The eight short stories in Peter Stipe’s first book Finding Our Way investigate the complex connections between people, particularly between the lead characters in the stories and those who are closest to them as their relationships evolve. Even though these eight stories are drawn from Peter’s personal experiences and from those of his friends, they are fiction. Peter writes about the way the stories might have occurred rather than being constrained to tell the stories as they actually happened. Sometimes the stories’ characters change as they struggle to find better connections in their lives; sometimes they don’t.
Two of the stories, Finding Our Way and Running Home, draw on Peter’s extensive experience as a marathon runner. In his prime Peter was one of America’s top distance runners, winning many races, placing in the top fifty in the Boston Marathon on six occasions and competing in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials. These two stories are semi-autobiographical , detailing the lifestyle of a competitive distance runner.
Sky City looks at the clash of two cultures; the ancient and traditional culture of Native Americans at Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico and the dawn of the nuclear age with the nuclear test at nearby Alamogordo, New Mexico. Peter’s father was a part of the Manhattan Project that developed the first bomb. Peter read an account of the first test in his father’s papers. Peter also has studied Native culture and art. He was struck by the contrast of these two cultures several years ago when he visited Acoma Pueblo.
Peter’s inspiration for his stories comes from many sources. A woman who worked with him in New Hampshire came to work on a Monday morning in the fall telling the story of her first deer hunting trip. Her tale led to The Deer Slayer. An experience Peter had one night when he worked the third shift at a hospital in New Hampshire inspired Anna. His story Seasons investigates his and his mother’s responses to the death of Peter’s father. A childhood memory of an incident in a small Virginia town in the 1950’s is the foundation for the story Lawrence. A mathematical game in Scientific American magazine led to the bizarre tale Moebius Trip. The sources of inspiration are as varied as the types of stories in Peter’s book.