An Interview with Amanda Peters
As part of filling Station's new monthly interview series, Maryam Gowralli chats writing, reading, and lots more with Issue 79 contributor Amanda Peters.
Read the full interview below.
As a mixed race Mi’kmaw/Settler writer and published author in filling Station magazine, what does experimentalism mean to you? In what ways does identity affect your experimental practice?
I’ve never really considered myself to be experimental. I love reading writing that is out of the ordinary and challenges our assumptions of what stories are but I’ve never been able to write them. The piece published by filling Station was a challenge from one of my writing mentors at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), Chip Livingston. I was incredibly unsure but I just let myself have fun and to turned out to be a funny little piece. My mixed identity always makes its way into all my writing. I think when something is so essential to who you are as a person, it will find its way into your art. I love the way Indigenous storytellers, such as Leanne Simpson, are taking back stories and telling them in the ways they were always intended. I don’t think that is experimentalism, but a reclamation of story and I love it. I wish I could write like that.
In the last few years, you have received a number of awards and much deserved recognition. Most recently, under the Writer’s Trust of Canada, you were mentored by Katherena Vermette. Can you tell us about your experience? What does mentorship mean to you?
Being mentored by Katherena was such a wonderful experience. I was incredibly nervous at first since I was such a fan but she is so real and down to earth, it was just fun. And she made me think of things in my writing that I never considered. I have been fortunate enough to have been mentored by Alisa York, Christy Ann Conlin, Stephanie Domet, Brandon Hobson, Chip Livingston, Pam Houston and Katherena Vermette and I have learned so much from each of them. I don’t think I would be where I am without any one of these remarkable writers and teachers. If anyone is considering mentorship, I would say do it!
What was the inspiration for your piece, “Tasting Notes” published in filling Station’s Issue 79: PLAY?
I was in a cohort during my MFA at IAIA with two creative non-fiction students and I loved learning about something that was new to me. They were asked to write a piece in a found form as an exercise. I thought it would be fun to see if I could do it. Found forms are sometimes used when you are writing about something difficult or awkward. Writing about myself always feels strange to me but using the wine tasting notes and writing little tidbits about myself was fun. I love wine so it only made sense. The form was very Amanda.
In the spirit of our newest issue, let’s play a word association game. What are the first words that come to mind?
a. Fiction – Escape
b. Canada – Reconciliation
c. Slippery – When Wet. My first tape!
d. Clavicle – Bicycle and Broken
e. Paraphernalia – Stuff
f. Milquetoast – Where’s my Dictionary?
What was the last book you’ve bought?
Em by Kim Thuy
Name three writers who inspire you and why.
This is a mean question because there are just so many. I am very blessed to be friends and colleagues with some fabulous writers. Christy Ann Conlin: She’s a writer from the Annapolis Valley so when I read her book Heave I identified with it and understood that maybe I could be a writer too. Katherena Vermette because I love her characters and the honestly with which she writes. I admire that and try to understand how she does it. Pam Houston because she just goes for it. She’s a brilliant writer and a wonderful teacher. Since I am about to embark on teaching creative writing, I really want to emulate her and the way she brings out the best in the storyteller she works with. But there are so many more that I want to mention, so many I have learned from and admire!
What is in store for Amanda Peters in the near future? Any projects you’d like to tantalize us with?
I have my first novel coming out in April 2023 in Canada and September 2023 in the US. It’s called The Berry Pickers inspired by stories told to me by my Dad. I’m very pleased about this. Writing a book that others might enjoy has been a dream and now it's apparently coming true.
A bit about Amanda Peters: Amanda Peters is a mixed-race woman of Mi’kmaq and European ancestry, born and raised in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. In 2016, while working full-time for her home community of Glooscap First Nation, she completed the Certificate in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. That same year, Amanda was a finalist for the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia Short Fiction Award. In 2017, she won the short fiction award for her story Crows. Also, in 2017 the Writers Federation of Nova Scotia awarded Amanda the Alistair MacLeod Mentorship. Amanda was a finalist in 2018 for the Indigenous Voices Award for her short story, “Pejipug.” Also in 2018, Amanda received the RBC Emerging Artist bursary to attend the Emerging Writers Intensive at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. In 2020 Amanda was named the 2010 Canada Games Young Artist by the Nova Scotia Talent Trust. Amanda is currently enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at the Institute of American Indians Arts (IAIA) in New Mexico, set to graduate in May 2022. She is the winner of the 2021 Indigenous Voices Award for her work of short fiction Waiting for the Long Night Moon and was also selected to participate in the 2021 Writers Trust of Canada Rising Stars Program by Metis poet and novelist, Katherena Vermette. Her short fiction has been published in The Antigonish Review, Grain Magazine and The Alaska Quarterly Review. Her upcoming story “Reclamation” is being published by The Dalhousie Review in an oncoming issue.