I started Women Who Rock Wednesday because I wrote a book about a girl who rocks and since I was a teenager, I've been all about female empowerment and help my fellow girls spread the word about their amazing projects. But the thing is, I know some pretty rockin' guys too who also do amazing work and I want to spread the word about them, too.
Much like Venus Zine eventually decided that Jack White was so awesome it was time to put a guy on their cover, I've decided that Daniel Kraus is so awesome that it's time for a new blog feature where I spotlight the guys like him that I admire. It'll probably be sporadic like WWRW has become because that is just the state of my life right now, but I'll do my best.
Now without further adieu let's met my blog's version of Jack White... Daniel Kraus, author of THE MONSTER VARIATIONS and most recently, ROTTERS!
I met Daniel at a local event with a bunch of Chicago area authors. We shared a signing table because Kraus and Kuehnert are pretty close alphabetically. Because of this I got my hands on an ARC of THE MONSTER VARIATIONS, which sucked me in and kept me up late in much the same way Stephen King novels did when I was in high school. I've been eagerly awaiting ROTTERS, especially because of its unique subject matter and it is at the top of my TBR pile for when I finish my revisions. This interview will tell you why....
Q: Tell us what ROTTERS is about and how you got the idea for it?
DANIEL: Roughly 10 years ago I worked for NBC in North Carolina, and I was driving a news van away from a hurricane when I passed a flooded cemetery. I had this sudden vision of two people battling through the muck to obtain something of value. It took me a decade to figure out who they were and what they were after. What solved the puzzle was the idea of a kid becoming an apprentice to one of these grave robbers. That kid became Joey Crouch, and the master grave robber became Ken Harnett (aka The Resurrectionist), and their epic adventure became ROTTERS.
Q: If you had a soundtrack for ROTTERS what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate to the story or characters?
DANIEL: Before I wrote a word, I decided I was going to write the entire book while listening to black metal -- a subgenre I knew almost nothing about. Eventually black metal became part of the plot, and a fictional band in the book became a real-life musical project. You can read all about it, and hear my playlist, over at Largehearted Boy.
Q: How did you get into writing? What/who were some of your early influences?
DANIEL: I grew up on Stephen King. By the time I was out of middle school I'd read his entire collection and, maybe just as important, had this special bookshelf on my wall where I kept all of his books. I strayed from King as I got older, but never in my life have I loved a writer as much as I loved Stephen King in middle school. He got me through those years. So although our styles are different, I think some of his plotting instincts are worked into my DNA.
I started writing stories in first or second grade and by the time I hit my King streak, I was writing notebook-length manuscripts, and then novel-length in high school. Despite all of this, I took a detour into filmmaking that lasted throughout my 20s.
(Note from Stephanie: And I found Daniel's books as impossible to put down as King's when I was reading them in middle school! Crazy!)
Q: You're a filmmaker, too, which is awesome. Can you tell us a bit about that side of your career and maybe how it links to or feeds your writing? You did some horror shorts, didn't you? Did those influence ROTTERS at all?
DANIEL: The horror shorts you refer to are the spectacularly terrible movies I made as a teen living in Iowa. Most of them were remakes of movies like Night of the Living Dead and The Blob. I can only hope that they had no influence whatsoever on ROTTERS. In truth, though, I don't think my real films feed much into the novels, either. They exercise entirely different parts of the brain. In fact, I've edited the past two films between novel drafts. It clears the head.
Q: What's next up for you?
DANIEL: I can't talk about specifics. But more books. More deeply unsettling books.
Q: I have two standard questions that I ask my women who rock and I think it is only fair to ask my very first dude who rocks interviewee as well. The first is a two-parter: what was the first album you bought and the first concert you attended? Be honest, we don't judge.
DANIEL: I'm not really sure which album was my first purchase. If I had to guess, I'd say Dokken's "Tooth and Nail," because it was something I wouldn't have wanted my parents to buy for me. I do recall getting my grandma to buy me the Beastie Boys' "Licensed to Ill," which I was pretty proud of.
We didn't have live shows anywhere near where I grew up, so my first concert -- although the word "concert" seems a little grand -- was in Iowa City right before I started college. It was for a local jam band called Dagobah. You're going to have to trust me when I say that this is an embarrassing admission.
Q: Tell us about your biggest rock star moment, perhaps it's a moment of real success in your career, a time when you met someone super cool and had that Wayne's World "I'm not worthy" moment, or just a time where you felt like you got the rock star treatment. I get a huge variety of answers for the questions, so it's pretty much whatever "rock star moment" means to you!
DANIEL: Great question. Getting the email from Guillermo del Toro that he was blurbing my book was pretty cool. Also, Random House hosted a big fancy dinner for ROTTERS a few weeks ago. I never thought my disgusting book about grave robbing would ever be celebrated with hot smoked grain mustard seed glazed king salmon and rich chocolate bombe. It boggles the mind.
Yes, now you can see why I think Daniel Kraus is made of awesome and ROTTERS sounds crazy good! So crazy good that I bet you want a copy, don't you? Well, guess what.....
Ladies & Gentlemen, we have a contest!
Daniel Kraus is kindly putting a signed copy of ROTTERS up for grabs to one lucky winner. (US Addresses only please due to postage costs.) We're going to do this the same way we do WWRW contests, soooooo
To enter all you have to do is leave a comment. However you can gain additional entries:
+1 for tweeting or posting on facebook about this interview (it's the first Guys Rock, Too Interview, so c'mon, spread the word/links!)
+1 for tweeting or posting about ROTTERS.
+5 for blogging about ROTTERS.
Note your additional entries in your comment as well as giving me an email address or some way to contact you if you win.
I plan to draw the winner on May 18, which if all works out with her schedule and mine is when I hope to have Karen Mahoney for Women Who Rock Wednesday.
Enter away and good luck!