Thursday, October 1, 2015

Today's Authtoberfest featured author is Peter Heller author of THE DOG STARS and other awesome books!

I came across 'The Dog Stars' one day while doing an author event at a nearby Barnes&Noble. This book was on the discount shelf. I kept picking it up, reading a few pages and setting it down. Finally I splurged and bought the hardcover before leaving. 'The Dog Stars' was a great read, poetic and perfectly paced. I really really loved it. 

Let's see what Peter had to say about reading, writing and zombies!

1. It’s the zombie apocalypse and writers have got to stick together to survive. Pick 3 authors to be on your zombie apocalypse killing team and tell us why you’d choose them.
Peter says: Denis Johnson. Because he’s a crazy f**ker and if he has as much energy as his fiction he’d be a nonstop killing machine. C.D. Wright, the poet. She’s a truthteller, very brave. She’d wade in with a bat if you were in trouble. Stephen King, of course. Anybody who has written that many books about scary crap has superhuman stamina and is pretty much afraid of nothing.

2. If Stephen King and J. K. Rowling were drowning in a river, who would you save first? And now you have to tell us why.
Peter says: Oh, here he is, again, drowning now. Well, they would save each other. The river is actually the liquid incarnation of King’s dead infant identical twin, and Rowling would trick the evil imp into running up onto the shore by offering him a scholarship to Hogwarts and a synopsis of Book Eight.
Meredith says: Best response I have ever received for that question. Flat out.

3. We authors are voracious readers. My TBR list is approximately 8 miles long. What are you currently reading?
Peter says: Vila-Matas, The Illogic of Kassel; Collected Poems of Robert Pinsky.

4. What is the one book that you could read a million times and never get bored with?
Peter says: Any of Rexroth’s translations of the Tang Dynasty poets; Poems of the Masters, trans. By Red Pine.

5. Last year my favorite read was The Martian by Andy Weir. What was your best read of 2014?
Peter says: The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by the Colombian Alvaro Mutis.

6. This year my favorite read has been The Dog Stars by Peter Heller. What’s the best book you’ve read so far in 2015?
Peter says: Hey, thanks! I am loving this latest Vila-Matas, mentioned above. He’s a genius. From Barcelona. Makes me want to move there.
Meredith says:  :)

7. You’re a writer by day and a superhero by night. (Take off those geeky glasses Superman) What’s your superpower?
Peter says: I can drink as much coffee as I want and still sleep at night.

8. I have writing spots all over my house: my desk, my couch, the patio, and my bed. Where’s your favorite spot to write?
Peter says: Couch in local coffee shop.

9. We’re supposed to love all of our children equally, but there are some scenes I’ve written that really stick out in my mind. Tell us your favorite scene from your book The Dog Stars.
Peter says: It’s the one where Hig is heartbroken and walking out of the trees and across the sage plains pulling a kayak sled and he gets a call crackling on his radio from his gun-nut associate Bangley who is in a watchtower a mile away, and Bangley tells him that he is being followed by nine marauders. Tells Hig to walk forward calmly and to start singing and he will direct him.
Meredith says: I loved that scene! I think that was the first "oh crap, these dudes are in trouble" feeling I had when reading.

10. Sometimes a little too much of myself slips into my characters. Which one of your characters most resembles you?
Peter says: Hig is a lot like me. He loves what I love, shies away from what I shy from. Loves to fish, fly his plane, loves his dog Jasper. Poetry. Kind of a dreamer. But he is definitely not me: he is six-one and he can cook.

11. I’ve always got tunes rocking while I’m writing. Tell us five songs that are on your playlist.
Peter says: Rain. Thunder. Rain.
Meredith says: It's really the best 'song' to write to.

12. If you could tell an aspiring author one tiny tidbit of information, what would you say?
Peter says: Write a set amount of words every day. Every one. Pick an amount that you can get done with good energy and be very disciplined in not writing under or much over. But always stop in the middle of an exciting thought or scene. Write your quota and keep going a little longer if you have to, so you’re smack in the middle of something. Then make yourself stop. That way you can’t wake to jump out of bed and continue the next morning.

Connect with Peter Heller

(Read about Peter Heller's life below and let me know afterwards if you also feel like you've done absolutely nothing for your entire existence.)

About Peter Heller:

Peter Heller is a longtime contributor to NPR, a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and Men's Journal, and a frequent contributor to Businessweek. He is an award winning adventure writer and the author of four books of literary nonfiction. He lives in Denver. Heller was born and raised in New York. He attended high school in Vermont and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he became an outdoorsman and whitewater kayaker. He traveled the world as an expedition kayaker, writing about challenging descents in the Pamirs, the Tien Shan mountains, the Caucuses, Central America and Peru.At the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he received an MFA in fiction and poetry, he won a Michener fellowship for his epic poem "The Psalms of Malvine." He has worked as a dishwasher, construction worker, logger, offshore fisherman, kayak instructor, river guide, and world class pizza deliverer. Some of these stories can be found in Set Free in China, Sojourns on the Edge. In the winter of 2002 he joined, on the ground team, the most ambitious whitewater expedition in history as it made its way through the treacherous Tsangpo Gorge in Eastern Tibet. He chronicled what has been called The Last Great Adventure Prize for Outside, and in his book Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River.

The gorge -- three times deeper than the Grand Canyon -- is sacred to Buddhists, and is the inspiration for James Hilton's Shangri La. It is so deep there are tigers and leopards in the bottom and raging 25,000 foot peaks at the top, and so remote and difficult to traverse that a mythical waterfall, sought by explorers since Victorian times, was documented for the first time in 1998 by a team from National Geographic.

The book won a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, was number three on Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" of all pop culture, and a Denver Post review ranked it "up there with any adventure writing ever written."

In December, 2005, on assignment for National Geographic Adventure, he joined the crew of an eco-pirate ship belonging to the radical environmental group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as it sailed to Antarctica to hunt down and disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet.

The ship is all black, sails under a jolly Roger, and two days south of Tasmania the engineers came on deck and welded a big blade called the Can Opener to the bow--a weapon designed to gut the hulls of ships. In The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet's Largest Mammals, Heller recounts fierce gales, forty foot seas, rammings, near-sinkings, and a committed crew's clear-eyed willingness to die to save a whale. The book was published by Simon and Schuster's Free Press in September, 2007.

In the fall of 2007 Heller was invited by the team who made the acclaimed film The Cove to accompany them in a clandestine filming mission into the guarded dolphin-killing cove in Taiji, Japan. Heller paddled into the inlet with four other surfers while a pod of pilot whales was being slaughtered. He was outfitted with a helmet cam, and the terrible footage can be seen in the movie. The Cove went on to win an Academy Award. Heller wrote about the experience for Men's Journal.

Heller's most recent memoir, about surfing from California down the coast of Mexico, Kook: What Surfing Taught Me about Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave, was published by The Free Press in 2010. Can a man drop everything in the middle of his life, pick up a surfboard and, apprenticing himself to local masters, learn to ride a big, fast wave in six months? Can he learn to finally love and commit to someone else? Can he care for the oceans, which are in crisis? The answers are in. The book won a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, which called it a "powerful memoir...about love: of a woman, of living, of the sea." It also won the National Outdoor Book Award for Literature.

Heller's debut novel, The Dog Stars, is being published by Knopf in August, 2012. It will also be published by Headline Review in Great Britain and Australia, and Actes Sud in France.


  1. Good interview, and good answers... particularly for #2!

    1. that response was one of the most creative. Loved it.