Melissa Anne Peterson - Vera Violet (in-conversation with Jonathan Evison)

In-Conversation with bestselling author Jonathan Evison!

Set against the backdrop of a decaying Pacific Northwest lumber town, Vera Violet is a debut that explores themes of poverty, violence, and environmental degradation as played out in the young lives of a group of close-knit friends. Melissa Anne Peterson's voice is powerful and poetic, her vision unflinching.

Vera Violet recounts the dark story of a rough group of teenagers growing up in a twisted rural logging town. There are no jobs. There is no sense of safety. But there is a small group of loyal friends, a truck waiting with the engine running, a pair of boots covered in blood, and a hot 1911 pistol with a pearl grip.

Vera Violet O'Neel's home is in the Pacific Northwest--not the glamorous scene of coffee bars and craft beers, but the hardscrabble region of busted pickups and broken dreams. Vera's mother has left, her father is unstable, and her brother is deeply troubled. Against this gritty background, Vera struggles to establish a life of her own, a life fortified by her friends and her hard-won love. But the relentless poverty coupled with the twin lures of crystal meth and easy money soon shatter fragile alliances.

Her world violently torn apart, Vera flees to St. Louis, Missouri. There, alone in a small apartment, she grieves for her broken family, her buried friends, and her beloved, Jimmy James Blood. In this brilliant, explosive debut, Melissa Anne Peterson establishes herself as a fresh, raw voice, a writer to be reckoned with.

"Vera Violet is the most authentic and exciting debut I've read in a long time. At once gritty and jaw-droppingly lyrical, Peterson's voice is a clarion call for the downtrodden and disenchanted. Reading Vera Violet is nothing less than a visceral and stirring experience." --Jonathan Evison, author of Lawn Boy

"In Melissa Anne Peterson's stark literary debut, her love of all that is wild shines through the dark depiction of a Pacific Northwest that we don't usually read about. For readers who like their novels to come filled with grit and desolation. Gorgeous imagery and use of language." --Buffy Cummins, Tattered Cover (Denver, CO)

"Tough times have come to the Pacific Northwest timber towns, once thriving and filled with the bustle of families going about their daily lives to support the folks in the timber industry. Now buildings are dilapidated and the town is half empty. There's not much for young people to look forward to or to do at all. When drugs get involved, there's no turning back. As Vera flees the only home she has ever known, she moves to St. Louis and takes a job in the city at a school. But all she sees around her is a reminder of what she has lost. This is a poignant, sincere debut novel by a writer destined to make a name for herself. You should get in on the beginning!" --Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

Melissa Anne Peterson grew up in a rainy working-class logging town in Washington State. She received a BA and BS in writing and biology from The Evergreen State College and an MS from the University of Montana. She has worked in endangered species recovery in Washington and Montana for twelve years. Her writing has been published by CamasFlyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, Oregon Quarterly, and Seal Press.