Interview with D. Krauss
What genre do you write and why?
Mostly horror and scifi, because the "real" world is far too frightening and depressing to write about.
Tell us about your latest book.
It's called Partholon, a title derived from Irish legend. A biological attack on the northeast
leaves it a
quarantined wasteland. John Rashkil, a university policeman in DC, survives the
attack and elects to keep doing his job, adding judge, jury, and executioner to
his duties. He tries to help his teenage son, who is outside the quarantined
area, navigate this newly Byzantine America, but things spiral out of control
rather quickly. US
It's the first title in a series, the next being Tu'an, which follows John's son, Collier, as he serves in what's left of the US Army. The whole series might be subtitled, "How the Next American Civil War Gets Started."
It's available from Rebel E Publishers.
Who are your favourite authors?
Ooh, boy, there are so many. Ray Bradbury is my all-time, overall first place winner, and I freely admit that his style strongly influenced mine. I am a huge fan of Mary Doria Russell, and I consider her novel, The Sparrow, as sharing first place with Michaela Roessner's Vanishing Point as the best scifi novel ever written. Kate Elliot is my favourite fantasy writer, and her Crossroads Trilogy is a primer for the genre.
Alastair Reynolds is the best hard-scifi writer around, no question. His Revelation Space series just blew me away. And when I need humbling, I pick up Umberto Eco.
Coming back to earth, I'm in the middle of David Downing's Station series, which follows the exploits of an American journalist-permanent-resident-of-Germany, holding a British passport and surreptitious membership in the Communist Party, trying to survive pre-WW2
What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
Pens are too light/ Take a chisel to write. Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
Nobody knows what I'm up to.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?
Because it has no illusions about this thin veneer of civilization we so smugly take for granted. We are just one temper tantrum away from the Dark Ages, ya know.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
I learned that characters will not behave. They are an unruly, anarchic bunch who are going to do whatever they want no matter how much I scream.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.
It's called The Ship to Look for God, and is dangerously close to actual publication. It lacks a cover and formatting, both of which are being completed by Damon at damonza.com and EJ Knapp of Rebel E, respectively (unintended poetry). It's about a government analyst named Otto Boteman, who suffers a massive heart attack and wakes up in what can only be Heaven, except God is nowhere to be found. So he joins a group of misfits slapping together a rocket ship to go find Him.
It was an absolute hoot to write. There were times when I was sitting at the keyboard just giggling, evoking suspicious queries from local residents. I didn't want to stop, so there's going to be two sequels: The Ship Looking for God, and The Ship Finding God. Looking is done; well, at least the initial version, and if I will just stop having so much fun rewriting it, then it'll be out post-haste.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
I am in both camps. I really wanted an agent and trad contract for all of my writing, but I never got much interest for Partholon or Ship or another WIP called Frank Vaughn, Killed by his Mom, which concerns the strange odyssey of a ten-year-old across the South in 1965 (deft slipping of a shameless plug in here, doncha think?). I attribute that lack of interest to this: my writing is of insufficient caliber to attract it.
That is the wise and safe approach any writer suffering constant agent rejection should take. I do suspect there are, these present days, some political factors that didn't exist five years ago; namely, that agents and editors are looking for photogenic MFA grads writing about strong women protagonists and/or politically correct exotic settings. I believe that's due to the interns screening the slush pile, who are, themselves, mostly photogenic MFA grads in possession of WIPS with strong female protagonists and/or exotic settings. This, of course, means I don't stand a chance of getting an agent, not being photogenic or MFA'd and without a politically correct bone in my body.
But that’s sour grapes. Agents and editors have to pay their mortgages, and if the present climate means my stuff wouldn't draw enough sales to cover their costs, then they'd be insane to take a chance on me. Most agents/editors are not insane, reports to the contrary notwithstanding. I regard my writing as niche, which doesn't make it in trad circles these days.
But it does make it for small press/self-publishing, and that's where I went. The Partholon series is with Rebel, and the Ship series will be my own, primarily because I want to control the pricing. If, at some point, I become photogenic or write something currently acceptable to the zeitgeist, then I will think about querying agents again. But, the odds of that happening are slim, especially the photogenic part.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Mostly doing all the necessary maintenance and chores to keep the house from falling down about our ears. I am genetically incapable of executing any kind of handyman function, so a lot of my efforts border on the hilarious. I'm a far more successful gardener, and usually have tomatoes and peppers and cantaloupes and watermelons to tend. A mysterious crop of pumpkins that I didn't plant always appears in late August. I blame aliens.