Peter Damm’s life has traveled varied tracks. He was raised in small town rural Michigan and graduated with Honors from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He later studied with National Book Award winner, Wright Morris, and with Guggenheim Fellow and National Jewish Book Award winner Leo Litwak in the Master’s Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State University. He has lived abroad and traveled widely in Europe, India, Bali, Mexico, parts of the Middle East, Indonesia, Central America, South America and New Zealand. He worked on the grounds crew of a golf course, as a banquet waiter, on road construction crews, the staffs of magazines and as a free-lance writer and editor. He has taught European travel classes, taught English language and American culture to Japanese university students, co-founded an import gourmet food business, was co-owner of a residential real estate brokerage, earned a doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, worked as a psychotherapist, grief counselor and with families of the chronically mentally ill. His book of poems, At The Water’s Edge, chronicles a five-month journey in Bali, Indonesia and New Zealand. Peter lives and works in Berkeley, CA.
Read our review of Peter’s latest, Wild Blueberries, here.
At the Water’s Edge (1999)
Wild Blueberries (2019) Print | eBook | Audiobook
Your biggest literary influences:
F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, E.L. Doctorow, Rachel Carson, John McPhee, Louise Erdrich and Peter Matthiessen.
Last book read:
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Your favorite literary character:
George Smiley, created by British writer John Le Carre. Smiley is a subtle, smart and magnificently nuanced character. It’s somewhat inaccurate to name Smiley himself as my “favorite literary character.” It’s actually Le Carre, the writer, who is my favorite in terms of creating characters. He is a master of characterization in his novels, so deft in building the small, often tiny details that make his characters so distinct, real, flawed and human. His knowledge and understanding of the human psyche is remarkable. I often find myself stopping to re-read — sometimes two or three times — his descriptions of a new character in a novel. I shake my head and think, how does he do that? How can he know those things? And the characters then continue to grow and be drawn in our minds as the book moves forward.
Currently working on:
Short pieces and readings, book signing events, marketing, etc. for Wild Blueberries.
Words to live by:
My father always taught us: “They can take everything from you, one way or another, but they can never take your integrity. Only you can give that away.” And three more: Be honest; kind; and respect others.
Advice for aspiring authors:
Good writing is typically not fast nor easy. It can be long and arduous and is learned over time — like all crafts, like carpentry, painting or sculpting. Don’t be afraid of rewrites, or second drafts, third drafts … English writer D. H. Lawrence was known to do five drafts of a novel. And remember that the words you write are not perfect or sacred. They are words — words that need to fit together and work with other words. Also, a good editor is a godsend, not an enemy. Good wishes to you.
Wild Blueberries Website
“Peter Damm … infuses his stories with a deeply felt sense of place … Wild Blueberries is a gem of a book.”
— William Rodarmor, Award-winning journalist and translator
“There is a gentleness and humor to Damm’s stories that invites the reader to reflect on his or her own journey to maturity.”
— J. Ruth Gendler, author of The Book of Qualities, Changing Light and Notes on the Need for Beauty
“Peter Damm’s memoir, Wild Blueberries, is a joy to read … It was a pleasure to be in the hands of an intelligent and generous author.”
— Leo Litwak, Guggenheim Fellow and author of The Medic