I knew what I wanted to do when I was four years old in nursery school and stood on a chair and pretended that I was directing an orchestra. When I was around nineteen, I was playing guitar and decided that I wanted to be a folksinger. But the problem was, I didn’t know any folk songs, so I had to write them myself. I had a lot of friends who were also just wandering around with guitars, so I said, “We should all get together and sing two or three songs and put on a little show.” I got four or five of my friends and went to some shopping malls, which were just starting out, and set up little sing-along fests to promote them. The mall would put together a big campaign to promote us, and that’s why people would come and listen to us sing.

Michael Nesmith was born in Houston and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas in 1961. Although best known as a member of the pop group the Monkees, he has written hit songs (Linda Ronstadt’s Different Drum”) and produced feature films (Repo Man). This month he will attend the Texas Book Festival in Austin and discuss his debut novel, The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora (St. Martin’s Press).