First Draft Episode #184: Rhett Miller
Rhett Miller (find him on Twitter and Instagram), musician and writer, is a solo artist as well as lead singer of The Old 97s. His first book for children, No More Poems: A Book in Verse That Just Gets Worse, illustrated by Dan Santat (listen to his First Draft episode here).
Links and Topics Mentioned In This Episode
- How Rhett’s given name is Stewart Ransom, sorta like Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (listen to his First Draft podcast episode here)
- His childhood biking to the original location of Half-Price Books, now a national chain.
- Rhett tore through the Ian Fleming James Bond series as a kid
- And he got to meet one of his literary heroes, Kurt Vonnegut, in real life, but the interaction didn’t go quite as planned
- As a kid, Rhett’s mother would read aloud to them Helter Skelter, the account of the Charles Manson and Manson Family murders written by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry
- I discuss how Jon Klassen was on First Draft and discussed becoming a more empathetic, feeling person and artist as he grew older
- Stephen King books that had an impact on Rhett include On Writing, 11/22/63, and his book with his son, Owen King, Sleeping Beauties
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green being one of the books Rhett has read with his kids as a way to talk about difficult subjects, head-on
- How being inspired by writers like Raymond Carver led to a disagreement with his creative writing teacher at Sarah Lawrence
- “The Messenger,” Rhett’s most recent solo album
- “My Generation,” the song where The Who famously said they’d rather die than get old
- Willie Nelson, patron saint of Americana music
- Rhett’s buddy Mickey Raphael, harmonica player for Willie Nelson
- Other artists giving Americana a moment: Jason Isbell; Chris Stapleton; and Brandi Carlile
- “We Could Have Been the Cowboys,” Rhett’s article for Sports Illustrated
- Rhett wrote a paper about Gustav Klimpt for his then-girlfriend, who was getting a graduate degree in art history
- John Dickson Carr, an early whodunit writer, the inventor of the “locked room” drama
- Ben Acker (listen to his First Draft podcast here), who introduced Rhett to First Draft and, thereby, the illustrator of No More Poems, Dan Santat (listen to his First Draft podcast here)
- Megan Tingley, editor at Little, Brown
- e e cummings, the poet who inspired Rhett’s dedication to non-punctuation
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Every Tuesday, I speak to storytellers like Veronica Roth, author of Divergent, Michael Dante DiMartino, co-creator of Avatar: The Last Airbender, or John August, screenwriter of Big Fish, Charlie’s Angels, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Together, we take deep dives on their careers and creative works.
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