2020 Highlights

“Peace begins when expectations end.”

I embrace this quote from Sri Chinmoy, especially when I consider the past year. It’s been a turbulent, unsettling time in so many ways. Plans cancelled, dreams unfulfilled, lives put on hold. Giving into despair has been a constant temptation. Yet here we are on the threshold of a new year with hope in our hearts that in the days ahead we’ll return to life as we once knew it.

As I look at the past year, I’m aware that for me it’s been a journey toward acceptance. This has often been a struggle, but also just as often an awakening to other possibilities.

LCC hotel bar
This is the bar at the conference hotel for Left Coast Crime. Looks like an Edward Hopper painting of a sad, deserted night spot.

The year began with the sudden cancellation of Left Coast Crime, one of my favorite mystery conferences, which was held in San Diego. On the governor’s orders, all large gatherings were banned, and overnight the conference hotel emptied. My wife and I stayed on, but it was like an inn in a ghost town. However, in my time there, I met with the producers who are at work on the script to bring my novel Ordinary Grace to film, and I came away assured that the project is the right hands.


Immediately following the conference, we had reservations for a house in Sedona, four weeks of R&R. As fear of the coronavirus grew, we cut that visit in half and hurriedly drove home to Minnesota, where we found all our loved ones sheltering safely in place, masks at the ready.

My Trek bike

The following months would have been long and hard but for my acceptance that things were not going to be as they once were. I had to discover new ways of doing what keeps me grounded, centered, and positive. Enter my bike. I’ve had a membership to the YMCA for decades and have worked out regularly. With the Y closed, I took to my Trek bicycle for exercise and, as it turned out, restorative road trips. Ah, the joys of pedaling a trail along the Mississippi River or following an abandoned railroad bed turned bike path through fields and forests.

Cross country skiing

A long-planned trip to Italy was cancelled in the fall, but staying home in St. Paul offered me the opportunity to appreciate fully the beauty of autumn. Even snowstorms that swept in near Halloween didn’t dampen my spirits.

Kent on Zoom

In-person book events were out of the question, and I discovered the joy of Zoom. Since April, I’ve made virtual visits to more than 120 book clubs across the country and internationally. You can’t hug over the internet, but you can still achieve a sense of meaningful communion. I’ve loved every visit, and I think I’ll never go back to the old way of crossing the country for weeks on end to promote my work.

Lightning Strike by William Kent Krueger

Now I stand looking toward 2021. I don’t know much of what awaits me there, but I do know one thing that will occur, and it lifts my spirits enormously: the release in August of the next book in my Cork O’Connor series, a novel called Lightning Strike. It’s a prequel, a story of Cork at age twelve and of a summer of death that changed him forever.

And on a final note, I’ve signed a contract for two more books in my O’Connor series and another stand alone, a companion novel to Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land. The future looks bright, but I try not to latch onto expectations. I much prefer the peace of embracing whatever comes my way and making the best of it.

To all of you, a happy New Year.

26 thoughts on “2020 Highlights”

  1. Happy New Year to you. I discovered your books in 2020. The first one that I read was This Tender Land and it ranks as my favorite book of the year. After finishing it, I immediately read Ordinary Grace and loved it, also. I am very pleased to hear of the work being done to bring the story to the screen. I have also read book one in the Cork series. I intend to read them all. Thank you for your books!

  2. So happy to hear of the continuation of Cork O’Connor series! And the possibility of a movie version of Ordinary Grace! Your writing is comforting and inspiring and beautiful!

  3. Your positive, encouraging attitude is much appreciated in this troubling time. Am looking forward with great anticipation to reading the new books and seeing the movie. Blessings to you and your family in the coming year

  4. I do not know whether to be overjoyed or fearful of Ordinary Grace coming out in film. I just received my copy in large print,yay. Have read it twice on my Kindle but wanted a hard copy. Will be reading it the third time, which I have not done since Gone With The Wind,. Watch out for those Hollywood types they can really mess up a good story. Your characters make our world a little bit brighter. Thank you. Joanne Smith

  5. Wonderful perspective! It is what it is, right? I love following you on Facebook and thoroughly enjoyed your virtual visit to my book club this year. I loved Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land and cannot wait for the next stand alone. I have yet to read any of your O’Connor series, but I promised to and I will. Would it make sense to wait for the the prequel or just dive in to series?

  6. Thanks for putting out such an uplifting post, Kent. Acceptance is truly the secret to surviving such outrageous challenges. My husband and I are in the elderly class of life experiences but are fortunate enough to live in our own home so our risk was minimal as long as we stayed away from the crowds, used curbside pickup, and enjoyed our walks outside when the weather allowed. I have a Scottish Terrier who works very hard at reminding me when it’s time for exercise. She’s planted by my foot right now, staring at me.

  7. Have a wonderful New Year Kent and Family!
    We hope to see you on the West Coast and to have a chance to catch up. Phil is hopefully having his ankle replaced sometime in January which should give him plenty of recovery time before we head to Europe in September with several classmates. I look forward to your new books. I can never have to many books to read. Wishing you and your family good health in the coming year. From you favorite fans in Oregon. Phil and Sue

  8. Yippee! I have been wondering what you had in store beyond “Lightning Strike” (never can get enough of your books!) and today you provided the answer. Thank you.

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading “2020 Highlights” and appreciate your sharing with us.

    Kathy – Wheat Ridge, CO

  9. Happy New Year from a fellow Minnesotan!! Here’s to a better year of (hopefully) socializing by this time next year! I look forward to Lightening Strike. Stay safe and healthy…

  10. I have a place on my bookshelf for any books that you produce! I am glad that Cork will soon be back! Perhaps with the wintertime and Covid hibernation, I will get some of the stack of other authors’ books read! If you are looking for some inspiration, come on up to Ely…it is very quiet this time of the year!

  11. Happy New Year to you and your family. I have enjoyed 2020 as many others have. The year only brought back memories of my family and childhood. I’m a child of the 40s and went thru polio, turburculious, measles and chicken pox. I still remember lining up with my then 7 other siblings and being fed a tablespoon of cod liver oil by our dad. It must have some medicinal qualities as im still here and so are my older siblings. So thank you for all the great reads. I can’t wait till the next book is available.

  12. I’m looking forward to Lightning Strike as well! Delighted to know the series continues. May God bring you only good things in 2021. May your hopes and dreams be fulfilled. Stay happy, hopeful, healthy, and wise. Much love. S & B

  13. Ordinary Grace sits proudly and firmly on my shelf alongside my other top ten all time reads. I too changed tactics in 2020, determined to have something to show for all the redirected time. I do and hope to share my owns news soon in 2021, a year that will not be normal, nothing will, but we will find our way.

  14. Kent, I l oved both “Ordinary Grace” and “This Tender Land”… My book club is reading This Tender Land and would love a Zoom visit with you on the 16th of February. Is that a possibility?

  15. I love the books you write…I feel right at “home” in Aurora, MN. I have read all the Corcoran O’Connor books and have come to cherish many of the characters…especially Henry Meloux. I finished reading Desolation Mountain tonight. The last conversation between Stephen and Henry actually brought me to tears. I have preordered your next book and am thrilled that there are more books after that…thank you!

  16. I have loved your books for years! About 4 years ago, I turned my mother onto them and subsequently, couldn’t get her nose out your books for the longest time. Then Mom got sick. Talking about your books was one of our favorite pastimes; especially during the difficult treatments and hospital stays. She grew more and more curious about your character, Henry during the end. It’s been almost 2 years since Mom left us, but everytime I immerse myself in your work, I feel like she is reading over my shoulder! Can’t wait for the next one…it’s time for tea with Mom.

  17. Your writing and understanding of the human condition is so extraordinarily beautiful I have still not recovered from Ordinary Grace and have ordered several more of your books- what a gift you are to the literary world! and in such a dark time for so many-Thank you-

  18. I’m so thrilled to hear that ordinary grace will eventually make it to the screen. My mother and I have been reading This Tender Land together, but it is quite difficult for her because of pronounced hear loss, poor vision and growing fatigue from illness. (May you stay well for decades more!).
    She still has enough energy to watch shows over a few days, always with subtitles on. It seems film will be the only way she may be able to enjoy more of your work! Thanks for making sharing your stories a possibility for her and others experiencing physical limitations.

  19. I have always loved reading. It began with Misty of Chincoteague in 4th grade. Now I am 80 and just discovered your book, The Tender Land. Now I will have to find and read more of your books. I am hooked.

  20. I cannot even explain how much I enjoy your writing . You really feel your characters and make us feel them. Really feel like we know you and thru your characters. As a native Minnesotan i can relate to “up North”. Have met you at book signings and what a great person you are. So grateful you are continuing to write and really enjoy your insights. Good luck in any future endeavors.

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