Today’s guest, Charlie Jack Joseph Kruger, writes psychological horror. Don’t be afraid to read a bit about him and his newest novel In Stark Weather. I promise that no monsters will leap off the page and follow you around.
Welcome, Charlie. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a storyteller. It has always been the one calling that has screamed out for me the loudest, I feel. So it is only logical, I feel, that I would find myself on the scary side of a typewriter, clicking away and vomiting out all of my emotions and ideas. I feel weird when I am asked for a ‘bio’ or a little ‘rundown on who I am’ because I feel like the stories I write paint a truer image of who I am than anything I can actually say about myself…
Please tell us about your current release.
Well, In Stark Weather is my most recent novel. It is a tri-narrative, following three characters, a failed musician, a terrified author, and an abuse victim who has fallen into extremely unhealthy coping mechanisms. These three lost souls all rip out into America from different starting points, trying to find sanity, safety, and sanctity. Along the way, their own monsters and fears victimize them, each other, and others. I really felt like I was able to purge not only a lot of my own thoughts, but also a lot of my own monsters and fears through these three unwilling heroes. I would say that it this novel is a ‘psychological literary horror’. It has more to do with Chuck Palanhiuk than Stephen King, you know? haha.
What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by some of the people I have known, some of the people I have been afraid that I am, and some of the people I know I have almost become. I feel like writing, although you twist and bend life to make it become the story you want, is something that must be approached with honesty and reverence. I believe more in this novel than I do in myself as an author, if that makes sense. And as such, I feel that I should only write when something, the spirit of the story maybe, moves me to do so. So with this novel, I just felt these characters in my head, they built themselves up Franken-stitched together out of ideas and moments from my life. People I have worked with, or heard speaking… and once the characters were real to me, once I could see them and hear them in my head, I had to give them a story to live within. I knew the emotional resolve I wanted the story to have, but I didn’t know how the plot would work to get me there, or what the physicality of that emotional finale would be, so I just started writing.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Well, I'm working on a draft of my next novel, it is so far existing under the title ‘A Junkyard God With Broken Legs’, and it has to do with love, blindness, and deification. One of the main characters is in love with an idea, not a person, and so he smears that idea onto people so that he can love them, but… I don’t want to give too much away yet.
I'm also working on a short story, and getting a few stories put into literary ‘zines and collections.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I go back and forth on this. In a way I guess it could be when I was in 6th grade and I wrote a whole notebook full of a story… but no one else ever read that. And maybe it was when my first poems were sold for publication. Maybe when I saw my name on my first novel in person. Maybe when I had my first official book signing. I don’t really know. I feel like I am almost constantly feeling more and more like an author. I mean, with five other books in print, when my latest In Stark Weather came out… I felt more like an author than ever before. Or when my publisher created a commercial for my new novel… that was an odd moment of adulthood. I guess I don’t have a good answer. But I have always felt like I was supposed to be a writer, and with every passing day, I feel like I am closer and closer to that goal.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Well, I would say I am a full-time creator. I paint, I write, I play music, I review movies/books/music for the underground website www.horror-punks.com and I do a little work on the side as a graphic designer for a few friends’ bands. I also co-coordinate a food outreach program in Olympia, Washington with a few other awesome folks, to make sure that three days a week there is free, healthy food available to those in need of it, and I work part time as a trauma and abuse counselor. I'm also working with a few other outreach groups on some other projects. So… I do have a full schedule, but I love everything I do. I do these things because I believe in them and they fulfill me. They all drain me in different ways, but with the amount of things in front of me, I try to make sure I never feel too burned out on one thing, when I am feeling a little dry, I try to change over to a different field so that I don’t end up resenting the work. And I find time to do the things I love, because they each deserve time. So I just have to make it work.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Hmm… I guess I use a lot of truncated/fragmented sentences. I like to write in a conversational tone for the most part, and as a result, when it comes to personal or challenging moments in a story, I sometimes end up shattering up my paragraphs like glass, leaving little slivers of sentences here and there.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An artist. I think for a short while there I wanted to be Swamp Thing, but for the most part I have always wanted to be an author, and a creator. I just want to be able to get all of the things and ideas out of my head…. So that there is space for more to grow.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Yes, thank you so much for sitting and doing this interview with me! I hope you will mosey on over to my website and check out some of the work I have posted there. My books are available through local retailers, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com, and my own website. If you get them from my website they each come autographed and with an inscription. So… I recommend that! But thank you for interviewing me, and for all of you reading, thank you for taking the time and reading this!
Happy to have you here today, Charlie. Enjoy the writing!