Northwestern grad shows we’re the same ‘In the Dark’Julie Peterson believes in Christmas every day. Her home office in South Superior is decked with lights, tinsel and holiday cheer. There she draws inspiration from quotes and photos tacked on the walls and even the electronic drum set in the corner. It is a place for this author to set her creativity free.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Julie Peterson believes in Christmas every day. Her home office in South Superior is decked with lights, tinsel and holiday cheer. There she draws inspiration from quotes and photos tacked on the walls and even the electronic drum set in the corner. It is a place for this author to set her creativity free.
The Northwestern High School graduate and Navy veteran draws on life experiences, imagination and nature to shape her work.
Her first book, “In the Dark,” was published in 2005. The black and white pages aren’t flashy. But don’t judge this book by its cover. It holds a truth everyone can relate to, Peterson thinks.
“I had an uncle who said: ‘If you think you’re having a bad day, just go to the VA hospital and you’ll realize how good you have it. There are people without legs and arms, all different conditions,’” she said.
Sitting at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center one day, Peterson closed her eyes and discovered a new world.
“If you shut your eyes you won’t see all that,” she said. “And you won’t judge a person for what you see.”
The first page of her book sums it up.
“In the dark we are the same.”
It took a few weeks for Peterson to write the story. She chose to self-publish the book.
“I really felt in my heart it had a purpose for being out there,” she said. “I thought ‘Yes, I could make a difference with this.’”
People who have read “In the Dark” have been impressed.
“It would be a really good book to put in any school,” said Lynn Chaffey of Superior, especially a middle school. Youth often judge a book by its cover, she said, making assumptions about others without finding out what’s on the inside. The book encourages them to close their eyes to really see people.
The book is available for $18 at Shabby Shed, 6101 Tower Ave. or online for $24 through www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.
As a youth, Peterson penned her own birthday cards and dreamed of being a poet. She won a number of writing contests, played in the band and on the basketball and softball teams before graduating from Northwestern High School in 1985. Two years later, she joined the U.S. Navy as a cryptologic technician.
“I wanted to be in the Navy and do my part,” Peterson said. “I was proud of what I did.” She took her service seriously, getting outstanding marks on tests and inspections from day one of boot camp to her honorable medical discharge.
An injury sustained on a naval base left her with a herniated disc and eventually led to her discharge. After two years of schooling at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Peterson moved to Madison and opened her own home care company. She moved back to Poplar in 1995 to be closer to her family. Her own health began to decline and Peterson found she had a degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis.
She has good days and bad days, and sometimes uses a walker to get around. In 2011, after a 20-year hiatus, Peterson earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, sociology and health. She hopes to work with people who have multiple mental illnesses.
While “In the Dark” is her first book, Peterson doesn’t expect it to be her last.
She’s working on a book of creative writing and poems about mental illness and a nature-inspired book. She brings writing material everywhere she goes, never knowing when inspiration will hit.
“Some of the best writing comes from the heart,” Peterson said.