Archive for the ‘Book tours’ Category

2015 Highlights

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

Looking back on some favorite memories from 2015…

Kent Krueger in Door County
February: My wife snapped this photo while we were in Door County, Wisconsin. That’s frozen Lake Michigan in the background.

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March: I stopped for a couple of days in Oklahoma to visit family here. Here I am beneath a statue of Standing Bear, the great chief of the Ponca Nation, all of whom were exiled at bayonet point from Nebraska. When Standing Bear attempted to return to his home to bury his son, he was arrested and put on trial. In its favorable decision, the court declared that Standing Bear was, in fact, “a person” and had rights, the first legal acknowledgement of such. One small step for Standing Bear, one giant leap for all indigenous people.

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In Sedona, my favorite place outside Minnesota, for a little R&R. Love hiking among the red rocks here. And the sunsets, are they amazing! For those of you who know Sedona, this shot was taken on the trail to Chicken Point.

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April: I visited Ireland with my wife and sister. We’d been advised to enjoy the “bright spots” in the weather—good advice, as it turns out that conditions change about every ten minutes. The last time I was here was over forty years ago, on my honeymoon. Still a stunningly beautiful island. For those who are fans of the great John Ford—John Wayne—Maureen O’Hara 1951 film “The Quiet Man”, here I am in Conga, the village where the movie was filmed, giving the Duke a hand hoisting his co-star.

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May: Preparing to end (reluctantly) my time in Ireland. This photo was one of the last taken during our stay. My wife shot it on the shoreline of Cork Harbor, just outside Cobh, which was the last port of call for the ill-fated Titanic. She thought she was capturing only my image. Look closely and you can see that we weren’t alone.

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June: Here I am, deep in the Grand Canyon, rising at dawn, to raft the Colorado River. Nothing like the cold splash of whitewater rapids first thing in the morning to wake you completely to nature’s glory and your own human frailty.

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August: South Dakota is quickly becoming one of my favorite places. Here I am at the stunning Falls Park in Sioux Falls.

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September: My wife and me atop Pincushion Mountain above Grand Marais, MN.

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October: Here I am in Roswell, New Mexico, sight of the infamous UFO crash and coverup, with a couple of my new best friends.

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November: Caribou Lake, at the edge of the Boundary Waters, the very morning after the first snowfall of the year.  God, do I love this place.

Why Libraries?

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Tomorrow, I’ll drive almost three hundred miles to present a program at a library in Ponca, Nebraska, a town with a population of less than a thousand people. At a recent signing, a guy who’d seen the event calendar on my website asked me, as if I was crazy, “Why would a New York Times bestselling author bother to go to a small burg like that?” The line of people waiting to have books signed was long, so I gave him a quick, rather flip answer: “Because they asked me.”

Ponca Library

Really, it’s a question that deserves a more considered response.

These days I do about a hundred book events every year. A very large percentage take place in small libraries in rural communities. Towns with names like Vinton, Black River Falls, Spirit Lake, Eagle Butte, Hallock. Places most of you have never heard of and most generally with populations less than five thousand. Places that take me several hours to reach, often by backroads. Although I have a pretty good following and reputation, it’s not uncommon to discover that some of the folks who are there have never heard of me before. They come because having a real live author at their library is an event as rare as a two-headed calf.

So why spend all this time and energy, which might be channeled instead into writing more books, visiting places that are barely even dots on a map? Part of it is, in fact, the flip answer I gave the guy in the signing line: I do it because I’m invited, and I have a difficult time saying no. Part of it is that I usually ask for an honorarium. It’s a pretty modest amount, all things considered, and I donate every cent of it to the Native community in Minnesota. Part of it is that I can never resist an opportunity to talk about myself. But at heart, the reason is that I believe there’s no better mechanism for ensuring a free and democratic society than our public libraries.

Libraries are nothing less than the archives of our culture. These are the places that house the books that guide us to an understanding of who we were and where we came from, help us make sense of who we are now, and maybe point the way to who we might become. When our libraries and librarians are gone, with them goes everything we are as a people.

Free and open access to knowledge is an essential right in a democracy. Keeping our libraries alive and vital is as important to our freedom as anything spelled out in our Constitution.

So I drive thousands of miles every year and hope that in this way, maybe I’m helping the health of libraries, maybe giving back a little of what, over my lifetime, they’ve given me. But I confess, that another reason I go is that an event at a rural library is often accompanied by a potluck supper. And who can resist a good Midwest potluck?

Magna Cum Murder

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

I’ve been getting a lot questions about Magna Cum Murder, the wonderful mystery conference in Indianapolis next fall at which I’ll be a guest of honor.  Because it’s both intimate and vibrant, this conference is a perennial and special favorite of mine.  Kathryn Kennison, the lovely moving force behind everything, has been staging this gathering for twenty years, attracting top authors from around the world.  I’ve been on panels with Michael Connelly, Charlaine Harris, Anne Perry, Val McDermid, and Tess Gerritsen, to name just a few.  And Indianapolis is a lovely city, with a lot to offer new visitors.  I guess what I’m saying is that if you’ve never been to Magna Cum Murder, I really think this is the year you ought to give it a try.  I’d recommend registering soon, because the conference hotel, which is the Columbia Club, always fills quickly.  It would be great to see you there this October!

The Quiet Horizon

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

As another year is about to sink completely into the realm of memory, I can’t help but look back and marvel. I couldn’t have asked for, hoped for, or even, if I’d been able, crafted for myself a better twelve months. It’s been filled with the fruit of many labors. An old book greatly honored, a new book warmly received, and the contours of a future book roughly completed. Specifically, Ordinary Grace received an incredible number of accolades: the Edgar, the Anthony, the Barry, the Macavity, the Dilys, the Squid, the Silver Falchion. Windigo Island, the fourteenth entry in my Cork O’Connor series, appeared on a number of best books of the year lists. And the first draft of This Tender Land, the companion novel to Ordinary Grace, was finished. If one of the things that keeps us vital is steeping ourselves in the work we love, then it has been a year of great vitality and great passion.

As I look ahead now, what do I see? 2015 will be a quiet year in many respects. I will have no novel published in the upcoming year, so no long book tours, no long periods that will take me away from home and family. I’m looking forward to months and months of peace, of uninterrupted writing, of simply catching my breath. In each of the last three years, I’ve scheduled more than a hundred events—signings, author talks, workshops, conferences. This year will be different, blessedly calm, filled with quiet, I hope, the kind of quiet that allows deep contemplation to become possible, the kind of quiet that feeds our souls.

In terms of the writing itself, for those of you who are interested, this is what I’ll be working on. I will polish This Tender Land and prepare it for publication in the spring of 2016. I will complete the next in the Cork O’Connor series, a novel I’ve just begun to outline, and that will probably also appear in 2016. And I will begin work on a short novel, an idea that has been knocking around in my brain for more than a decade. So, clearly, I won’t be idle.

Every year is different from those that have come before. Although I have plans, I don’t really know what to expect. Life has a way of surprising us, doesn’t it?

And so, I wish every one of you the best on your own journey in the year ahead. May your days be filled with vitality, with passion, with love. And also with that blessed quiet that will feed your soul.

A few 2014 highlights:

William Kent Krueger
January: What exciting news! Ordinary Grace has received a nomination for the Edgar Award for Best Novel! I couldn’t be happier for this book, which is so different from those in my Cork O’Connor series that I was afraid no one would be interested in publishing or reading it. I’m tremendously grateful to Atria Books for having supported Ordinary Grace from the outset. So very grateful to the independent booksellers who made sure that the novel got into the hands of readers. And especially grateful to all of those out there who read the story and embraced it. Now, to pop the cork on a bottle of champagne!

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February: In my books, I write a lot about cold weather. I’m often asked if I believe you should write what you know. Definitely. Here I am with my wife, Diane, in our backyard. Yeah, like every Minnesotan, I understand winter pretty well. And understand, too, why the ancients used to have all kinds of orgiastic celebrations when spring finally came.

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March: Driving cross-country from the Tucson Festival of the Book to Left Coast Crime in Monterey. Had to hit the National Parks along the way. What treasures! Here I am in Sequoia National Park, just a few minutes from viewing the famous trees.

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April: I’m in Grand Rapids for the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College. I’m here with two thousand other attendees from all over this continent. This is one of the most amazing conferences at which I’ve been asked to present. The list of stellar authors across a broad range of disciplines is incredible. The focus, of course, is how faith informs our writing, but it touches on so many significant aspects of our lives. It is, quite frankly, knocking my socks off. (Photo taken at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum)

Edgar and Me
May: 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, 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?”

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August: I’m at Killer Nashville, which has just become my new favorite mystery conference! As a guest of honor, I received a stunning black Fender guitar. Here I am with Clay Stafford, founder of Killer Nashville and all-around great guy, living it up with my new Fender.

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August: When you do a signing in northern Minnesota, you never know who might be looking over your shoulder. One of Bullwinkle’s relatives dropped in on my signing at Piragis Northwoods Company in Ely and just had to stick his big nose between me and store manager Jordyn Nyquist.

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September: I’ve taken a couple of days off from the book tour to volunteer at our church dining hall at the fabulous Minnesota State Fair. Here I am working the food line—hot steam table on a hot day!—with my lovely wife. One of the things I appreciate about the dining hall is that for every meal someone buys there, our church donates a meal to Save My Starving Children, a great non-profit organization that helps feed hungry children around the globe. Food, fun, fellowship, and a worthy cause—what could be better!

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September: So, here I am among the brewing vats at the Excelsior Brewing Company for what was one of the most unique signing venues I’ve ever experienced. I talked to a very large audience, all of us pressed between these stainless steel behemoths and the serving counter. We drank really good beer, I talked really loud, and honest to God, we had a great time of it. Beer and books, a combination ordained in heaven.

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September: In Europe for the very first time! Sunset on the Danube.

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November: At Bouchercon in Long Beach. On my right, the Macavity. On my left, the Barry. Aren’t they lovely?

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December: I finished the first draft of the companion novel to Ordinary Grace. When published, it will be titled This Tender Land. Oh God, I think it’s good. A lot of revision still to be done, but I believe I’ll pop the cork on a bottle of champagne and allow myself a little celebration of this milepost. Cheers!

The Days Run Away

Sunday, 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.

halloween
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!