feelings about certain times in my life and I’m a much happier, healthier person. 2. It broke my book seal. For me, writing the first book was the hardest. The thought of writing an entire manuscript was absolutely daunting. Now that I did it once, the idea doesn’t overwhelm me and I now know that I (or anybody for that matter) can complete many more books when I set my mind to it.
Where would I most like to live? I used to always want to live in urban areas, which I spent many years living in. But these days I’m most content in a more relaxed and rural setting. I want to live in any area with a beautiful backdrop: mountains, desert or a body of water. But no matter where I live, I want frequent trips to urban areas for inspiration and food excursions.
What is my most treasured possession? My mother’s engagement ring which I wear on my left hand, middle finger. She passed away when I was 20.
What is my most marked characteristic? My obscure sense of humor.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city? The library.
What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city? Wilaiwan’s, it’s a Thai place that is only open for lunch. It is the best.
What books influenced my life and how? Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark, R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series and Stephen King books got me into reading at a young age and piqued my interest in horror. Journalists like Nellie Bly and Hunter S. Thompson taught me that you can think outside the standard journalism box and have fun with it, be shocking at times. Crime and Punishment and Scarlet Letter were two of the first books in which I learned to analyze symbolism so they have stuck in my mind. Stephen King’s On Writing inspires me to be more prolific every day.
Who are my favorite writers? Lucia Berlin is one of my new favorite writers as of late. Look her up. She’s amazing. She’s the woman on the mug I am holding. I also have been reading a lot of Ann Rule’s true crime novels this summer because they are fascinating easy reads; they are like popcorn.
You Only Die Once. What music would I listen on my last day? Something silly like circus music because people take death way too seriously.
Who is my hero or heroine in fiction? I like any hero or heroine that is relatable, conflicted, maybe a little flawed but overall possesses a good heart.
Who are my heroes and heroines in real life? Overall, I don’t really idolize people. Human beings are flawed so putting anyone too high up on a pedestal will only lead to disappointment. But, I look up to anyone who defeats the odds and to people who are generous and loving.
Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime? Todd Solondz’ movie ‘Happiness.’
What role plays art in my life and work? I hope it plays a big role. I try to expose myself to as many forms of art as possible.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime? Fellow writers William Seward Bonnie, Mary Lynn Ritch. And, my beautiful boyfriend.
Whom would I like to work with in 2017? I’m excited to work with Julianna Baggot. She is the faculty director of the MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where I’m getting my masters. She has authored a large number of books. I’m hoping she can give me some tips.
Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017? Can’t think of anyone specifically but I’m always excited to see what the future holds. I love meeting new people, as they always inspire me in unpredictable ways.
What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on? There are a few that I’m really excited about. The project I’m most excited about is a memoir I’ve been working on. My literacy agent is currently shopping around a book proposal I wrote for it. I’m also working on a fiction manuscript and a piece of investigative journalism, both of with I’m excited about.
Where can you see me or my work in 2017? My day job is for Oxygen, the television network. I write daily crime stories for their website. I have books available for sale on Amazon, Kindle, Big Cartel and iBooks. I’m featured on UnSlut: A Documentary Film, available on iTunes. I post about articles and book news regularly on social media. I do readings, sometimes at comedy nights in Vermont.
What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me? You don’t ever want to retire from your passion. Why would you? It’s what drives you. Retire from a day job, yes. But, something you are truly passionate about you need to keep doing because it is what keeps you truly alive.
Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story? Koko Ntuen, editor in chief of Ladygunn Magazine. Photographer Jena Cumbo. Writers Mary Lynn Ritch, Brianna Stallings. Poet and musician Nicole Spinelli.
How can you contact me?