Meet Peyton Niemeyer, Woodfin Fellow in Fiction

Suz Guthmann interviewed Peyton Niemeyer, our new Woodfin Fellow in Fiction.

What draws you to short story (or fiction) as your form?

I love writing stories in shorter form because I love the simplicity of it. I’m ways it’s almost like the bedtime stories we are read as kids. It can be read in one sitting and you can have a whole experience in such a short time. Novels I love because you begin to bong more with the characters and you watch them change and grow. And writing in that form is so nice because you learn a bit about yourself through creating people that don’t really exist outside of yourself.

How have you found your writing is affected by moving away from home?

My environment has a large impact on what I write. When I was living up North, my writing was colder and on a certain level almost bleak. But now that I’m living in a warmer and more tropical climate, I noticed my stories started to feel more warm and more optimistic. I use warmer colors and warmer themes.

Who influences your writing?

I have a lot of influences, but my literary influences would be Hemingway, Kafka, and more recently Claire Keegan. I love Hemingway’s ability to say a lot with so little and I love Kafka’s magical realism elements in many of his short stories. And Claire Keegan has a way of creating settings that I like to rest in. She also says a lot with very little.

What writer makes you feel at home?

As I previously stated, I love Keegan’s settings and how you feel comfortable in them. Comfortable doesn’t necessarily mean happy or pleasant. But her descriptions are so vivid that my brain knows exactly what to paint in my mind’s eye.

How do you write? Set the scene for us.

When I write, I like to hand write the plot out in my notebook and then when I begin writing that actual story I mostly handwrite because it keeps my scattered brain focused. But even then, I often times bounce between writing in my notebook, to writing on my computer, to even writing in my notes app on my phone. Then when I am done, I put it all together on one document. I enjoy handwriting a lot of my stuff because it keeps me from wanting to revise as I’m working on the first draft. I can just underline something or cross it out or even just jot down a note to change something and I keep going.

When did you know you were a writer?

I wrote my first poem when I was seven, and I never really stopped. Reading was not something I really appreciated until I was a little older though. And I fell in love with it. The idea of creating something like that was fascinating to me and I got the chance to do that when I was a little older. I didn’t think I was going to turn it into a career until I was about ready to graduate high school and go into a major I knew I wouldn’t like. I was going to go into an OTS program after getting a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering. But before I even moved out, I changed my major to writing because I realized I wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. I love it.

What book do you wish you had written?

I am crazy about Tracks by Louise Erdrich. Her style forces you to slow down and take in everything she is trying to say. In that sense her work is almost like poetry because she makes you stop and really sit with every sentence, but not in a way that’s disruptive to the narrative. And magical realism is one of my favorite styles.