William Kent Krueger is a multi award-winning American author and crime writer, best known for his Cork O'Connor series of books, which is mainly set in Minnesota. USA. In 2005 and 2006, he won back to back Anthony Awards for best novel - a feat only matched by one other writer since the award's inception.
William Kent Krueger has stated that he dates his desire to be a writer back to the third grade, when a story he wrote called The Walking Dictionary was so well received by teachers and parents that he was inspired by their praise. Throughout an early life that saw him logging timber, digging ditches, working in construction, and being published as a freelance journalist, he never stopped writing.
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.
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. A book which went on to win the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the Barry Award for Best First Novel, the Minnesota Book Award, and the Loft-McKnight Fiction Award.
William Kent Krueger lives with his wife and family in St Paul, Minnesota.
Krueger names his favourite book as To Kill A Mockingbird and cites American prose as the main influence on his writing. He grew up reading Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and James T. Farrell. Most influential among these was Ernest Hemingway. In an interview for Shots magazine, Krueger describes 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 genre writer, Krueger credits Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke as his strongest influences.
Krueger shares Hemingway's preference for writing at first light. 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 broiler in his 30s when he had to make time for writing early in the morning before going to work at the University of Minnesota. But the habit continues today, and he now has his own booth there.
In return for his loyalty, the broiler has hosted book launches for Krueger, and at one, staff wore T-shirts emblazoned with "A nice place to visit. A great place to die."
Importance of Location in the Cork O'Connor Seriesmoreless
Krueger's stories always include an element of life in and around native American reservations. The main character, Cork O'Connor is part Irish, part Ojibwe. When Krueger decided to set the series in northern Minnesota, he realised that a large percentage of the population of the county he had selected as a model for the fictional Tamarack County of his books was of mixed heritage. In college, Krueger had wanted to be a cultural anthropologist and so the idea of researching the Ojibwe culture and weaving the information into the stories held great appeal for him.
He began by reading the early ethnographers, William Whipple Warren and Francis Densmore, then read works by Gerald Vizenor and Basil Johnson, and the stories of Louise Erdrich and Jim Northrup. Krueger then began to meet and get to know the Ojibwe people and remains fascinated by their culture.
The descriptions of locations in Krueger's novels often reflect character's feelings. 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."