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Interview with Grace Peterson
One of the many reasons that I love my job is because I get to meet new people. I reached out to Grace because I was working with a client who was considering signing a contract with the same publishing company with whom Grace published her book. I have found that authors are generous, friendly, and accepting. Publishing is a tough business, so most authors are quick to offer a helping hand to one another in this shark-infested field of work. This was definitely true of Grace. After talking with Grace, I read a copy of her memoir, Reaching, and I was amazed. Aptly named, Grace Peterson has tremendous talent, a fighting spirit, and a grace for which we should all strive. If you haven’t read this book, you should really check it out, as it is wonderfully written. With that being said, I’m honored to present my online interview with Grace.
Thank you Kimberly for interviewing me. It is quite an honor.

1.        Can you tell us a little about Reaching for those readers who haven’t read it?
REACHING is an insider’s look at anxiety and the mind games of cult dependence.  

Like all children, I learned early on to adapt to my environment. However, whether it was nature, nurture or a combination of the two, I developed an anxiety disorder around eight years of age. As a young adult, my anxiety morphed into what I believed to be demonic possession. As readers will see, seeking help from a modern-day exorcist caused more problems than it solved.
2.       You and I know how tough the publishing world can be. What advice can you give to new writers who are just starting out and trying to get published?
 I love Bill Cosby’s words: “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

Becoming a published author takes a tremendous amount of gumption. You have to believe that your words are worthy to be shared. Unfortunately it doesn’t take very many rejections to shatter that belief. So my advice to newbies is, grab and hold on to that gumption, that deep desire for success within yourself. You’ll need to keep it handy, like in a top drawer or as an icon on your desktop. Click on it and sharpen it often. It’s what will fuel you to keep at it when you get discouraged.
3.       Let’s get heavy. Being a Christian is my religion of choice, but I also think it’s important to not be closed-minded about other viewpoints. It has been estimated that 92% of humans believe in a higher being. In my opinion, we all believe in the same power—it’s just our doctrines that vary. Although we ‘creative’ people tend to be more open-minded, I feel like Earth would be a lot more peaceful if we stopped fighting over ‘religion.’ I don’t want to give a lot a way from Reaching. However, can you tell us a little bit about how your views regarding religion have changed? What are your feelings regarding religion and/or spirituality now?

My first exposure to organized religion was during my late teens. Of course at that time I was very impressionable and hadn’t yet developed the critical thinking skills needed to question what I was being taught. As the years unfolded religious extremism appealed to me more and more until I crashed and burned. It took an entire decade to recover and sort things out. Now, there are few original beliefs that still hold true for me. I still believe in a supreme, benevolent Creator and I’m much more tolerant of others’ beliefs and don’t feel that compulsion to force my views on them.  
4.       What’s the most important thing you want people to know about abuse? What about cults and those who are a part of them?
Abuse can be very subtle. I spent seven years misinterpreting my inner voice and it got me into serious trouble. Don’t do what I did! I’m always telling my kids how important it is to listen to your gut and not minimize your feelings. That God put instinct there to protect you.

With cults, there is always a little truth surrounding a big lie. The leader knows how to manipulate his/her words to make them sound reasonable and logical, at least on the surface. And what’s even more insidious and pathological is that a lot of cult leaders (including “Brock”) honestly believe they’re doing God’s work. So they can appear very sincere. Sorting the reality from the distortions can be mind boggling.

5.       As you know, I found your book fascinating. Not only is the story itself amazing, but you are such a talented writer. In part, I feel like it is a story to which anyone can relate. We all want to be accepted. We all want to be loved, and we all want to feel like we are part of something that is bigger than ourselves—that we are important and that we can make a difference. With that being said, was writing Reaching therapeutic for you? In what ways do you satisfy those desires today?
Thank you Kimberly. My aim was to write a book with universal value. We each have our unique stories but fundamentally we all need the same thing--affirmation and to feel a sense of belonging.

This might sound strange but before writing REACHING I felt as though my history was a foggy blob. There was no structure, no patterns, no meaning, and no reality, just a bunch of events that popped into my consciousness on occasion. Writing meant becoming intimately acquainted with not only the events of my life but the surroundings, the smells, the emotions. There were feelings I had to work through as I put myself back in some very unpleasant situations. Now that I’ve got a chronological, detailed narrative of my life, it feels real and has substance. It took over 5 years of concerted effort but it was well worth it. And I should mention that I was in therapy at the time and those weekly meetings were life-saving.
6.       As writers, we sometimes find inspiration in the strangest places. What inspires you?
Nature inspires me. My backyard garden is my favorite place on the planet. As an introvert, I can be perfectly content to spend an entire day alone tending to my plants. Like most writers, I’m also inspired by good writing and as a memoirist, I find that reading true stories of overcoming obstacles feeds my soul.
7.       Do you think that writing is an inherent talent- or is it a craft that can be learned?
 I don’t think it’s either/or but a combination of both. It’s taking a desire and biological proclivity and nurturing it. A person who enjoys writing will desire improvement and with each success will learn more, if that makes sense.
8.       Writers are artists, so many readers are always curious about how an ‘artist’ spends his/her free time. What are your hobbies?
I love gardening. It’s such a thrill to see a plant go from a tiny thing into a voluptuous stand-out. I love combining organic and inorganic elements to create a vignette that looks timeless, mysterious even. While the bulk of writing takes place in my mind, gardening takes place outside myself so the two pursuits kind of balance each other out. Many famous gardeners were (and are) writers as well so I think there is something universally fulfilling in both.  
9.       Who is your favorite author? What is your favorite book or books? 
I’ve been asked this question many times and I always feel a bit inadequate with my answer. Honestly, I don’t have a favorite author. I didn’t read many of the classics when I was younger and now I’m much more interested in true stories than fiction. Each author has his or her strengths
10.   Are you working on any new projects?
I’ll be working on edits for my gardening memoir aptly titled, GRACE IN THE GARDEN that will be published late this year or early next year. I also have a new writing project that will help me avoid housework during the winter months while I’m unable to garden. I’ll announce it further down the road.
11.   How can we keep up with you? Website? Facebook Page? Where can we buy your books?

My blog Subplots by Grace is where I share the goings on in my world. www.gracepete.com.
I’m also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/L.gracepete
REACHING can be purchased on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Reaching-Grace-Peterson/dp/0989403203/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1380906727&sr=1-1&keywords=reaching+a+memoir

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