Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart is about to become a bona fide published author.
Peart, who has actually put out limited editions of half a dozen books over the years, is the author of The Masked Rider, to be published next month by The Pottersfield Press.
"It's about my trip to West Africa and a whole lot of other stuff woven into it, too," he said recently from his Toronto home. "One thing I really liked about travel writing is there's nothing that doesn't fit. Whatever you want to do - autobiographically, or philosophical asides - everything fits into the big baggy pants of travel writing.
"The publishing came about in an interesting way. There is a writer named Leslie Choyce, who wrote a book called 'The Republic of Nothing,' and every year or two I try and write to somebody and just tell them I appreciate their work. Sometimes it's a writer or a journalist - one time it was a TV weatherman - someone whose work I like and the way they do it.
"So, I wrote a letter to Leslie to just tell him how much I loved the book. That's really all I wanted to tell him, and he wrote back saying I'd won his 'nice guy of the month' award. He could tell that I could put a couple of words together, and did I ever think about publishing anything? I sent him a couple of writing samples, and among them was a self-published version of this book, The Masked Rider. (Peart put it out himself about five years ago.) He got excited about it and wanted to publish it and, unknown to me he has his own publishing company, The Pottersfield Press. So we got working on that."
Peart says his travel writing is "something I've done to develop the craft over the years. Whenever I travel, I keep notes and tapes and photos and try and turn them into a book. I've done six or eight of them over the years, just as a learning process and as a good way to develop the craft of pitching words together. (The Masked Rider), strangely enough for me, represented the turning point, the only one I could look at a year later and still like it. I thought I was reaching the point where I wanted to see about publishing, and I'd made a few attempts without much feedback from the publishing world. So I've been approaching it legitimately and getting some magazine articles published in last couple of years."
Peart's other gig shifts into high gear Oct. 19, when Rush's world tour kicks off in Albany, N.Y., behind its just-release album, Test For Echo.
We'll post the full transcript of our interview with Peart in the very near future.