Sunday, August 28, 2011
Karl Kronlage, St. Peter Killed God
I'm truly lucky to have the wonderful Karl Kronlage on my blog today. You might know him as the winner of Slushpile Reader's first publishing contract. Congratulations, Karl! And not only is he a talented author, he's a heck of a nice guy, and I'm excited to give you guys a glimpse into his world...
JLD: Welcome, Karl!
KK: Thanks for having me!
JLD: So Karl, What inspired you to write your book?
KK: The first short story I wrote in 1989 won an award. It was about a little kid who cried all the time. A couple of people told me how they really liked it but I thought I could do better. So I started writing about a pathetic child who got picked on by his brother and sister, his friends, and teacher and cried all the time only this time I felt it was much better than that story I wrote in college. Then I started thinking, hmmm, how what would this kid be like as an adult? I started molding Father Peter after I had written all this background and eventually I used the scenes I was writing as part of the sermons he preached. But it really all began by trying to write a novel about a child. That and poems about what it was like working in a psychiatric hospital. I sort of fused the two stories together and added a third element.
JLD: How long did it take you to write it?
KK: Well as you can imagine, having two stories and trying to create a third and making them all related was sort of like having a gig saw puzzle. Some elements didn’t fit and had to be thrown out. Others created. Poetry turned into prose. That was 2000-2001 and I went part-time to complete it and I liked the way things turned out only no one else did. I tried to query agents and got no bites. So I hired a writing coach who published a novel and taught creative writing for masters of fiction degrees in California. He sent a twenty page email outlining everything that was wrong with it and suggested reading about 25 books. Some were about writing. Some were fiction related to my book in some way. I guess I’m a little slow and not naturally a very good writer. I had to learn it the hard way. I’m envious of those who do it so effortlessly. Any way, it finally clicked and I went part-time again in 2007-2008 doing several drafts. Shortly
thereafter, I put it on Authonomy and made the editors desk in less than a year. Then I put it on Slush Pile Reader. I year later they agreed to publish it and we did a little editing.
Sorry for rambling. But it’s a hard question. It took ten years to finish it, but I didn’t spend ten years writing it. I’d take years off before going back to it. I guess I’m a little slower than other writers and hopefully next time I decide to write a novel it won’t take as long.
JLD: What message are you trying to convey?
KK: I believe that different readers will get something different out of it. First and for most, I want people to be entertained. If it’s not entertaining, who cares what the message is – it’s bad writing and no one would want to read it. Second, I try to undermine arguments and let the reading feel comfortable choosing to believe what they want. I mean I really try to present a need for religion, a problem with religion, and no easy fix to make religion modern. Some readers might find Father Peter simply insane. Others have told me they’d walk out of church with Father Peter. I’m not even that bold. If I attend a mass and the priest walked out of church, I’d feel embarrassed for the priest but I don’t think I’d walk out of church in protest with him. Poor Father Peter was too deluded to realize that.
JLD: What is your intended audience?
KK: Readers. Anyone and everyone. I’d like people who are religious to read it as well as those who aren’t. I love talking to atheists, Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike about their beliefs. I hope they would find the book interesting as well.
JLD: Who are you?
KK: I’m Karl Joseph Kronlage but I go by KJ Kron. No idea why. I thought that if I went by my name, friends I knew growing up might see my name and say, “Hey, Karl’s book is out.” On the other hand, most people who have read the book on Authonomy and Slush Pile Reader simply know me as KJ Kron. I was on those websites for a couple of years and more than 1,000 people read a bit of it.
JLD: Where did you grow up?
KK: In a suburb of Washington DC on the Virginia side. Catholic family. My parents had four children. Wow, I just can’t imagine having four children. I have one and we’d like one more, but four? I don’t know how people do it. I’m such a wimp; I know I can’t do what my parents did.
JLD: What do you do now?
KK: I just finished my 15th year as an English teacher. Two of those years I went part-time twice to write Saint Peter Killed God. I used to think that having the summers off would give me enough free time to write novels, but it didn’t pan out. I have tried a couple of things that have worked. My advice to writers: work overnight. There are plenty of jobs that need overnight workers. Half-way houses. Psych hospitals. Jails. Most of those places have downtimes where you can actually bring in a laptop and write. I know; I did it for four years. It’s a great idea.
JLD: Any projects forthcoming?
KK: I wish I could retire. There are so many things I’d like to do. I’m trying to learn Spanish. I’ve been spending my summers in Spain for six years now and can only handle simple conversations. I need to study about an hour day. I’d like to get back into shape. I like to read. Oh, writing. Yes, yes, I’d love to write novels but there’s only 24 hours in a day. Is there some pill I could take that would make sleeping unnecessary? With a full-time job and a fifteen month old, I just don’t seem to be organized enough to write, other than keeping up with blogs.
JLD: Where can you get a copy of Saint Peter Killed God?
KK: You can get it at Amazon or Barnes and Noble as well as Smashwords. I don’t know how other people are doing, but getting reviews and selling books is hard. Slush Pile Reader is offering gift certificates at Amazon.com that are worth $1,00. Stop by and enter the sweepstakes. We’re still hoping it catches on. Night seems to be growing with experience and I hope everyone there continues to gain recognition.
JLD: You have been a very interesting, exciting guest to have here today. Thanks so much for joining me! And best of luck with your sales!
KK: Thanks, Jess!