Monday, May 6, 2019

Where Writers Write: Pete Fromm

Welcome to another installment of TNBBC's Where Writers Write!

Where Writers Write is a series in which authors showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This is Pete Fromm. 

He is a five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Literary Award for his novels If Not For ThisAs Cool As I Am and How All This Started; the story collection Dry Rain; and the memoir Indian Creek Chronicles. He is on the faculty of Pacific University’s low-residency MFA program, and lives in Montana with his family. Find out more at

Where Pete Fromm Writes

I write at home, which, for a long time, was in Great Falls, Montana, in the basement of a little Craftsman bungalow, a basement I finished just as my first son was born.  My old office upstairs, looking out onto the backyard, an ancient multi-trunked crabapple where, in not too many years, I’d be building a tree fort, had been turned into our son’s room, so down I went.  And it was kind of perfect down there, enough high basement windows to let in light, but nothing but a wall before me, a slate blank enough to let me travel anywhere, to let all sorts of people wander in.  In the early years, I typed with my son in his carseat on the pullout shelf of the old oak desk, the tapping of the keys lulling him back to sleep.

But, ten years ago, we moved over the mountains to Missoula, bought the only house we could afford in the place we wanted to stay, a hundred year old Craftsman of some small grandeur that had fallen onto hard times over the last decades as a rental.  After tearing out the walls upstairs, moving doors, windows, building bedrooms for both of our sons, I started in on the first floor, where my office was, moving my desk out onto the enclosed but unheated front porch, where I could work in the predawn dark and chill, listening to the coyotes yip and howl up on the mountain, before trading the keyboard for the tool belt, another day of an entirely different kind of work.

My newest novel, A JOB YOU MOSTLY WON’T KNOW HOW TO DO, started amid the rubble of that tear down and rebuild, the main character, Taz, imaginatively enough, becoming a finish carpenter rebuilding, yes, a hundred year old house in Missoula with his pregnant wife, Marnie.  Their place is a wreck they live in, work on, dream of, their lives stretching out before them until, eventually, Taz is there on his own, amid the wreckage and dreams, trying to learn how to raise a baby alone, rebuild far more than his house.

So, here is where I work, and where Taz and Marn lived, from the day we moved to Missoula;

Through the tear down we all lived through;

And all the way to today;

…surrounded by books, and reminders of where I’ve come from, from a shot of my grandfather, the ashes of my wild old friend Sage, a scale model of a British fighter my father built from scratch, to photos of my sons, the knives the French seem to give to me every time I tour over there.  Even Hemingway and Twain have snuck in, reminding me to keep it simple, and to have some fun.  And, of course, Taz and Marn, hanging around, seeing how it’ll all turn out.

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