Minnesota author shares love of books with Dodge Center readers
The SELCO Author Tour 2019 came to Dodge Center last week in the form of Minnesota author William Kent Krueger.
Krueger, a St. Paul resident and writer of Minnesota-based mysteries, talked to a standing room only crowd in the meeting room of the Dodge Center Public Library. He talked about reading and books in general as well his own works which are set primarily in northern Minnesota.
“The reason we’re here,” he told the audience, “is to share our love of the written word. I want to talk about our love of books.”
In a talk peppered with quotes from other authors, some well-known, some not-so-well-known and some anonymous, he said his own love of books came as a child. The book that started it all, he said, was a Little Golden Book called “The Happy Family.”
It was a favorite of his as well as his brother and sister even though “in truth not much happens.” In fact, he explained, it really got no more exciting than ants trying to get in the cake at a backyard birthday party.
But it wasn’t really the book that captured his imagination, he said, but rather the way his father read it. He started out reading the printed page, Krueger said, but soon took off on his own, making the little ants great big ants seeking more than just the cake and a quiet day at the beach turning into a tidal wave.
“My point,” he said, “is simply what I learned from my father is a story, once begun, can go anywhere, limited only by our imagination.”
That led to his first story, written in third grade, about a dictionary that did not think it was used enough, grew legs, and set out to talk to people. Maybe coincidently, his father was an English teacher.
Quoting the French philosopher and author Albert Camus, he said, “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
With stories, he said, the deep hunger for meaning can often be satisfied.
“Anyone who says they have but one life to live must not know how to read a book,” he said quoting an anonymous author.
As for his own books, he has written 19 of them so far. In most of them Cork O’Connor is the protagonist. He is the former sheriff of Tamarack County and a man of mixed heritage, part Irish and part Ojibwe.
Many of his books, he said, come out of this white-Native American culture and he deals with topics such as casinos, a gang culture on reservations and sexual trafficking of Native American women and children in big cities.
Krueger has so far written 17 books in the Cork O’Connor series and two stand-alone novels.
In answer to attendees who wanted to know there would be more Cork O’Connor mysteries, Krueger said he has signed a contract for two more.
A typical book contract, he said, generally obligates the author to produce one book a year. While working on one book, he is thinking about the seed for the next one, he said.
His final advice to those in attendance? “Go forth and read the gamut, go forth and feed your soul.”