Literature The Daily Iowan

Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Peter Heller to read from his latest novel

Tonight at Prairie Lights, Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and author Peter Heller will read from Celine, which will lure readers into another world.

Previously Published in THE DAILY IOWAN on January 31, 2018.
Image Credit: Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan


Written By Rhiana Chickering

The new novel Celine, written by Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Peter Heller, may soon captivate viewers of the small screen.

Celine has been picked up by a network to create a television series based on the book. Depending on how well the pilot performs, Celine could be the nations’ next television obsession.

After writing nonfiction articles for such publications as Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, Heller decided to pursue the idea of writing a fiction article so he could have fun with the plot along the way of writing it.

“[My] first four books all grew out of those articles — they were all nonfiction — so when I wrote those, I always knew the ending [of the book] because [the events already] happened,” he said. “When I finally got a chance to write fiction and make [the plot] up, I decided that I wanted to be as surprised as the reader … I wanted to be shocked and thrilled along with the reader.”

Heller’s novel follows Celine, a quirky Brooklyn private eye, as she investigates a case involving a venturesome photographer who was supposedly mauled by a grizzly 20 years ago. Considering the photographer’s body was never found, his daughter has doubts about that conclusion and enlists Celine to help her discover what happened.

Interestingly, the characters portrayed in Celine are based on people in his life, especially Celine.

“Celine is basically really about my mom [who passed away three years ago],” Heller said. “My mom was an elegant private eye who found missing people, and she could shoot, [and] she could drive — everything in the book is pretty much true except for the actual case. When I wrote the book, I think I just wanted to hang out with her for another part of a year.”

Not only was Heller able to feel as though he was spending time with his mother, he was able to feel the thrills a reader feels when he or she is reading a mystery.

“When I’m [writing] a novel … I’ll write just past a 1,000 words until I’m right in the middle of the scene that’s exciting, and then I stop,” Heller said. “That way I just can’t wait to get up in the morning and keep going.”

With all the exciting happenings in his life, Heller looks forward to visiting Iowa City and reading at Prairie Lights.

During his time in the Workshop, Heller met inspiring teachers, traded books with fellow students, and carried on conversations about what they all were reading.

“I had two incredible years there, and I just loved it,” Heller said. “It just surprised me — I came from the mountains of Colorado, [but Iowa] was just so beautiful, and I loved it. I am really looking forward to just being back in town.”

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