Q&A with Daniel Kraus
Interview with YA author Daniel Kraus
Krista Bean: What gave you the idea for writing about grave robbing in Rotters?
Daniel Kraus: It’s a story I’ve told countless times now: I was working for NBC in North Carolina and was driving away from a hurricane in a news van. I passed a flooded cemetery and had this vision of two guys fighting through the muck for something valuable in one of the caskets. But it took ten years of idle musing to figure out who those guys were and what they were after.
KB: How often are people or events in your real life utilized for your books?
DK: My first three books all take place in Iowa in towns like my home town, so that’s often based in real, concrete places. I rarely borrow traits or attributes from people I know well. I’m much more likely to take someone I barely know but who intrigues me – maybe a cashier that I see once in a while – and then use that seed to build a character around.
KB: The majority of your protagonists seem to be boys. Given how much of YA is geared towards female readers, do agents and editors ever consider books such as yours to be harder sells?
DK: Well, they don’t tell me that, but I think the reality is yes. It’s also hurting me a bit that I’m not writing about love triangles.
KB: How do you make a horror story sufficiently scary/thrilling/gruesome, while still keeping it appropriate for the YA genre?
DK: I give zero shits about what’s “appropriate.” I write the kind of stuff that would have fired me up as a kid, or would fire me up today as an adult, and then I let the agents and editors figure out what the hell to do with it.
KB: How did you become a regular contributor for such magazines, as Cosmopolitan, Playboy, Maxim, and Salon.com?
DK: Eh, it’s not that interesting of a story. Out of college, I started writing for a small but well-considered magazine. From there I was able to get a few gigs with Salon. From there, I was able to get a foot in the door at Maxim. And so forth. It was a lot of fun for a while, but you end up basically writing the same few articles over and over. So I got out.
KB: Has your filmmaking career had any influence on your writing career, and if so, in what way?
DK: No, I don’t think so. Maybe it’s helped me hone dialogue a bit, because you end up watching people speak the same things over and over in editing. One thing I can say for sure is that I spent my 20s hanging out with filmmakers and now my 30s hanging out with authors, and I can unequivocally say I prefer hanging out with authors. Make of that what you will.
KB: How did you land your first agent?
DK: Shot-in-the-dark email, he asked to see the manuscript, he sold it a few weeks later. Boom.
KB: What are your favorite books?
DK: You know better than to ask a question like this! I guess I’ll just list a few that I’ve read more than once, since it’s extremely rare for me to re-read a book. Watership Down, Lord of the Flies, The Martian Chronicles, Peyton Place, Marjorie Morningstar, Danse Macabre, Weaveworld, Frankenstein, Ghost Story.
KB: What’s up next for you?
DK: Random House/Delacorte is putting out a book of mine called SCOWLER in March 2013. It is the most messed-up thing I’ve ever written and may ever write. I’m also writing a book called TROLLHUNTERS with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, which is just about done. That one is a ton of fun—a pick-me-up compared to SCOWLER—and will probably be out late 2013 or early 2014.
Find out more about Daniel and Rotters on his website.