We love any opportunity to get to know our favorite authors better. So a lightning round of questions sounds like a good place to start. Here, we ask five quick questions (with one wildcard) about books, genres, reading preferences, writing style, and their secret to success.
William Kent Krueger wows readers with page-turning plots, complex characters, and lyrical descriptions of Minnesota landscapes. His Cork O’Connor Mystery Series entries and standalone novels alike regularly grace bestsellers lists and rack up awards, including mystery’s highest honor, the Edgar Award. His captivating new novel, The River We Remember, showcases his signature ability to create characters that are both flawed and sympathetic — and that feel like someone you know. Set in the 1950s in a small town still reeling from World War II, this suspenseful and heartfelt mystery explores the prejudices and lingering trauma of war. When a leading citizen is murdered, suspicions fall on a newcomer, a Native American vet who is married to a Japanese woman.
Here, Krueger shares his favorite books, why he loves mysteries, and his daily writing habit.
1. What are your all-time favorite books?
William Kent Krueger:
2. What’s your favorite genre to read?
William Kent Krueger: Mysteries! Not only because I write them, but because some of the most compelling prose these days can be found in the crime genre. In my opinion, crime novels have taken the place of what we used to call Social Novels (think The Octopus or Sister Carrie). They often explore important social issues in a dramatically engaging way. And who doesn’t love a good puzzle in the mix?
3. Which do you prefer: ebook or audiobook?
William Kent Krueger: If I can’t hold an actual book in my hand, I prefer audio. After all, storytelling is an oral tradition. It seems to me that the best stories are written in a way that makes them flow off the tongue. I do a lot of traveling for book events, and if I listen to a good audiobook while driving, the miles just fly by.
4. What’s your writing routine or process?
William Kent Krueger: I write at first light every morning, seven days a week. Pre-pandemic, I would go to a coffee shop and write for two or three hours. For the past couple of years, I’ve had to use my kitchen counter instead of a table at the coffee shop, but I still rise every morning at dawn (or before, in winter) and, with a cup of my own brewed java in hand, bend to the good work.
5. How much of your writing success is due to hard work, talent, or luck?
William Kent Krueger: More than any of the three options you’ve offered, I would have to say it’s passion. A love of writing overcomes so many obstacles. It leads to hard work, opens doors, and in the end, I’m sure, hones innate talent.
Wildcard: If you could have coffee/tea with anyone alive or dead, who would it be and why?
William Kent Krueger: I’d love to sit down at a table in a bar and, over a few beers, talk with Ernest Hemingway. He’s such a mythic literary figure and so important in my early journey as a writer, I’d love to experience the reality of the man. I wouldn’t mind it at all if John Steinbeck decided to join us.