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Neil Peart interviewed by Man Talking author Mike Heppner

Mon, Oct 4, 2010@2:46PM | comments removed/disabled

Back in February of 2009 Neil Peart reviewed the Man Talking series by Mike Heppner as part of his Bubba's Book Club Recommended Reading. Heppner recently interviewed Neil along with a few other authors for an article on his website titled Excerpts from Mike Heppner's Man Talking Project. The article gives some background on the history of the project along with a video and then Heppner poses a series of questions to all of the participants. Here are the questions along with Neil's responses, but I suggest reading the entire article to get the full effect.

State your name, your profession, and why you think Mike Heppner has asked you to participate in this survey.

Neil Peart: My name is Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist for the band Rush, and part-time author. I have published four books more-or-less in the travel genre, a number of magazine articles, and continue writing illustrated stories for my Web site, There I also review books I like, in a department called Bubba’s Book Club. I once gave a nice review to Mike Heppner’s second novel, Pike’s Folly, and like most writers, Mike can’t resist someone who appreciates his work, so we became friends.

Have you ever been in a fistfight? If so, did you win? If not, make something up.

Neil Peart: My last fistfight occurred at age eight, against another skinny little third-grader, David Carson. The epic battle took place after school, under the row of tall, spooky spruce trees filled with nesting grackles, a block from Gracefield School. The trees are gone now, but I like to imagine my old schoolmates staging annual reenactments at the site, gathering in a circle as one of them (they take turns) recreates my incredible “windmill” attack, arms flailing at David for nearly twenty seconds, until I got tired and he pinned me down.

Why do you write? Would you still be happy writing if you knew your work had no hope of ever being published?

Neil Peart: I have been writing “recreationally” since . . . around the time of that lost fistfight. Draw your own connections.

Should the creative impulse always be encouraged?

Neil Peart: Hmm . . . I guess so. You can’t help wishing some people would just shut up, though.

What are some things the publishing industry can do to get its head out of its ass?

Neil Peart: It won’t happen from the “inside” — mainly because business people are too busy covering their asses to get anything in or out of there! Despite the similar turmoil in the music industry, musicians continue to find different ways to keep doing their work and getting it out to people —just as Mike Heppner is doing here—though it sure is a struggle in “transitional” times.

Is it too much to expect someone who wants to write a book to know how to spell?

Neil Peart: Apparently F. Scott Fitzgerald and John Steinbeck were terrible spellers, and they both claimed that’s what editors were for. Personally, I prefer good spelling—editors have more important problems to fix!

What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses as a writer? As an anesthesiologist?

Neil Peart: In both professions, it’s a rare and valuable gift to be able to help people get to sleep when they need to escape their pains.

Since embarking on the writing life, what has surprised you the most? What are some of the most common misperceptions about being a writer?

Neil Peart: Biggest surprise? That your third or fourth book can be harder to get published than your first. Misperceptions? That it’s fun, autonomous, and carefree. And that you can make a living.

As writers, are we collectively doing all we can to make our work still meaningful to the public at large—of the world, not apart from it? Or do you fundamentally disagree with the premise of the question?

Neil Peart: Fundamentally disagree. Just do it.

Are you willing to accept Mike Heppner as your Supreme Leader, and are you prepared to observe His decree as Rule of Law, and, additionally, are you willing to follow Him to his outpost in remote Nunavut and tend to His hardscrabble fields and serve as His chattel and accept His verdict in all legal disputes?

Neil Peart: Have to think about that.

Mike Heppner is a very needy person. Please say something nice about Mike Heppner so he can put it in his book.

Neil Peart: Mike Heppner is a good writer and a nice man, and people should give him everything he wants. And do what he says—even unto Nunavut...

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