Ordinary Grace (Krueger)

Author Bio
Birth—November 16, 1950
Where—Torrington, Wyoming, USA
Education—Stanford University (no degree)
Awards—Anthony Award's Best Novel (twice); Anthony
   Award's Best First Novel; Barry Award for Best First
   Novel; Loft-McKnight Award
Currently—lives in St. Paul, Minnesota

William Kent Krueger is an American author and crime writer, best known for the 13 novels of his Cork O'Connor series of books, ending with Tamarack County in 2013. The series is set mainly in Minnesota, USA. In 2005 and 2006, he won back-to-back Anthony Awards for best novel. Only one other author has done this since the award's inception in 1986.

Krueger has said that he wanted to be a writer from the third grade, when his story "The Walking Dictionary" was praised by his teacher and parents.

He attended Stanford University but his academic path was cut short when he came into conflict with the university's administration during student protests of spring 1970. Throughout his early life, he supported himself by logging timber, digging ditches, working in construction, and being published as a freelance journalist. He never stopped writing.

He wrote short stories and sketches for many years, but it was not until the age of 40 that he finished the manuscript of his first novel, Iron Lake. It won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award.

In 2013 he published his first stand-alone novel Ordinary Grace, referred to by Publishers Weekly as "elegiac, evocative....a resonant tale of fury, guilt, and redemption."

He lives with family in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Writing influences
Krueger has said his favorite book is To Kill A Mockingbird. He grew up reading Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James T. Farrell. Most influential among these was Hemingway. In an interview for Shots magazine, Krueger described his admiration for Hemingway's prose:

His prose is clean, his word choice perfect, his cadence precise and powerful. He wastes nothing. In Hemingway, what’s not said is often the whole point of a story. I like that idea, leaving the heart off the page so that the words, the prose itself, is the first thing to pierce you. Then the meaning comes.

As a mystery genre writer, Krueger credits Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke as his strongest influences.

Writing process
Krueger prefers to write early in the morning. Rising at 5.30 am, he goes to the nearby St Clair Broiler, where he drinks coffee and writes long-hand in wirebound notebooks.

He began going to the diner in his 30s when he had to make time for writing early in the morning before going to work at the University of Minnesota. He continues the habit, and today has his "own" booth there. In return for his loyalty, the restaurant has hosted book launches for Krueger. At one, the staff wore T-shirts emblazoned with "A nice place to visit. A great place to die."

Cork O'Connor series
When Krueger decided to set the series in northern Minnesota, he realized that a large percentage of the population was of mixed ancestry. In college, Krueger had wanted to be a cultural anthropologist; he became intrigued by researching the Ojibwe culture and weaving the information into his books. Krueger's books are set in and around Native American reservations. The main character, Cork O'Connor is part Ojibwe, part Irish.

History was a study in futility. Because people never learned. Century after century, they committed the same atrocities against one another or against the earth, and the only thing that changed was the magnitude of the slaughter... Conscience was a devil that plagued the individual. Collectively, a people squashed it as easily as stepping on a daisy.

Krueger has read the first Ojibwe historian, William Whipple Warren, as well as Francis Densmore, Gerald Vizenor and Basil Johnston. He has also read novels by Louise Erdrich and Jim Northrup. Krueger began to meet and get to know the Ojibwe people and remains fascinated by their culture.

His descriptions are meant to express his characters' feelings about the settings. Krueger believes that the sense of place is made resonant by the actions and emotions of the characters within it. He describes it as "a dynamic bond that has the potential to heighten the drama of every scene." (From Wikipedia.)

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