Todd Robert Petersen

Todd Robert Petersen is a fiction writer living in Cedar City, Utah, where he teaches in the English Department at Southern Utah University. Over the years, Petersen has served on the grants boards for Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. He is a Change Leader with the Utah Division of Arts & Museums and has served on his local library board. Petersen is currently a member of the Gateway Preparatory Academy board.

Petersen grew up in Portland, Oregon, earning a BA in Film from the University of Oregon. After a few years living and working in the San Juan Islands of Washington, Petersen moved to Flagstaff, Arizona to pursue an MA in English at Northern Arizona University, where he helped found the literary magazine Thin Air. In 2001, Petersen earned a PhD in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. He is now a full professor of English at Southern Utah University, teaching creative writing, critical theory, and film studies courses.

In 2007 Petersen published Long After Dark, his first collection of short stories, with an introduction by Brian Evenson. Reviewer William Morris called the stories “post-post-modern, post-ironic, post-political, post–911, post-Roth, post-Carver, post-Eggers, post-multicultural, post-realism.” Long After Dark was followed in 2009 by Rift, a novel set in Sanpete County, Utah. The novelist Brady Udall characterized Petersen as a writer “who understands and can accurately portray the small, out-of-the-way parts of this world where honor, generosity and sheer cussedness are still operative principles”

Petersen spent a few year helping to raise a family, then he returned in 2018 with a novel-in-stories published by Counterpoint Press. Kirkus Reviews described It Needs to Look Like We Tried as "an engaging set of stories of broken lives, jagged in structure but smooth in the telling.”

In 2021 Counterpoint will release Petersen’s fourth novel, Picnic in the Ruins, a dark comedy about national parks, the ethics of museums, and the illicit cultural artifacts trade.



  • Picnic in the Ruins, Counterpoint Press, 2012.
  • It Needs to Look Like We Tried, Counterpoint Press (Berkeley, CA), 2018. 
  • Rift, Zarahemla Books, 2009. 
  • Long After Dark, Zarahemla Books, 2006.