MacReads author transforms reality into fiction

“This book is narrated by a 13-year-old girl, and I’m am clearly not a 13-year-old girl, nor have I been one,” MacReads author Pete Rock said May 16 in Nicholson Library.

Diving into the real-life events of a father and daughter that were discovered living in Forest Park in Portland, Ore., Rock developed the realistic fiction of his book, “My Abandonment,” told through the voice of 13-year-old Caroline.

“I followed her voice a lot of the way,” Rock said.

Rock spoke about his inspiration after following the news of Frank and Ruth, a father and daughter that lived in Forest Park for four years, who had been discovered in 2004.

In writing through Caroline’s voice, Rock embodied her in order to understand her as a character.

“I spent a lot of time in Forest Park,” Rock said. “I went to the areas I thought Caroline would have gone, and I sat in trees to see what she would have seen.”

Rock discusses writing “My Abandonment” in the voice of the opposite gender

“I’m not a very autobiographical writer, I never have been,” Rock said. “I don’t want to write about a character who’s similar to me or has had similar experiences to me. I’m a creative writing author. I write to convince something is real, I don’t have to convince myself that those things are real.”

“My Abandonment” has now sparked the interest of film-makers, and Rock will tour Forest Park with potential producers late this summer.

Rock also shared his newly released novel, “The Shelter Cycle.”

Also based off a true story, “The Shelter Cycle“ was inspired by Rock’s time working on a cattle and sheep ranch in Montana that was near a settlement of members from the Church Universal and Triumphant.

Describing the Church Universal and Triumphant, Rock’s book is a dramatization of the experiences of the church members’ children.

“A lot of the people I talked to had been children of the church describe their childhood a happy, wonderful thing,” Rock said.

The book focuses on the experiences of one pregnant  women, who is reflecting on her childhood in the church, 15 to 20 years after leaving the church.

Rock is a professor of creative writing at Reed College, and lives in Portland, Ore., with his wife and two daughters. He attended Deep Springs College, received a bachelor of arts in English from Yale University, and held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University.

To learn more about Rock, visit his website,

Kaylyn Peterson

Managing editor

Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at