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Mar 11, 2020

Bestselling novelist, award-winning adventure writer, and journalist, Peter Heller, jumped on the phone to talk with me about his early life as a starving poet, breaking into journalism, how he makes things up for a living, and what it's like to be compared to your heroes.

"When I read [great] poetry or prose [it] comes through my skin and straight to my heart, and pretty much bypasses my head..." – Peter Heller

Peter is a longtime contributor to NPR, and a former contributing editor at Outside Magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure. He received an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop in fiction and poetry, is the author of four nonfiction books, and winner of the National Outdoor Book Award for Literature.

Heller is a notable bestselling author of a half-dozen novels including The Dog Stars – a lauded breakout bestseller, published in 22 languages – The Painter, and Celine (a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and winner of the Reading the West Book Award, shared in the past by Western writer Cormac McCarthy).

His latest novel, Edgar Award Nominee, The River (recently released in paperback), has been called a "... the heart-pounding survival story of .... two college students on a wilderness canoe trip – [and] a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence."

The New York Times called The River, “[A] modern-day survival tale .... [with] the urgency of a thriller,” and The Denver Post called it, "A fiery tour de force ... terrifying and unutterably beautiful."

**A quick note on the audio quality, Peter joined me by phone, and the interview vastly improves after the first two minutes, so please stick with it, it's a great one.

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In this file Peter Heller and I discussed:

  • How the author channels his fictional characters
  • The only way to start a novel
  • Why once you start "making it up" you can never go back
  • Productivity hacks for writing 1000 words a day, rain or shine
  • The importance of connecting with your #writingcommunity
  • And fantastic advice from other award-winning authors to help you relax and let it rip

Show Notes: