Peter Heller

Bestselling Novelist
NYT Bestseller
Travels from: Denver, CO

“Peter is an engaging speaker with an infectious laugh, a quick wit and a gregarious heart with exciting tales to tell. When you hear of his extreme adventures whether shooting the rapids or saving dolphins, you’ll aspire to be just like him … if only you could.” – National Writers Series, Traverse City, NI

Peter Heller is the national best-selling author of The River, the story of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip–a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence. Heller has also written the novels Celine, The Painter, and The Dog Stars. The Painter was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and won the prestigious Reading the West Book Award, shared in the past by Western writers such as Cormac McCarthy and Terry Tempest Williams, and The Dog Stars, which was published to critical acclaim and lauded as a breakout bestseller, has been published in twenty-two languages to date. The Guide followed in August, 2021 – it’s a heart-racing thriller which returns to Jack (from The River), who is hired by an elite fishing lodge in Colorado, where he uncovers a plot of shocking menace amid the natural beauty of sun-drenched streams and forests.

Heller is also the author of four nonfiction books, including Kook: What Surfing Taught Me About Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave, which was awarded the National Outdoor Book Award for Literature, Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsango River, and The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet’s Largest Mammal. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek.

He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in poetry and fiction and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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The Guide

Knopf |
Novel

Kingfisher Lodge, nestled in a canyon on a mile and a half of the most pristine river water on the planet, is known by locals as “Billionaire’s Mile” and is locked behind a heavy gate. Sandwiched between barbed wire and a meadow with a sign that reads “Don’t Get Shot!” the resort boasts boutique fishing at its finest. Safe from viruses that have plagued America for years, Kingfisher offers a respite for wealthy clients. Now it also promises a second chance for Jack, a return to normalcy after a young life filled with loss. When he is assigned to guide a well-known singer, his only job is to rig her line, carry her gear, and steer her to the best trout he can find.

But then a human scream pierces the night, and Jack soon realizes that this idyllic fishing lodge may be merely a cover for a far more sinister operation. A novel as gripping as it is lyrical, as frightening as it is moving, The Guide is another masterpiece from Peter Heller.

The River

Knopf |
Novel

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since college orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey.

One night, with the fire advancing, they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank; the next day, a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the same man they heard? And if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.

Celine

Knopf |
Novel

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. Inspired by the life of Heller’s own remarkable mother, a chic and iconoclastic private eye, Celine is a deeply personal novel, a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmarks, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.

The Painter

Knopf Publishing Group |
Novel

Peter Heller, the celebrated author of the breakout best seller The Dog Stars, returns with an achingly beautiful, wildly suspenseful second novel about an artist trying to outrun his past.
Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss. Years ago he shot a man in a bar. His marriage disintegrated. He grieved the one thing he loved. In the wake of tragedy, Jim, a well-known expressionist painter, abandoned the art scene of Santa Fe to start fresh in the valleys of rural Colorado. Now he spends his days painting and fly-fishing, trying to find a way to live with the dark impulses that sometimes overtake him. He works with a lovely model. His paintings fetch excellent prices. But one afternoon, on a dirt road, Jim comes across a man beating a small horse, and a brutal encounter rips his quiet life wide open. Fleeing Colorado, chased by men set on retribution, Jim returns to New Mexico, tormented by his own relentless conscience.

A stunning, savage novel of art and violence, love and grief, The Painter is the story of a man who longs to transcend the shadows in his heart, a man intent on using the losses he has suffered to create a meaningful life.

The Dog Stars

Vintage |
Novel

Hig’s wife is gone, his friends are dead, and he lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, Jasper, and a mercurial, gun-toting misanthrope named Bangley.

But when a random transmission beams through the radio of his 1956 Cessna, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life exists outside their tightly controlled perimeter. Risking everything, he flies past his point of no return and follows its static-broken trail, only to find something that is both better and worse than anything he could ever hope for.

The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet’s Largest Mammals

Free Press |
Nonfiction
For the crew of the eco-pirate ship the Farley Mowat, any day saving a whale is a good day to die. In The Whale Warriors, veteran adventure writer Peter Heller takes us on a hair-raising journey with a vigilante crew on their mission to stop illegal Japanese whaling in the stormy, remote seas off the forbidding shores of Antarctica. The Farley is the flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and captained by its founder, the radical environmental enforcer Paul Watson. The Japanese, who are hunting endangered whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, in violation of several international laws, know he means business: Watson has sunk eight whaling ships to the bottom of the sea.

For two months, Heller was aboard the vegan attack vessel as it stalked the Japanese whaling fleet through the howling gales and treacherous ice off the pristine Antarctic coast. The ship is all black, flies under a Jolly Roger, and is outfitted with a helicopter, fast assault Zodiacs, and a seven-foot blade attached to the bow, called the can opener.

As Watson and his crew see it, the plight of the whales is also about the larger crisis of the oceans and the eleventh hour of life as we know it on Earth. The exploitation of endangered whales is emblematic of a terrible overexploitation of the seas that is now entering its desperate denouement. The oceans may be easy to ignore because they are literally under the surface, but scientists believe that the world’s oceans are on the verge of total ecosystem collapse. Our own survival is in the balance.

With Force 8 gales, monstrous seas, and a crew composed of professional gamblers, Earthfirst! forest activists, champion equestrians, and ex-military, the action never stops. In the ice-choked water a swimmer has minutes to live. The Japanese factory ship is ten times the tonnage of the Farley. The sailors on board both ships know that there will be no rescue in this desolate part of the ocean. Watson presses his enemy while Japan threatens to send down defense aircraft and warships, Australia appeals for calm, New Zealand dispatches military surveillance aircraft, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence issues a piracy warning, and international media begin to track the developing whale war.

For the Sea Shepherds there is no compromise. If the charismatic, intelligent Great Whales cannot be saved, there is no hope for the rest of the planet. Watson aims his ship like a slow torpedo and gives the order: “Tell the crew, collision in two minutes.” In 35-foot seas, it is a deadly game of Antarctic chicken in which the stakes cannot be higher.

Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River

Rodale Books |
Nonfiction

A grand adventure-an elite kayaking team’s heroic conquest of the worlds last great adventure prize: Tibet’s Tsangpo River.

The Tsangpo Gorge in southeastern Tibet has lured explorers and adventurers since its discovery. Sacred to the Buddhists, the inspiration for Shangri La, the Gorge is as steeped in legend and mystery as any spot on earth. As a river-running challenge, the remote Tsangpo is relentlessly unforgiving, more difficult than any stretch of river ever attempted. Its mysteries have withstood a century’s worth of determined efforts to explore it’s length. The finest expedition paddlers on earth have tried. Several have died. All have failed. Until now.

In January 2002, in the heart of the Himalayan winter, a team of seven kayakers launched a meticulously planned assault of the Gorge. The paddlers were river cowboys, superstars in the universe of extreme kayaking who hop from continent to continent ready for the next death-defying pursuit. Accompanying them was author Peter Heller. A world-class kayaker in his own right, Heller has logged countless river miles and several major first descents. He joined the Tsangpo Expedition as a member of the ground support team and official expedition journalist, and was also granted the exclusive opportunity to write the book about the descent.
Hell or High Water is that book-greatly expanded from his coverage for Outside magazine. Filled with history, white-knuckle drama, and mutiny in one of the world’s most storied-and remote-locations, Hell or High Water is as riveting as any of the great epic adventures throughout history. Publication coincides with the release of a documentary about the expedition by National Geographic.

The Careening, Wonderful Road from Nonfiction to Fiction

Sense of Place in Fiction and Non-Fiction

The Poetry of Place in Writing Fiction

How to Survive a Career as an Adventure Journalist

Welcome to the Sixth Great Mass Extinction, Now Have Fun!

Rivers, Mountains, and the Alchemy of Storytelling: A Writer's Journey

Why We Go Into The Wild

A Writer’s Process: Technique, Method, and The Five Touchstones

A Talk and Reading on Each Novel: The Catalysts and the Process - Author Presentation

Peter Heller’s Upcoming Events

Honors, Awards & Recognition

NYT Best Seller
National Best Seller
Reading the West Book Award Winner

Media Kit

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