“Tom Peek has lived a life worthy of Melville, Twain and Stevenson.”
Tom has explored diverse writing venues for four decades, impacting a wide variety of audiences—and never more potently than with his award-winning Hawaiʻi novel Daughters of Fire.
His work ranges from fiction and late-night radio comedy to university publications, and includes novels, public policy studies, newspaper commentaries, magazine articles, national park exhibits and award-winning video productions.
Tom’s writing reflects his four abiding passions: love and respect for nature, social and economic justice, racial and ethnic understanding, and personal empowerment through creative expression.
As an integral part of his writer’s life—and to honor his own potent writing mentors—Tom has taught many hundreds of writers and aspiring writers how to get started, keep going and dive deep with courage and conviction. Since 1991, his highly acclaimed Empowered by the Pen! workshops have been offered through the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, Volcano Art Center, the Pacific Writers’ Connection, and other venues throughout Hawaiʻi and in Canada. He’s also done editorial consultations, writers group facilitation and private mentoring. Many of his students and editorial clients are now published authors.
Tom’s diverse writing career parallels his unusual life, ranging from Mississippi “river rat,” South Seas sailor and Kilauea eruption ranger to political activist, public policy expert, English and writing teacher, and spiritual seeker.
Tom lived his early life on the Upper Mississippi on a backwaters island of Minnesota river folk, beavers and owls, and ancient burial mounds. When a powerful sand and gravel company tried to expand their strip mining Tom’s family mobilized township residents to fight for their beautiful and historically significant island.
Tom often visited Lake Superior (Gitchigami) where he sailed, camped, snowshoed and dove on shipwrecks. (Later, in 2001, he and his wife worked as volunteer lighthouse keepers in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.)
Inspired by his Mississippi and Lake Superior upbringing, Tom became an environmentalist as a teenager and later obtained a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, specializing in environmental and economic sustainability. In 1979 he joined the University’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs where for almost a decade he wrote policy studies and articles on environmental and other issues impacting Minnesota. He also brought fresh, progressive ideas into Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party as a party officer and a founder and first Chair of the Coalition for a Progressive DFL. Twin Cities newspapers are among the U.S. dailies that have published Tom’s editorials, and Twin Cities public access television stations broadcast his early award-winning videos.
In 1987, exhausted from years of academic and political work and disillusioned by the lack of public interest in sustainability during that regressive post-Reagan era, Tom took off on a vagabond journey that eventually led him to the South Pacific and Hawaiʻi.
That’s when he began writing fiction.
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