Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer
Memoir, humor, nature, music business
Date Published: February 28, 2021
Publisher: Encante Press, LLC
Be inspired, intrigued, and entertained!
Everyone has dreams of what they want to accomplish in life. Marty Essen’s childhood dream of becoming a herpetologist gave way to his dream of becoming a popular DJ, which led to his dream of becoming a big-time talent manager, which morphed into the dream of becoming an in-demand author and college speaker. While he achieved most of his dreams at various levels, he also realized that he didn’t necessarily have to reach the top to find success or happiness. Sometimes “almost” is close enough.
Hits, Heathens, and Hippos: Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer is a humorous and inspirational memoir that explores relationships and careers and how seemingly minor events can lead to life-changing results. Compelling stories have filled Marty’s life, and he tells those stories in a conversational style that combines his talents as an award-winning author with his talents as the creator of a one-man stage show that he has performed at hundreds of colleges across the United States.
This is a must-read for anyone faced with an unexpected career change, worried about finding and keeping the partner of their dreams, forced to take on bullies (whether individual, political, or corporate), eager for ideas to make life more satisfying, or just in search of a fun-filled adventure.
“A thoroughly absorbing and inherently fascinating account of a most unusual life lived out in a series of equally unusual circumstances.”—Midwest Book Review
“With thought-provoking explorations into making peace with family members who adhere to differing religious values, tales of his time as a talent agent, and escapades with gigantic rainforest monitor lizards—there is much to enjoy in Marty Essen's memoir Hits, Heathens, and Hippos: Stories from an Agent, Activist, and Adventurer.”—a 4/5 starred IndieReader-Approved title, reviewed by C.S. Holmes
Can you tell us a little about the
process of getting this book published? How did you come up with the idea and
how did you start?
My first two
books were nonfiction adventure-travel; my next three books were science-fiction
political-comedies; it was time to return to nonfiction again. Also, I’ve
always been an “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade” kind of guy. So when
the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the time was right to socially distance in my
writing room and create Hits, Heathens,
and Hippos—a book I had been thinking about writing for a long time.
What surprised you most about getting
your book published?
nothing. To use a common phrase from where I live in Montana: “This wasn’t my
first rodeo.” None of my books fit neatly into any genre, so publishing
companies never know what to do with me. That’s why I started Encante Press,
LLC. It allows me to write uncompromising books without worrying about having
to get corporate approval from publishers incapable of working outside the box.
Tell us a little about what you do when
you aren’t writing
I am a college
speaker that performs the stage-show version of my first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the
Seven Continents. I have been speaking at colleges for 15 years and have
performed on hundreds of campuses in 45 states. I am also a talent agent, who
started in the music business and now books other nationally-known college
As a published author, what would you
say was the most pivotal point of your writing life?
In 2001, after
traveling to the Amazon Rainforest and Australia, I wrote stories about my
adventures that were picked up as features by two newspapers. Once those
stories ran, whenever I would go out in public, people would recognize me from
the author photo and tell me how much they enjoyed what I wrote. Schools also
invited me to come and speak about my adventures. At that point I started
thinking, “What if my wife and I traveled to all seven continents, and I wrote
a book about it?” I did some research and learned that at that moment fewer
than one hundred thousand people in the history of the world had ever stepped
onto Antarctica. That meant that far fewer than one hundred thousand had
traveled to all seven continents. Next, I looked for books written by people
who had traveled to all the continents. When I found a couple of those, I
narrowed the subject to travel to every continent in search of rare and
interesting wildlife. There was nothing. That gave me the topic for my first
book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet:
Exploring the Seven Continents.
Where do you get your best ideas and why
do you think that is?
I live at the
edge of the mountains in Montana. Every morning I get up before sunrise and go
on a bike ride. That ride—with just me, the deer, and the bears—gives me
uninterrupted time for thinking. I often return from those rides with
inspiration and/or solutions for whatever I am writing.
What is the toughest criticism given to
you as an author?
When my first
book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet, was
published, the first place I sent it for review was to the Missoulian newspaper. The reviewer contacted me after reading the
book to say that if she wrote a review, it would be a scathing one—because I
“broke the fourth wall,” and that was something her college writing professor
had taught her was totally unacceptable. Her rejection devastated me. I had put
twelve thousand hours into writing that book and now worried that I had written
a piece of trash. Fortunately that reviewer was wrong. Cool Creatures, Hot Planet went on to win six national awards, sold
out its first printing, and fifteen years later I am still performing the
stage-show version of the book at colleges.
What has been your best accomplishment
as a writer?
That’s tough to
say, because I write books to inspire others, and that doesn’t always give me
direct feedback. But if I did my job correctly, my readers will be more likely
to work for, and to speak out for, protecting human rights and the environment
than they would have been before reading my books.
How many unpublished and half-finished
books do you have?
About the Author
Marty Essen began writing professionally in the 1990s as a features writer for Gig Magazine. His first book, Cool Creatures, Hot Planet: Exploring the Seven Continents, won six national awards, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune named it a "Top Ten Green Book." His second book, Endangered Edens: Exploring the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica, the Everglades, and Puerto Rico, won four national awards. His novels, Time Is Irreverent, Time Is Irreverent 2: Jesus Christ, Not Again! and Time Is Irreverent 3: Gone for 16 Seconds are all Amazon #1 Best-Sellers in Political Humor. Hits, Heathens, and Hippos is Marty's sixth book, and like all of his books, it reflects his values of protecting human rights and the environment--and does so with a wry sense of humor. Marty is also a popular college speaker, who has performed the stage-show version of Cool Creatures, Hot Planet on hundreds of campuses in forty-five states.
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