Interviewer: …do what you love. You’re Dr. Neil, “The Banana Peel on PBS.” You get to talk to little kids. How important has your writing been in being able to allow you to do these things that you love?
Dr. Neil: The writing has been the launching pad. The first book I wrote gave me an opportunity to understand how writing can really make a big difference in your life. And now that you can get books printed as print-on-demand books for a few hundred dollars, you can get a book published and up on Amazon. So, it’s available to everybody. Now, you might not get a traditional publisher, you might only sell five copies, but the thing is, it will be there and it might become popular after you die. So, you don’t have to be depressed about sales of only five because you never know, and it can be there for eternity.
But for me, writing gave me an opportunity to then talk to people about what I wrote, gave me an opportunity to be on TV shows, it gave me an opportunity to make movies, it gave me an opportunity to start non-profits that were based around some of the books we wrote. One of my co-authors, we did a book called “Second Wind.” It’s a comedy about nursing homes. And she started with me, but she was really the lead person on this, really responsible for it, an organization on, “Second Wind Dreams,” secondwind.org, that gives wishes to people in nursing homes all over the world.
There was another book, “The Backyard Tribe” that Disney was interested in. It was a screenplay about a doctor who goes to Africa on a flying doctor mission, comes across a little girl needs heart surgery, wants to bring her back to the United States for the surgery. Her parents say, “No way.” Says, “Here’s my American Express card. The family can come too.” The whole family then agrees to come over but they bring over the entire tribe. They set up their village in the doctor’s backyard and the witch doctor starts treating people at all the hospitals in Atlanta and they all get better. So, that turned into a movie. “The Red Light Warning Signals,” is a book of symptoms that are life-threatening that we’ve now done videos on and turned into electronic stuff. You can go to a website and get the information.
So you have rights for books. They can go into foreign countries, they can go into movies, they can become columns in newspapers. There are so many spinoffs that it just opens all sorts of additional doors. And then the thing is, it’s also interesting to see the spectrum of response that you get when you write a book. Because one person might say it’s trash and the other person says they love it. And the more popular you are, the more you realize that when you create something, particularly, writing something, you’ll never get everybody to love it or everybody to hate it, but you learn so much by people reacting to it. And sometimes it tells you about the mentality of the person who is reading it. Because they might hate it but they might hate it for a reason and it was a personal thing that they had, so I don’t see it personally as… That it doesn’t mean the thing I wrote is trash but it might mean that that person has a serious psychological problem.
Interviewer: Just to finish up, let’s talk about your first…