Picnic in the Ruins, Dr. Todd Petersen’s fourth novel, will be released on January 5, 2021. Picnic in the Ruins is a crime novel set in national parks, monuments, and cultural sites along the Utah-Arizona border. Pre-publication, the novel has already received local and national recognition.
Dr. Petersen has been immersed in the national parks for years. For a decade he and Dr. Matt Nickerson, associate dean of the Gerald R. Sherratt Library, led Southern Utah University students through national park expeditions across the country through the Partners in the Parks program. Meeting park rangers, experiencing historic and cultural sites, and learning about park management concerns prompted him to write this novel.
“It’s a crime novel also about national parks, which is something I’ve always wanted to write about,” Dr. Petersen said. “It’s a fun, engaging story mixed with an informational side. The more I talked to people in the community and at the university and the deeper I got into the research, the more the informational side came into the book.”
Early reviewers are recognizing the importance and relevance of the informational side of the novel. Picnic in the Ruins was featured as one of the Five Essential Literary Fiction Titles of January 2021 in Library Journal. Library Journal described the novel as, “An edgy black comedy examining crucial issues of appropriation and antiquities theft in America.”
Dr. Petersen is a professor of English at Southern Utah University and teaches courses in English, film, and creative writing. Picnic in the Ruins will be published by Counterpoint Publishing on January 5, 2021. For more information, to pre-order the book, and to stay up to date on bookish events, visit Dr. Petersen’s author website.
Todd Robert Petersen Professor of English
Specializing in formal structures of visual storytelling, creative writing, film theory, and aesthetics