By Tamara Anne Fowler | CNA Media Team
Peter Chilson wanted to be a writer ever since junior high school. He can’t recall wanting to be anything else.
When he was 14, he read a column in the local weekly newspaper in Aspen, Colorado, that painted an unflattering portrait of teenage youths in town. Peter, being one of those teenage youths, wrote a response in the form of a letter to the editor.
The experience brought him a small amount of attention. He learned something about the power of words and the power of story. He has been writing ever since.
The newspaper invited him to contribute a regular column on youth life in town. Peter helped found the monthly newspaper in his high school, and he went on to become sports editor.
“We appreciate the work you do at Concordia News. I owe my career to small newspapers,” Peter said.
His favorite writing class was with a teacher named Bob Wiley. Later in high school, Peter was in the history class of a teacher named George Burson. “He read everything we wrote closely.” The budding writer learned from the teacher to make every word count.
Now Peter works as a Washington State University English professor in Pullman while his partner, Concordian Part-time Concordian writes Laura Gephart, works in Portland at the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. He commutes back and forth regularly between Concordia and Pullman.
“I’ve been doing this for 17 years, and I love traveling between the rural and urban West.”
A favorite subject, Peter has been writing about Africa since he was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Niger in the mid-1980s. “Africa is a wonderfully diverse and welcoming place, and the people there have taught me so much,” he said.
He has written three books about the continent, including travelogue “Riding the Demon,” short fiction collection “Disturbance-Loving Species” and an e-book about the civil war in Mali, “We Never Knew Exactly Where.”
“Now, I am writing about immigration, focusing on this debate in my own country.”
Peter has a fourth book out with Joanne Mulcahy, a Lewis and Clark College assistant professor. It’s a writing guide for travelers, “Writing Abroad: A Guide for Writers.”
Peter loves the warmth of the people in Concordia, the walkability and the quirky nature of the neighborhood and Alberta Street.
“Concordia is like a small town, with Alberta Street as the downtown.
Tamara Anne Fowler is Edit Kitten, a writer with 20-plus years of experience offering a sof ter, gentler approach to editing and coaching. Her personal editors — Armani, Max Factor and Spicey’D — are also her cats. Visit her at EditKitten.com or contact her at Tamara@EditKitten.com.