Author Rick Niece
Growing up in picturesque DeGraff, Ohio, Rick D. Niece, Ph.D., was influenced by many endearing friends and neighbors who taught him the important life lessons that shaped his future. Considering himself a small-town boy who has maintained his small-town values, Dr. Niece shares his carefully pocketed memories with fond nostalgia.
His professional expertise spanning more than 40 years, Niece has served as a classroom teacher, a public school administrator and a university professor, provost and president. Since 1997, he and his wife, Sherée, have served as President and First Lady of the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, where they are the proud “parents” of 630 students.
Night owl or early bird?
Every day of my professional life as an educator, I have gotten up at 4:30 a.m. I enjoy being in my office at 5:30 a.m., and I accomplish a great deal before other people arrive.
One food you would never eat?
I never eat onions. I am surprised that onions are allowed to be classified in a food group.
Please tell us, in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
I am a memory keeper who takes readers with me on a poignant journey back in time to a safe haven of inspirational and carefully-pocketed remembrances.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
I have completed two books in my “Fanfare for a Hometown” series: Side-Yard Superhero and The Band Plays On. I am in the process of writing Book 3, And We Gathered Around Her, and I hope to write a fourth book to complete the series.
What inspired you to want to become a writer?
In junior high and high school, the teachers often asked me to read my compositions to the class. Those were acts of positive influence and confidence-building reinforcement. My classmates also seemed to enjoy my stories. The natural progression was for me to major in English as a college undergraduate and then to teach high school English. However, because I am a career educator, I have never considered myself to be a full-time writer.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I feel a great deal of satisfaction when people tell me that my books take them back to their own childhoods and inspire them to write and share their stories.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
My two favorite books as a teenager were ones that certainly represented two opposing views on the spectrum of being an adolescent: To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye. My books represent more of the Harper Lee perspective.
What is one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?
Writing a book is only about 50% of the process. When you complete the writing, you have just begun! The marketing, promoting, and schmoozing are more time consuming than anything you can imagine.
What is your favorite Quote?
“Never seem more learned than the people you are with. Wear your learning like a pocket watch and keep it hidden. Do not take it out to count the hours, but give the time when you are asked.”
When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
I had an uncle who could really whistle, and I marveled at his talent. He was able to imitate perfectly at least a dozen different bird calls. Thus, I wanted to be a professional whistler. I fantasized about a career being the First Chair Whistler for the London Philharmonic. That dream was shattered, however, when I enrolled in college and found out that OhioStateUniversity not only did not have a major in whistling, it did not even offer a minor!
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play the lead role and why?
I think that a movie would be terrific, especially if it were filmed on location in my hometown of DeGraff, Ohio. That way, a number of the DeGraff citizens who are featured in my books could star as themselves! I will leave the rest of the casting to the producers, but because of physical resemblances, I would suggest that William H. Macy portray me.
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
As a reader, I enjoy America’s classic writers: Faulkner, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Salinger, and Twain. But I have been influenced the most, interestingly enough, by James Herriot and his books about the small, rural town of Darrowby. My style and thematic structures are similar to his. The central theme of a veterinary’s practice in rural England runs throughout Heriot’s series of books, but within each book most of the chapters are autonomous and able to stand on their own. My books are similar in their format.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
The best advice concerning writing comes from William Carlos Williams, one of my favorite writers about the process of writing. Williams advised writers to write what they know about—what they have seen, lived, and experienced. Writers should write about the “local” before attempting to explore the “universal.” In fact, the universal can often be found in the local.
What do you do in your free time?
As a fulltime university president and part-time writer, I do not have much free time. When we do have the occasional day for ourselves, my wife and I enjoy going to movies, especially foreign films and small independently-produced films.
Favorite quote from a movie?
From Humphrey Bogart to Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Although I am a university president and a very visible public figure, I am quite shy and a natural introvert.
The Band Plays On
Celebrating the soul of America’s heartland, The Band Plays On is Rick Niece’s heartfelt tribute to friendship, community, and, most importantly, his father, Lewis Niece. When DeGraff, Ohio’s beloved band teacher is invited to direct an encore performance, “Lewie’s Alumni Band” gathers to celebrate with gusto. As the band practices for its final parade, Rick, his baritone in tow, reflects on treasured memories, relationships, and the legacy of a small town with indomitable spirit. The second volume in the delightful Fanfare for a Hometown series, The Band Plays On provides an entertaining, inspirational glimpse into lives richly lived…and shared.
1 copy of The Band Plays On
Open to US only