WELCOME JUSTIN KRAMON
Justin Kramon is the author of the novels Finny (Random House, 2010) and The Preservationist (Pegasus, 2013). A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he has received honors from the Michener-Copernicus Society of America, Best American Short Stories, the Hawthornden International Writers’ Fellowship, and the Bogliasco Foundation. He lives in Philadelphia.
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Q&A with Justin Kramon
Writing and Reading:
-Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
More from personal experience. Sometimes friends or family will ask where I get an idea for a character, then fix a hard stare on me, and my sense is that what they’re asking is whether they appear in the book, and if so, how angry they should be. But I don’t usually write autobiographically, or base a character completely on a person in my life. It’s more that I try to use my experiences of people and places in my life to suggest people and places in my work. I tend to be really interested in why people do things, especially unlikely or extreme things, and what’s in their minds when they do them, which is a particularly fascinating question when violence is involved.
-Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
I like to start with some characters and a difficult problem they’re facing. So in this novel I have a young woman with a dark past and an older man who falls for her and seems to understand her, though he has some serious eccentricities and mysterious gaps in his own past. Someone is threatening them, and they don’t know why. So then I’m interested to see how it develops. How are they going to try to figure out where the threat comes from? How is their relationship going to develop in these stormy conditions? How will they avoid or not avoid danger? Will they discover why they’re being targeted? Then the characters and the problem help dictate the plot. I try to get to know these people, to feel almost like I’m becoming them, so that I’d know how they’d react and what they’d do.
-Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
Aside from the chanting and the dolls’ heads I keep in my closet, I wouldn’t say I have any idiosyncrasies. Just kidding. I keep the dolls’ heads in my desk.
Seriously, though, the actual work of writing is pretty basic, which is probably why there aren’t many Hollywood movies about writers in the heat of the creative act, since it’s basically a person alone in a room typing. I get up every day and try to go to work on new material. I like cereal first. I like tea and coffee. I found Stephen King’s book On Writing very helpful in suggesting some different methods for working through multiple drafts of a book.
-Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
I spend most days writing. I also teach writing at some colleges and universities, and I do some freelance editing for writers submitting manuscripts.
-Who are some of your favorite authors?
That changes with every book I’m working on. A lot of the stories and both of the novels I’ve written have grown out of a love or even obsession with a particular author or genre. So for The Preservationist, I was reading a lot of psychological thrillers, but particularly ones that got deep into the heads of the criminals, as well as the victims. So I read Stephen King, Ruth Rendell, Patricia Highsmith, Henning Mankell, Edna O’Brien, Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter novels, and a number of other writers who are interested in the psychology of crime, but also in all the usual stuff I like in novels about people and relationships and time passing.
-What are you reading now?
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño.
-Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m working, but I can’t say too much about the new project, except that it has suspense.
-Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
I would play the role of Julia. I look very good in long hair, and my voice can get surprisingly high. If that doesn’t work out, though, maybe I could cast Therese Barbato, who played Julia in the book trailer. (Watch the trailer below)
-Would you rather read or watch TV/movie?
Generally reading, but it really depends on what I’d be reading and what I’d be watching. I’d be pretty happy to watch The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Dave Chappelle Show, or the British version of The Office almost anytime.
Very difficult question. Eating is a big hobby of mine, and I think that my wife and I travel mostly to be able to taste dishes we’ve heard about that we can’t get where we live. In Shanghai, we were obsessed with soup dumplings, which are these delicious little noodle pouches that have both meat and broth inside, and you eat them with black vinegar and ginger. Right now, sitting in my basement in Philadelphia, I would say that would be the food I’d most like to eat.
Vietnamese iced coffee. But the downside is that they have so much caffeine that if I drink more than one, I tend to resemble Robin Williams after a cocaine binge.
Thank you for stopping by CMash Reads and spending time with us.
ABOUT THE BOOK
To Sam Blount, meeting Julia is the best thing that has ever happened to him. Working at the local college and unsuccessful in his previous relationships, he’d been feeling troubled about his approaching fortieth birthday, “a great beast of a birthday,” as he sees it, but being with Julia makes him feel young and hopeful. Julia Stilwell, a freshman trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy that has stripped her of her greatest talent, is flattered by Sam’s attention. But their relationship is tested by a shy young man with a secret, Marcus Broley, who is also infatuated with Julia.
Told in alternating points of view, The Preservationist is the riveting tale of Julia and Sam’s relationship, which begins to unravel as the threat of violence approaches—and Julia becomes less and less sure whom to trust.
READ AN EXCERPT
Genre: Thriller / Psychological Thriller / Women’s Fiction
Published by: Pegasus/Norton
Publication Date: 10/15/13
Number of Pages: 288
Watch the trailer
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