‘Debut Author Spotlight’ is a new feature here at Book Chick City. We will be showcasing a debut author each week from the genres of horror, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. We will give you all the relevant book information as well as an insight into the author.
Peter Heller is an award-winning adventure writer and contributing editor on Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure. He is also the author of several award winning non-fiction books, including Kook (winner of the 2010 National Outdoor Book Award); The Whale Warriors; and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo Gorge.
Peter lives in Denver, Colorado, and The Dog Stars is his debut novel. (Photo: Ⓒ Tory Read)
RELEASE DATE: 7th Aug 2012 | PUBLISHER: Headline Review| GENRE: Post-Apocalyptic
Hig survived the flu that killed everyone he knows. His wife is gone, his friends are dead and his only neighbour is a gun-toting misanthrope. Living in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with only his dog and beloved Cessna aeroplane for company, he flies the perimeter of the airfield or sneaks off to the mountains to fish and pretend that things are the way they used to be. He’ll survive, so long as he only takes his prized plane for short journeys and rations his remaining fuel. But, just once, he picks up a static-broken radio message from another pilot, and eventually the temptation to find out who else is alive becomes irresistible. So he takes his plane over the horizon in pursuit of the mysterious voice, knowing that he won’t have enough fuel to get back. What follows is scarier and more life-affirming than he could ever have imagined. And his story, THE DOG STARS, is a book unlike any you have ever read.
Hi Peter, welcome to Book Chick City. What is THE DOG STARS about?
It’s about two guys who live at a little country airport—a landing strip, some houses—just north of Denver, Colorado nine years after a super flu kills 99% of people. Our hero Hig has his dog Jasper and a 1956 Cessna aeroplane in which the two of them fly a patrol every day. The other guy is a mean gun nut who showed up with a trailer full of weapons. That’s how it starts. It’s about devastating loss, adventure, and love.
Tell us a bit more about the hero/heroine
Big Hig is a man who has lost everything but his dog. His wife was seven months pregnant when the flu hit. He loves to fly fish and will, at great peril, cross the plains to the mountains to fish and hunt whenever he can. He loves nature. He loves to fly his plane. He was a house builder who wanted to be a poet and he loves poetry. He loves many things, but is a very formidable dude when the crap hits the fan.
How did you research THE DOG STARS?
I just wrote about things I know. Once I did a story for Men’s Journal: How to be a bush pilot in three weeks. Got my pilot’s license in Montana in 20 days. It was so fun and scary. The ’56 Cessna in the book is the plane I own and fly in the mountains. I adore fly fishing, and hunt elk up in the mountains just out the back fence of our place in western Colorado. That house is a little adobe cabin I built by hand. It’s off the grid, so that’s where I learned about solar panels, etc. I love poetry almost more than anything. But much of the book is about heartbreak, human connection, joy—things we all know a lot about.
Is THE DOG STARS the first in a series or a stand alone?
It stands alone. What I want it to do. But I don’t think I’ll be able to keep myself away from the story for too long.
When is your favourite time to write?
Early morning. As long as there is a copious and certain supply of coffee.
Where is your favourite place to write?
Coffee shop, where else! See answer above.
What was the last book you read and enjoyed?
I am just reading The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll by the Columbian Alvaro Mutis and loving it. It is brave, beautifully observed and written, and funny.
Which authors do you admire?
A lot of poets: The T.S. Eliot of The Four Quartets and Ash Wednesday, Li Po, Wang Wei, Rilke, Derek Walcott, W.S. Merwin, Neruda. Also Haruki Murakami, Mark Twain, Virginia Woolf, Faulkner, Cormac McCarthy, the Marilynne Robinson of Gilead. The David Foster Wallace of Infinite Jest. Italo Calvino.
Describe yourself in five words
Crab waving claws in prayer.
Third of the way through the next novel. Different subject. Once you begin to make it all up there is no going back.