HamLit Author Spotlight: Van Peltekian

Three Images: Gavel, Man's Shoe Walking, Power Line Starry Night

Finding Validation, Sharing Community, and Urging First Time Submitters to “Just Go For It” with Van Peltekian

by David Beaumier

True to HamLit interview form, editor David Beaumier sent a few no-pressure questions via email to strike up a conversation with early contributor Van Peltekian. Now located outside of the PNW–but ever close to our HamLit hearts–Van graciously agreed to share about the experience of publishing with HamLit, current creative projects, and advice for writers seeking publication.

DB: Hi Van, thank you so much for joining us for this interview! It’s great to be able to stay in touch even after you moved away. To start out with, how did you hear about HamLit?

VP: I think I learned about HamLit when I was part of one of the writing groups at Village Books. 

DB: We love all the submissions we receive from the Village Books writing groups! As you probably know, all of us have gone through those groups at one point or another. And speaking of all the submissions, you’ve been published in three issues of HamLit. Of all the themes you’ve submitted for, which do you think was your favorite? 

VP: I think that my favorite theme might have been Golden Age because I feel that for me, it was the one that was open to the most interpretation and also the most fun prompt to write for. 

DB: Did you ever start writing for a theme that didn’t end up coming together? 

VP: Yes, and it was for the Life Expectancy theme. 

The story I had set out to write for the theme initially was meant to explore the theme in a very literal way. I had given myself the challenge of trying to tell the story entirely in dialogue between two characters, which meant getting inventive with figuring out how to convey such things as action description entirely through vocal response.

I wrote two to three drafts and eventually put it on the backburner, and instead turned to a story that I had been outlining that also fit the theme which was “Thirty-Two”, the story that was ultimately published.

DB: Do you have a favorite story that you wrote?

VP:  They’re all my favorites for different reasons. I know that that’s kind of a copout of an answer, but they all symbolize different things for me. 

“Thirty-Two” (featured in Life Expectancy) is simply one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve written to date. Everything in the story fell into place perfectly. When I look back on it, there’s not anything I would change. It essentially wrote itself. 

“The Night The Stars Landed” (featured in Golden Age) was the most fun to write, an homage to the writers who influence me.

“Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing” (featured in Alter Ego) might hold the gold medal though. While I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s my favorite story ever, it holds a great personal importance to me. It is the first story I ever published. To add to that, I had initially come up with the idea and written its first draft way back when I was sixteen. It had a different climax, but the idea was relatively the same. I then rewrote it a few times over the years, eventually coming to its final published form. So I can look back at this very short piece in its various drafts and see how my writing and storytelling have improved and matured over the years.

Black background, wooden gavel; Thirty-Two Summer Solstice

DB: I love the different ways you connect to the stories and to the themes. I have to agree that I really loved “Thirty-Two”. That one was also special to me as that was from the first time I started reading for HamLit, and the blind submission form was totally new to me. Have there been any other published stories that stuck out to you in a particular way? 

VP: Tom Altreuter’s writing always stands out the me. The grittiness of his writing, and the way it flows is so wonderful. And there’s always a charming quirkiness underneath all the harshness. Between his entries in HamLit, and having been in one of the writing groups with him, it’s always been a joy for me to read his work. You can find his writing in the Life Expectancy, Second Place, and No Man’s Land issues of HamLit. I highly recommend. 

DB: Wonderful! I’ll be sure to ping Tom when this comes out so he can see your recommendation!

Has publication with HamLit helped with your own writing endeavors? 

VP: Being published in HamLit has helped because it has given me the validation that people like my writing. I’ve never been one to take feedback or rejection personally, but finally being published–not once but three times–has shown me that there is an audience for my work and has given me the confidence to continue submitting work to publications outside of HamLit. It has also introduced me to the publishing community of the Bellingham/Whatcom area (which I have since bittersweetly moved away from), but while I was living there, I was able to get my work published in print in a couple of Chuckanut Editions short story collections.

DB: I love to hear that. We adore being able to promote excellent writers like yourself who just haven’t had the chance to have their work put out there yet. What would you say is next on the horizon for you?

VP: I’ve sent out a lot of pieces to different publications. I have received a handful of rejections, haven’t heard back from all of them yet. But most importantly, whether or not they’re published, they’re out in the ether looking for homes, and they’re being seen.

I am currently working on three different stories that are in the writing stages, as well as four to five in the ideas stage. I am also outlining a screenplay and two podcast ideas, which are collaborative efforts. 

Hopefully these will all come together in some form or another.

DB: That’s awesome! I’m so glad to hear that you’re writing so much! As you rush forward into this journey, what would be a piece of advice you would offer to writers seeking to be published for the first time? 

VP: Community is a great thing for an author. I’d say one of the best moves I made was joining the writing group through Village Books. Through the group I got the feedback and support that really helped me look at my work as something that could potentially be published.  

Another piece of advice I can offer is: Just go for it. No matter what you’re writing, whatever the genre might be, there’s more than likely an audience for it. You just have to find the right place to display your work… but you’re never going to find that place if you don’t start sharing your work. 

DB: It’s so true, and it takes so much courage to start sharing your work, but the rewards and community are well worthwhile. Do you have any final thoughts for us? 

VP: I think HamLit is a terrific publication, and I always look forward for the next issue to come out. 

If you all at HamLit ever expand your reach outside of the PNW, you let me know. I’d love to submit again. 

Van’s work has been featured in three HamLit season/solstice issues: “Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”, Spring Issue: Alter Ego; “The Night The Stars Landed”, Fall Issue: Golden Age; and “Thirty-Two”, Summer Solstice: Life Expectancy

Power line in front of a starry sky; The Night the Stars Landed, Fall Issue

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