I recently had the opportunity to have an Q&A with Joel L.A. Peterson! He is the author of the new book Dreams Of My Mothers.
What inspired you to become an author?
I believe that many of us read to learn new things, to see new places, and to experience events, people, and situations that are unique, compelling, and that few actually know, or see, or experience. I think that is why there have always been so many books related to war. It’s compelling, few have lived it, and fewer still have written well of it.
I have been privileged to bear witness to some very unique circumstances and experiences, at extreme ends of the human condition and at both the broad middle as well as thin the margins of the American saga. I wanted to share some of these in a way that truly brings the reader inside each experience and each moment as if they were the character going through it.
But, at a time when Americans, as well as other societies, seem to be struggling to find a shared identity – struggling with race, culture, and what it means to be American – I also wrote the book because it reveals deep, unique insight, adding to the social discourse on what it means to be American, through a topic – multiracialism and transnational / transracial adoption – that rarely gets much attention from any quarter, because it represents such a tiny niche subset of our society.
Yet, this niche topic can be engrossingly compelling, because it contains within it all the most relevant, timeless, and deeply felt – and held – human themes, passions, values, insecurities, tragedies, and judgments…and loves.
I was born in Korea to a destitute peasant Korean woman. My biological father, an American GI, is unknown. Adopted from Korea into a small town in Minnesota when I was nearly seven years-old by a family of strong Swedish heritage, I grew up in America’s heartland, offering me compelling – and contrasting – experiences and rare insights into what drives culture, personal identity, and family. And I was witness to the wonder and power of not one, but two mothers’ loves and sacrifices.
I borrowed from certain events from my personal background to craft my first fictional novel, hoping to shed new perspective on the evolving dialogue in America about race, family, identity, and the myth and reality of the American Dream. And to intimately touch upon our most cherished and closely held human themes.
Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have any one favorite author, but authors I admire include Laura Hillenbrand, David McCullough, David Halberstam, Malcolm Gladwell, and Mary Roach.
What is your ideal spot to go to for inspiration?
In front of my computer in my home office…I know, pretty boring and mundane response. lol
Do you write your first draft on a typewriter, computer or by hand?
I type everything on my computer, from first draft to final manuscript.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Deciding what to leave out.
What is the easiest?
Letting characters take on their own lives. It’s like meeting the person and learning about them as one writes.
Do you ever get writer’s block? If so what is your go to method to cure it?
Sometimes, but I find a deadline is a great cure. Also, I approach the start of writing as just putting whatever comes into words, rather than thinking about and editing it in my head. Editing comes after just writing, no matter how poor the initial prose.
In his new book, Dreams of My Mothers, author Joel L.A. Peterson brings his unique personal background as a biracial international adoptee and combines it with his penetrating insights into multiple cultures to create an exceptionally enthralling and inspirational story. Learn more at www.dreamsofmymothers.com.
Want to enter to win one of two copies of his book?