Interview with Slush Pile Reader author KJ Kronlage
Not from Night Publishing or a self-published author this time. Karl Joseph’s debut Saint Peter Killed God was published by the Indie publisher: Slush Pile Reader. KJ will tell you about this special book and how it developed in his interview with me.
To me it was clear when I read a sample of Saint Peter Killed God that KJ is a writer with a background in creative writing. Oh yes, he even teaches the subject! As a result, his writing is smooth & flawless and he sits right on top of his story, all strings attached. When reading KJ’s work you feel you’re in very capable hands, just relax, dive into the book.
I am a Catholic myself so I think the topic “how worn out is our Church today?” raises an interesting and necessary discussion.
Where do you live (town, country)? Were you born and bred there?
My wife is Spanish so part of the deal is that we live ten weeks of the year in Spain, which might sound exotic, but really we spend a lot of time with relatives and I struggle a little with the language. The rest of the year we live in Woodbridge, which is about 25 minutes from Washington DC. And close to Fairfax where I was born.
What kind of food do you like? Are you a good cook? How important is food to you?
I love going to Indian or Thai restaurants. I especially like Drunken Noodles. I make
good food, but I’m no cook. I hardly ever follow recipes.
My eating was all screwed up when I wrestled in high school and college. I’d often have to lose ten pounds in a day, and often gained ten pounds shortly after
weigh-ins. I used to obsess about food. Most guys thought about girls while I
dreamt of ice cream. I remember binging. I once gobbled down twelve candy bars
at once after one weigh-in. Another time eight ice cream sandwiches and wanted
more. Now I’m sugar intolerant, no surprise. I’m close to being diabetic but I can have an occasional dessert. So basically I love food, can’t eat a lot of the desserts I love, but I’m learning to eat slowly and enjoy it more.
Also, I stopped eating meat when I wrestled. I’m not a big fan of it. I do eat a lot of
fish. It would be hard not eating fish in Spain, it being a peninsula and all.
Do you do any sports? How often? What does exercise mean to you? Any other hobbies?
I used to bike, swim, run, and lift weights. All of that is on hold once I became a
Do you have kids? If so, please tell us a little about them?
I have a 14 month old son. Little Xavier laughs, sleeps well, eats about anything. Great kid. He still tires me out. Maybe it’s because I’m over 40. I don’t know how
people handle a difficult kid. Or two kids. Or more. We’re thinking about having another. I guess we’re gluttons for punishment.
Do you like travelling? Where do you go then?
I travelled the states before getting married. A couple of friends of mine wanted to go to all the baseball stadiums. We’d pick a different one to see each year. Saw
about half of them. Once I got married, we travelled around Spain and Europe.
I’m looking forward to when Xavier is a little older so we can travel some more.
Do you have another job apart from writing? For how many hours? How do you feel about the ‘other’ job?
I just finished my 15th year as an English teacher. A few of those years I also taught creative writing. I can’t imagine doing anything else, except writing. People ask me how I do it, with the kids today and all. I think people suffer from amnesia. The kids today are pretty much the same. They do have more distractions though.
How do your family/friends react to you being a writer? Have their opinions changed since you became a published author? Which remark from your surroundings has stuck most with you?
My family is very Catholic and my book is called Saint Peter Killed God. Whenever
I show it to my mom, her face contorts a little. She says she’ll read it though. A lot of my students ask me about it. I think they’re trying to get me off topic. It’s kind of embarrassing when teachers or even friends ask me about it and I don’t know why, probably because I’m used to keeping that part of my life to myself.
Would you call yourself a social human being? Do you have time for going out and spending time away from the writing desk?
I used to be very social, but I seem to become less and less so as I get older. It’s sad
seeing friendships fade and barely hanging on to my current friends. I need to work on it.
Which character trait do you like best about yourself and why? Which trait would you rather do without?
I’m pretty laidback and can calm my wife down when she’s stressed out. On the flip side, I’m too tolerant at times. When Xavier is opening and closing drawers, I need
to stop him. It’s not fair to my wife.
Can you describe the place where you write + the view?
The more boring the view the better. A blank wall. I don’t want to be distracted.
Is there something you always need to have near you when you work (beverage, cigarette, mascot, music, quote, etc)?
A quiet room is nice. When I get tired, I’ll drink a diet coke. If that doesn’t work,
I’ll play some funky jazz. Has to be an instrumental, but most of the time I don’t listen to anything. Sometimes nothing works and I just fall asleep while writing.
What genre(s) do you write in? How did that develop?
After watching Robo-Cop, I wrote a Sci-Fi novel. Normally I don’t write in a genre
which makes it hard to promote. I began thinking about Saint Peter Killed God when I went to church after Columbine. The priest said that legalized abortions caused it claiming that the sanctity of life has eroded ever since Roe vs. Wade culminating with the high school shootings at Columbine. Absurd. But he got an ovation. The gears slowly began churning in my head.
When was your first book released and how did that make you feel?
Nervous. Would it sell a single copy? Where will I promote it? Then I saw an error.
“Fir” instead of “For”! How the hell did that happen?
Can you tell us some background information on the book? (How did you get the idea, how long did it take you to write and edit it, is it part of a sequel, how does the published book make you feel now?)
Sure. Father Peter wakes up in a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. He
suffers from a slight amnesia and is trying to figure out why he did it. I could have never written the book if I didn’t work overnight in a psych hospital for four years. I went part-time to write it. Afterwards, no one was interested in it so I hired a writing coach. He wrote me a 20 page email outlining everything that was wrong with my book. He suggested reading 25 plus books and made me do all sorts of writing exercises. A few years later, I went part-time and revised it. I think I’ve been through about ten drafts. It took more than ten years, although I wasn’t working on it most of that time. I’m relieved that it’s finally available because I never thought it’d see the light of day.
What are your writing habits? (every day, number of words, etc.?)
I can’t work full time and write. I need the entire day off. I’m very ADD when I write.
I’ll write for an hour or two, and then clean. Write a little and then eat lunch. Write some more and take a nap. Write a little more and go to the gym. Write some more and then watch TV. I don’t write every day. Maybe I’m getting rusty, but I find it impossible to start another novel with an infant, a full time job, etc. I hope I can in the future, but I don’t know when.
Who’s been your biggest inspiration and why? Since when?
My mom. When I told her I was going to write a book, she laughed saying that spelling was my worst subject when I was in elementary school. When she read my first book I asked her what she thought. “Well, I read it.” She then went on to say
there were other careers I might consider besides writing. Don’t get me wrong,
what my mom did is great. I’m motivated by the “you-never-can-do-it” response.
If my mom supported me, I’d probably have given up the dream a long time ago.
What do Night Publishing and Slush Pile Reader mean to you?
Tim is great. He offered to publish Saint Peter Killed God if Slush Pile Reader
wouldn’t. I read so many great books on authonomy and SPR that should have been
published. I’ve been able to read six of them so far on Night. I also have six more on my Kindle.
Slush Pile Reader means a great deal more to me since they are publishing my book. I’m grateful to Johanna Denize for editing it and Pascal Denize for promoting it.
Slush Pile Reader is giving away $1,800 worth of Amazon gift cards to promote
Saint Peter Killed God. Click this link to find out more:
Where do you see yourself in 5-years’ time?
I see one of two scenarios. First, I’m starting my 21 year as a teacher. Second, I’m
taking a break from teaching to write. Of course Xavier will be six and who knows, he might have one younger brother or sister.
Final fun question. If you had to choose: are you a Houdini or an Edison? This is for the official NP tally.
That’s a close call. I’ll give a slight nod to Edison.
THANK YOU SO MUCH Karl Joseph!!
Want to read KJ’s work or get in touch with him?