SUU Professor Publishes New Novel

Cedar City, Utah — Dr. Todd Petersen, a professor of English and the director of Southern Utah University’s project-based learning program, recently published his third novel, It Has to Look Like We Tried. The novel explores the ways in which our failures work on the lives of others, weaving an intricate web of interconnected stories.

“I would say that the book is about failure and life changing events,” said Petersen. “But I should add that it’s also a comedic book.”

Petersen has been writing seriously for roughly 25 years. He published some poems and stories in the early 2000s and sold his first book, Long After Dark, in 2007. His next novel, Rift, was released in 2009. Petersen already has plans for his fourth book, Picnic in the Ruins, which is set for release in Spring of 2020.

Petersen prefers to hand write his ideas before transferring them onto a computer. He uses a program called Ulysses that allows him to write scenes individually and then weave them back together.

“These days a writer has to be proficient with computers to do the work,” said Petersen. “Surprisingly this includes social media and writing for the web.”

For his newest book, Petersen’s publicist set-up the chance to create a Spotify playlist for the book that was featured on the blog Large Hearted Boy. “It was really fun to do and helped promote the book.”

Balancing his work as an author with his full-time position as a college professor has been challenging.

“Time has become increasingly more difficult to come by,” said Petersen. “In addition to my work as a professor and author, I also try to be a good husband, parent, and community member. I often feel like one of those old performers who keeps dozens of plates and bowls spinning on dowels by running back and forth like a crazy person.”

For any aspiring writers, Petersen offers this advice: “Read. Read. Read. Read old stuff and new stuff. Read your competition in the marketplace. Read against your normal habits. Read philosophy and books about physics, photography, and biology. Read books by people who aren’t like you at all. If you stick to the little familiar neighborhood of your regular reading habits, you’ll be less likely to surprise yourself, and if you can’t surprise yourself, you won’t surprise a reader. Without surprise, delight is difficult to accomplish.”

Dr. Todd Petersen has worked as a YMCA assistant program director, literary journal editor, and English professor. Currently, he serves as director of an award-winning experiential learning program at Southern Utah University. He is a member of the National Society of Experiential Education (NSEE) and offers workshops through the NSEE’s Experiential Learning Academy. He is also a member of the Author’s Guild.

Petersen has a bachelor of arts degree in telecommunications and film from University of Oregon, a master’s degree in English from Northern Arizona University, and a Ph.D. in English with emphasis in fictional rhetoric and critical theory from Oklahoma State University.

Petersen’s new book, It Has to Look Like We Tried, was released May 1, 2018.

About Southern Utah University
Southern Utah University (1897) evolved from a teacher training institution to Utah’s designated masters university, offering over 140 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. With world class project based learning, unique undergraduate research opportunities, and a personalized learning environment (18:1) students lead projects mentored by professors. True to the University’s core vision, SUU faculty, staff and administrators enable students to honor thought in all its finest forms, achieve excellence in their chosen field, and create positive change in the world.

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