Peter Obourn

I’m just an ordinary guy whose writing is the search to understand myself, those around me, and the world. What I’ve discovered is that this search itself is endless yet rewarding. I hold an MFA from Lesley University, and my award-winning short fiction and poetry have been featured in more than twenty American literary journals and collections.


When did you start to write?

I started to write in seventh grade when my teacher, Mr. Verzella, made creative writing a part of the curriculum. I loved it. I wrote for our high school newspaper, The Ambassador, and actually won an award for feature writing from the state of New York. I continued to write creatively in high school, particularly in an enriched English class. In college I majored in English Literature, but the best course I took was “creative writing” and I published in the college literary journal, The Red Balloon. I wrote in notebooks during my legal and business career. I have over 50 notebooks full of my work. Then, as the kids went off to college, I started going to writer’s workshops around the country and finally entered the creative writing program at Lesley University in Boston. I went on to publish in over 50 literary journals, before publishing Women Are Hard to Figure, my first collection of short stories.

What is your writing ritual?

I do not have a ritual but I write every day or almost every day. I set a goal to complete a short story every two months. I’m constantly working on my novels. I also write poetry when a poem strikes me.

I’m always reading, usually a novel, sometimes two or three at the same time. I put checkmarks in the margins and go back and review the checkmarks. Many of my ideas come from that. I’m constantly looking for insight that other writers have. I write in notebooks and dictate into my phone, to keep a collection of ideas that stir around inside me until the story comes out.

What is your next writing project?

I think I do best at short stories, but my goal is to write the Great American Novel. I have written three novels, the second of which will be published soon, followed by the third. The first novel I ever wrote is probably not publishable and probably never will be, but it is my favorite because it’s based on my grandmother. My next writing project is my fourth novel. It’s called Sparky, a very mature stuffed animal who is the seer and philosopher and guides the lives of a very strange family.

What inspires you to write?

What inspires me to write is the attempt to understand the human animal and, of course, in the process understand myself. It’s a search for meaning, purpose, love and happiness. It’s kind of what we’re all about. It’s an emperor inspiration to create art and I guess I believe that it should be the inspiration of everyone.

What is your favorite story in Women Are Hard to Figure?

Tough question. I think I pick “Circus City” although my choice of favorite changes now and then. The story started as a thought exercise about time and how it’s relative for all of us: the boring days go slow and exciting days go fast. But that doesn’t work on the trapeze act. I also like the idea that we all remember our youth and those exciting times when the world was perfect. Some of us may be remembering the time when we realized that we had to grow up.

Who is your favorite character in Holcomb’s Potato Song?

I would have to say Albert Mooney because he is complex is the closest to a bad person in this novel. All the other characters I know well, and, in any given situation, I know what they would say and do, but I don’t know Albert Mooney that well and I never really knew what he was going to say or do. He’s not a predictable person, maybe even to himself.

What is one thing people would not assume about you, but that is true?

I am a principal owner and director of a Navistar truck dealership. We sell, service and repair trucks and trailers. Big trucks. Semis. Below is a photo of me with the president. That’s me on the right. This truck cab is one you can live in very comfortably, but has only one bedroom and bath. I wish it were mine, but it won’t fit in my garage.

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Ordinary People

Ordinary People

Why do I write about ordinary people? Because all lives are fascinating; we just need to take the time to get to know them.

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