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ARTIST PROFILE: Brian Heinz keeps churning out tales

September 28, 2018
By STEVE LESTER - Arts correspondent , Lake Placid News

WILMINGTON- Brian Heinz may beg to differ with F. Scott Fitzgerald's assertion, "There are no second acts in American lives."

As he approached middle age, Heinz appeared to be on a lifelong career path teaching science and language arts in the public schools. Then he got the idea to take a writing workshop on the east end of Long Island from French born author and part time Sag Harbor, New York, resident Bijou Le Tord.

"I signed up, and I was hooked," he said.

Article Photos

Brian Heinz. Photo provided — Steve Lester

Now 71, Heinz has 18 books in print of so many different genres that he deals with nine different publishers.

"I do fiction, nonfiction, fantasy, humor, coming of age, animal adventure, professional writing books for teachers, how-to craft books, and I write in verse and in prose," he said.

He also does children's books including "The Monsters' Test," which made the list of children's favorites by the Children's Book Council when it was published in 1996 after more than 12,500 children from all over the country read through more than 900 different titles.

In an email, Heinz wrote that the book is in its 12th printing "with no end in sight."

The story involves a party of scary monsters at a haunted mansion on Halloween who get into a fierce argument over who is the scariest. A contest ensues, but all the monsters cower in fright at the arrival of the true winners: a group of unwitting trick-or-treaters in full costume who come knocking at the door.

"The kids gravitate to the humor and the art," Heinz said. "When I'm writing, I'm thinking what'll tickle me. I have to like it first."

Heinz also likes being on location when he does animal adventure books such as "The Wolves," for which he spent considerable time along the Cheyenne River near Hot Springs, South Dakota, observing a wolf pack surviving in the wild about 40 miles from Mount Rushmore. The book's content is based on observed behavior, Heinz said, and is presented in such a factual way that the Library of Congress lists it as "nonfiction."

A Publishers Weekly review states, "Heinz delivers a spellbinding account ... The author's action-filled, present-tense account and expressive language quicken the pulse. The combination of text and art is formidable competition for any television documentary."

Heinz has published several books that involve the North Country as well with such titles as "A Coming of Winter in the Adirondacks," "Adirondack Lullaby," in which the sounds of the forest are likened to those of an orchestra, and "The Great North Woods" that discusses animal life in the area with particular attention paid to a rarely seen member of the weasel family featured on the cover known simply as a fisher, or sometimes a fisher cat.

Heinz refers to the fisher as "one of my favorites." It weighs between five and 15 pounds and is about 30 inches long making it the third largest member of the weasel family, he said. It is mostly nocturnal and is among the most ferocious hunters in the forest and possibly the only species that can be counted on to help control the porcupine population.

"Even a bear doesn't want to mess with a porcupine," Heinz said.

A fisher's tree climbing ability, however, enables it to hang beneath a limb waiting for the unsuspecting porcupine to walk above him whereby he reaches up and attacks his prey's soft underbelly.

Fishers tend to shy away from humans unless they're rabid. According to a June 10, 2008 New York Times story, Louise Sheuerman of Scotia was depositing some trash when a fisher jumped out of her garbage can, chased her into her garage and attacked her feet until she scared it off with a fire extinguisher. Police tracked the animal through the snow and shot it, after which it tested positive for rabies.

Sheuerman took rabies vaccines for five weeks after sustaining nerve damage in her feet.

"I was pretty shaky for quite awhile," she said. Apparently, in 200 years in New York state, I was the second person bitten by a rabid fisher. Couldn't I have won the Lotto? It would have been much nicer."

"The Great North Woods," meanwhile, won the 2016 Adirondack Center for Writing Children's Literature award.

In terms of his next book Heinz said, "I've been spending most of my work on this 42,000 word horror novel."

Titled "Peabody Pond," Heinz uses his science training to imagine a scorpion that is five and a half feet long instead of the usual five and a half inches. It was due for release in 2020 but is being fast tracked to come out earlier, maybe by this time next year, he said.

He and his wife, Judy, spend most of their time in their year-round home, a log house built eight years ago in Wilmington. He often gives lectures and workshops at area schools, libraries and book stores.

More information on the second act of his American life can be found at



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