Lost in Translation?

July 21st, 2014

My novels have been translated into many languages, none of which I can read.  I always wonder if meaning gets mangled in the process.  I’ll probably never know for sure, but a look at what translating has done to some of my book titles might provide a clue.  Here are some of my books with the titles they were given by my foreign publishers.  What a hoot!

Blood Hollow…..The Girl Who Died Twice (Japan)

Boundary Waters…..The Snows of Death (French)
Boundary Waters…..Night Trembling Wolf (Japanese)

Heaven’s Keep…..The Devil’s Mountain (Italian)
Heaven’s Keep…..The Citadel of God (Portugese)
(Two different approaches suggesting, it seems to me, two entirely different books!)

William Kent Krueger books in translation

Iron Lake…..Native American Winter (German)
Iron Lake…..The Whisper of the Wendigo (Spanish)
Iron Lake…..The Forest of Ice (Italian)

Thunder Bay…..The Spirit of the Beast (Finnish)
Thunder Bay…..Roar of Blood (Japanese)

Purgatory Ridge French editionOne of the titles that most mystified me at first, and then pleased me immensely is from the French edition of Purgatory Ridge.  It’s sold under the title À L’Heure où Blanchit la Campagne.  The Google translator gives me this: At the Time When the Countryside Whitens.  Suggesting snow, maybe?  “But”—my first thought was—“this story takes place in one of the hottest summers on record in northern Minnesota.”  Then my really brilliant media maven Sue Trowbridge enlightened me.  The title is a quote taken from a rather famous passage by Victor Hugo.  I’m quite happy to have one of my own pieces associated, even in a small way, with the work of such a literary giant.

If anyone has read any of my books in a translated language, oh would I love to hear from you and get your take on how well the story came through the process.

“Windigo Island” is almost here!

July 10th, 2014

Windigo IslandWe’re only a month away from the release of book number fourteen in my New York Times bestselling (I never get tired of saying that) Cork O’Connor series. It’s called Windigo Island, and I’m pretty pleased with it.

Stories come from so many places—your own experience, the experiences that others relate to you, news accounts, family histories. Windigo Island came as a request from members of the Native community.  They asked if I might write a story that would open the eyes of my readers to a horrific situation that exists in so many areas that have significant indigenous populations.  I don’t want to give away any of the plot, but it is, in large measure, drawn from the first-hand knowledge of those who’ve lived the nightmare.

Here’s a brief (and hopefully compelling) teaser:

Fear is who we are. In every human being, there are two wolves constantly fighting.  One is fear, and the other is love. The one that wins the battle? The one you feed.  Always the one you feed.

When the body of a teenage girl washes up on the shore of a malevolent place called Windigo Island, the Ojibwe of the local reservation whisper that it was the work of the mythical beast after which the island is named.  But Cork’s old friend Henry Meloux believes otherwise and asks Cork to investigate.  Because the safety of Meloux’s own family is at stake, Cork agrees.  Very soon, he finds himself pursued by monsters both mythic and all too real, and the net of danger quickly widens to include many of those he most dearly loves.  What is it that Cork most fears?  What is the wolf he battles?  Simply this: That he is incapable of saving them.

Publisher’s Weekly loved the book and gave it a starred review: Edgar-winner Krueger highlights the vulnerability of Native American youth in his excellent 14th Cork O’Connor novel…and reminds us of the evil of men all too willing to exploit the innocent.

Windigo Island is due out on August 19, but you can certainly pre-order using any of the links below.  Also, check my tour schedule to find out when I’ll be appearing at a bookstore near you.

I’m really excited.  I hope you feel a little of that, too.

Pre-order Windigo Island:
IndieBound | The Poisoned Pen | Simon & Schuster | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s

Edgar and Me

May 12th, 2014

Edgar and MeIn Minnesota, killing someone isn’t the worst crime you can commit. The worst crime is what we call here “getting the big head.” This means letting an honor or some publicly recognized good work make you believe that you’re better than other folks. In my own mind, this isn’t quite as bad as murder, but it’s not a good thing either.

I couldn’t be happier having won the Edgar Award for my novel Ordinary Grace. In so many ways, it feels like the culmination of a lot of years of hard work. Not just the writing of a dozen plus novels, but all the ceaseless labor to get those books into readers’ hands.

When I was given the award at the ceremony in New York City last week, the meat of my acceptance was simply this: “To write, to be published, to be read, to be appreciated. What more could any storyteller ask for?”

I have a great deal for which to be thankful. And I know something important that will, I hope, help keep me from getting the big head. It’s this: All storytellers hope for recognition and for reward, and in a just universe, we would all receive these things in equal measure. The reality, however, is that too many fine, beautiful, powerfully written stories don’t find a proper audience. It has nothing to do with their quality, but rather a mountain of elements beyond anyone’s control. Ordinary Grace is a good book.  Hell, it’s a wonderful book.  But there are others out there just as deserving of the kind of recognition this novel has received.  So in the end, I realize that I am both lucky and blessed.

I hope the same for all of you out there who are in pursuit of your own dreams, whatever they may be.

Scary Short Stories

March 30th, 2014

I’m a writer in part because of the scary stories I used to hear around campfires when I was a Boy Scout.  There was something wonderfully exciting in all the terrible possibility beyond the reach of the firelight.  In my adolescence, I became a spook story junkie.  Discovering Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House was an absolute—and chilling— delight.  I read and reread Algernon Blackwood’s The Wendigo.  I checked out every book on my library’s shelves by H.P. Lovecraft.  Naturally, the first stories I tried to write were scary short stories.

In my twenties, I became “a serious writer.”  For years, I labored to create the Great American Novel.  In vain.  Then, in the throes of a midlife crisis, I decided to write something people might actually want to read.  I looked around and discovered that an enormous number of folks read mysteries.  So I turned to writing crime, to pretty good effect.  Thus far, I’ve published fifteen novels in the mystery genre.

Games Creatures PlayBut I’ve never lost my love of the short story.  Because most of what I write is dictated by contractual obligations with my publisher, I don’t write short stories as often as I used to.  Usually I wait until I’m asked to contribute to an anthology.  Then the juices begin to flow.

These days, I publish one or two short stories a year, almost always of a criminal nature.  I find them so very refreshing because, once I have the basic idea in mind, it doesn’t take long to create the work.  And, oh, do I love the effect of a good short story.  It’s like a blow from a prizefighter, quick, unexpected, and it leaves the reader stunned.

Although I enjoy writing stories in the crime genre, it’s always a special treat when I can add a scary, other-worldly spin to the mix.  Charlaine Harris, the creator of the stellar Sookie Stackhouse series, has given me that opportunity a couple of times.  Most recently she and Toni Kelner, who’ve teamed many times to create best-selling short story anthologies, asked me to contribute to a collection focused on the recreational past times of not-so-human beings.  I wrote a fun, frightening little piece I called Hide and Seek.  The anthology itself is titled Games Creatures Play.  In addition to my story and stories by Charlaine and Toni, there are offerings by lots of stellar names in the mystery business: Jan Burke, Dana Cameron, Laura Lippman, and Joe Lansdale, to name just a few.

The anthology goes on sale April 1.  It will be available in bookstores everywhere and for purchase online.  I hope you give it a read.  And if you do, keep in mind that the chill you feel against the back of your neck might have nothing to do with your drafty old house.

The Days Run Away

December 29th, 2013

One of my favorite lines of poetry comes from Charles Bukowski, the great California poet, novelist, and postal worker:  “And the days run away like wild horses over the hills…”   I watch them go now, the days, in exactly the way Bukowski said, and every year they seem to vanish faster than before.  What they leave behind is a cloud of dust and memory.

The Bookshelf, WinonaAs the dust settles this year, and I consider the memories, I’m a little overwhelmed.  It’s been a momentous twelve months.  Between early March and late August, I published two books, something I’ve never done before.  I toured for both these novels, visiting old friends in bookstores across the country, and making lots of new ones.  In fact, I signed at eighty stores, mostly independents.  I love these booksellers who, in this market so dominated by the online giant Amazon and by big chains, are like scrappy kids battling bullies in the schoolyard.  In truth, I owe independents a great debt.  During the kerfuffle that went on between my own publisher, Simon and Schuster, and Barnes and Noble, when my books—and those of so many S&S authors—were ignored by the big chain, it was the independent booksellers whose dedicated hand-selling helped both Ordinary Grace and Tamarack County hit the New York Times bestseller list.  To all of you who own the small brick and mortar stores out there, God bless you!

William Kent Krueger visits the Duluth Public LibraryI also visited more libraries than ever before, thirty-five altogether, all across the Midwest and the Rockies.  Oh, do I love library events!  Those in small towns are especially memorable, because often they’re accompanied by a potluck dinner.  There’s nothing that makes a Minnesota author feel more welcome than a potluck meal.

I attended several mystery conferences and book festivals, traveled a spider web of gorgeous back roads, battled through blizzards and driving rain, rose again and again in the bleak predawn hours to catch early flights, and although all this travel was exhausting, I have to say I pretty much loved every minute of it.  I adore book events, the opportunity to talk to readers and answer their questions and hear their own stories.  So many of these stories are better than any I could ever imagine on my own.

So, when I look back, I see a year that seems to have fled quickly over the hill but has left me with a profound sense of fulfillment and gratitude.  It’s also filled me with that fire I so need, which is an anticipation of things yet to come.  There’s much to do 2014.  I’ll complete the manuscript for the next Cork O’Connor novel, titled Windigo Island, which is scheduled for release in August.  I’ll also plunge back into the writing of a companion novel to Ordinary Grace, a book I’m calling This Tender Land. 

I will, of course, continue to travel.  If you and I haven’t met yet, maybe 2014 is the year our paths will cross.  I’d like that.

A few 2013 highlights:

William Kent Krueger in Cabo
February: Just kickin’ back in Cabo. A week of R&R before Ordinary Grace is released.

Love is Murder
I had a ball at Chicago’s annual Love Is Murder conference. A stellar lineup of fellow genre authors (including Lee Goldberg and Libby Fischer Hellmann, pictured above) and a host of welcoming fans, always a hallmark of this lovely, intimate Con.

William Kent Krueger in Sedona
March: When God made the earth, he created two Edens. One is called Minnesota. The other is the Red Rocks area of Sedona, Arizona.

William Kent Krueger in New Orleans
April: Me, in the Big Easy with a few jazz greats. I play the harmonica–badly. We–my lovely wife Diane and I–had a great time in Nawlins and a terrific welcome from the folks at Garden District Books. 

Snow in May
May: Here I am beside my car in the parking lot of my hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, on what was supposed be my beautiful spring book tour. What the…? Six inches overnight.

Winona, MN
Just a couple of days after driving through snowflakes, the temperature hit ninety. Here I am with two of the loveliest things on earth: My wife Diane, and, in the background, the maze of islands on the Mississippi River near Winona, Minnesota.

Grand Tetons
July: With my family, I spent a week in the Teton Mountains of Wyoming in a cabin with no Internet access, cell phone service, or television. It was heaven!

Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, Minnesota
August: My wife and I spent a night in the famously haunted Palmer House Hotel in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. We had a marvelously spooky stay. The creepy goings-on were capped when a water glass that had been left on the abandoned dinner table next to ours flew off the table and slammed to the floor with a force as if someone had angrily throw it there. It shattered into a hundred pieces. No human being was within ten feet of that glass. We looked with astonishment to the bartender, who simply shrugged and said, “Happens all the time.” 

William Kent Krueger and Margaret Coel
I did a signing at Barbara Peters’ wonderful store The Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale with the always lovely Margaret Coel.

Gothenburg, Nebraska Pony Express
September: In Gothenburg, Nebraska, my wife’s place of birth. It was an important stop on the Pony Express route, and they’ve preserved the old log structure that serviced those intrepid riders.

October: Decorating for my favorite yearly celebration: Halloween! That’s me under the skull. (My wife has always been afraid success as a writer would give me a big head.)

Bouchercon 2013
Here I am at Bouchercon (Albany, NY) with friend and fellow Minnesota crime author Julie Kramer and my stellar publicist from Atria Books, David Brown.

William Kent Krueger visits the library in Detroit Lakes, MN
November: I spoke at the centennial celebration of the opening of the first library in Detroit Lakes, MN: a Carnegie, now a National Historic Landmark building. For the celebration, they commissioned a cake constructed as a perfect replica of that original library. The most awesome baked good I have ever laid eyes on!