Interview with Carrie Peterson

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in one of Omaha's worst blizzards; I think it influenced the rest of my life! I had a happy childhood for many years, and then, when I was about 8 years old, my world began to crumble. We moved. My parents divorced. My grandfather fell ill with Alzheimer's disease and my grandmother had to sell the family farm. Soon after, when both my grandfather and great-aunt died months after one another, my grandmother fell off the proverbial wagon. I couldn't have had a more idyllic childhood, and then the Universe saw fit to bring me some challenges.
You refer to the "Universe" rather than God. What are your spiritual beliefs?
My grandmother was a strong influence in my early life. She embodied true Christianity: living a moral life to the best of her abilities and being kind to others. She was active in her local church. When she was a young mother, she was a foster parent for a while, but her alcoholism put a stop to that. She went through horrific "treatments" in the 1960s, and I think that as a result of the things the doctors put her through, she was always forgiving of others.

In the early 1950s, she began work on a life-sized wax nativity scene. By the 1970s, it was a popular local attraction that drew tens of thousands of people to the farm every Christmas. Cars would line up all the way back in to town. Many people would kneel and pray in front of the Scene. I remember seeing the profound effect it had on some people, effects similar to those at Lourdes or other holy sites. So, I would say my grandmother and grandfather influenced me with the Nativity Scene. The received almost no money for it and no help, and yet they maintained it for almost 30 years.

When I was little, though, the church didn't have any meaning for me - aside from the positive energy I felt at special services, like Christmas - and I often found myself drawn to alternative religions and mysticism. I believe in Christianity, but I do not believe that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I have always been interested in witchcraft, but the books I found on the occult emphasized dark magic too much. I don't like dark magic. I am not a part of any organized religion, and yet follow the tenets of many organized religions on a daily basis.
What made you move to Russia?
You know, I don't really know! It felt like something I had to do. I was there at such an amazing time, too. I would never have gone to the Soviet Union and I don't know that I would even go back now. It might sound strange, but that time I spent there is such a part of me ... not going would be like being born with only one kidney or half a liver. It made me alive.
When did you first start writing?
I've always been a big reader and I always enjoyed writing, but I stopped writing because of my abusive boyfriend. He would snoop in everything I wrote, and so instead of risking getting in trouble, I just stopped.

And then, I had kids, and I never had any time. I kept up with it here and there, but it's only recently that I needed to start writing again.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I felt that I needed to share my story. It is a story of great triumph and horrible tragedy. In going to Russia, I met some amazing and wonderful people that are still dear friends, but I nearly lost my life a the hands of another, too. Before my journey, I thought I was Achilles. But I had a heel that was exposed, and I desperately needed to gain the wisdom that can only come with being taught humility.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite author, hands down, is Fyodor Dostoyevsky. My favorite book is The Idiot, but I also like Crime and Punishment. For the longest time, I could relate to the Nastassiya Fillipovna character, but recent events have made me feel much more like Aglaya. Maddening! Dostoyevsky was also quite spiritual. There is a scene in which two of the characters - Rogozhin and the Prince - discuss a painting that hangs over a dark doorway in Rogozhin's house. It is a painting of Christ, after he has been removed from the cross. I never thought about it before, what Jesus would look like after they took him down, but Dostoyevsky's description of the painting - his description of the fragility and humanity of Jesus - deeply affected me.

I also enjoy modern authors, like Joseph Heller and Anthony Burgess. I've been reading more science fiction lately, and Philip Dick is a favorite.
What are you working on next?
My next project will probably be a cause I've been working on for the last 4 years: the murder of a girl named Nichole Alloway on my friend's Ohio farm in 2009. It was a horrific murder and although people have confessed to this murder, either corruption or incompetence has prevented her family from seeing justice. It's an interesting and tragic story and I hope that by writing about it, I can bring a small amount of closure to her family and my friend.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I actually have very little time to write, because of my kids. But now that they're older, I want to get back to writing about current events - I'm great at rhetoric! - and maybe inspires greatness in others, too.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember one story having an impact on me: The Sneetches, and the story in the back about the "pale green pants with nobody inside them."

I had terrible nightmares about the trees from that story! I would get stuck in those horrific Dr. Suess trees, just like from the illustrations in the story!
How do you approach cover design?
I am a photographer and artist, so it was important to me to design my own cover. I think the image has to be simple, yet a little confusing to the person viewing it the first time. I wanted my reader to ask, "What is plastiline? What significance does it have in the author's life?"

In the case of plastiline, it is a simple thing that has been a staple in my creative life for many years now.
Published 2015-07-30.
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Books by This Author

Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 87,440. Language: English. Published: July 30, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Sex & Relationships  » Women's sexuality
An American woman's harrowing personal journey through the Wild West days of 1990s Russia, and how she escaped the horror of domestic violence and her own demons to find peace with herself in a foreign land.