In this podcast, Daniel Kraus talks about Whalefall, touring, book publicity, and much more.
About Daniel Kraus
Daniel Kraus is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and graphic novels. He coauthored The Living Dead with legendary filmmaker George A. Romero. With Guillermo del Toro, he coauthored The Shape of Water, based on the same idea the two created for the Oscar-winning film. Also with del Toro, Kraus coauthored Trollhunters, which was adapted into the Emmy-winning Netflix series. He has won two Odyssey Awards (for Rotters and Scowler), and The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 Books of the Year. His books have been Library Guild selections, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults picks, Bram Stoker finalists, and more. His work has been translated into over twenty languages.
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Not Forever, But For Now by Chuck Palahniuk
Meet Otto and Cecil. Two brothers growing up privileged in the Welsh countryside. They enjoy watching nature shows, playing with their pet pony, impersonating their Grandfather…and killing the help. Murder is the family business after all. Downton Abbey, this is not.
What this IS: the groundbreaking new novel Not Forever, But For Now by Chuck Palahniuk. You may know Chuck as the author of Fight Club. Now you’ll know him as the author of Not Forever, But For Now, wherever books are sold.
The Ungodly Duology by S.H. Cooper
The Ungodly Duology features two horror novellas from author S.H. Cooper
Michael David Wilson 0:07
Welcome to This Is Horror Podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson. And every episode I chat with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today we are counting with Daniel Krauss about various things, including his brand new book, whale full. And whale full is pitched as a scientifically accurate thriller about a scuba diver who has been swallowed by an 80 foot 60 ton sperm whale, and there's only one hour to escape before his oxygen runs out. And honestly, that is a very succinct way of putting it. It is a real time novel in the way it is told. And it's a great one. So I hope that you have a lot of fun with it if you haven't already. But before we jump into the conversation proper, let's have a quick word from advertisers.
S.H. Cooper 1:39
20 years ago faith York watched her father get dragged into the earth by a spider armed woman. Now after so many years of denial and running, it's time for faith to go home and face the truth. A spiraling rabbit hole of reopen wounds shadowy cults and elder chores await in the ungodly do ology two novellas by sh Cooper. Available now in ebook and paperback from cemetery gates media.
Bob Pastorella 2:07
Me meet Otto and Cecil two brothers go in a privileged and Welsh countryside. They enjoy watching nature shows playing with their pet pony, impersonating the grandfather and killing the help murderous the family business after all, Downton Abbey This is not what this is the groundbreaking new novel not forever but for now by Chuck Palahniuk. You may know Chuck his daughter Fight Club. Now you'll know him as the author of not forever but for now, wherever books are sold.
Michael David Wilson 2:40
Okay with that said, here it is it is Daniel Krauss on This Is Horror. Daniel, welcome back to This Is Horror.
Daniel Kraus 2:54
Hey, thank you for inviting me back.
Michael David Wilson 2:57
Yeah, it has been over three years since we last spoke. So I want to know what have been the biggest changes for you both personally and professionally, in that time.
Daniel Kraus 3:14
Three years. Professionally, let's start there. Let me look at my bookshelves here. It looks like since the that was probably right before I put up the living dead. Maybe the Romero book that yeah, that's the best my recollection. So that would mean since then I've published the terminal. All three Teddy's books the the ghost, that's the first couple of graveyard girls books, wrath, Year Zero, Trojan, and well from so a bunch of books. And as usual, they're sort of all over the place. As far as some of them are for adults. Some of them are for kids. I think this is the first stretch that I haven't had a young adult book in a while. I haven't had one since Ben heavens, which would have been which would have come out a few months before we talked last time. Most of the stuff I'm doing now has ended up in adult so that's that's just for whatever reason, that's kind of what what I'm writing now. Of those, you know, as usual, when you when you're that prolific. One of the nice things about being prolific is that you can take big swings all over the place. And they don't have to all connect, you know, if you put a book out every three years and it doesn't connect with a bunch of readers then that thing that's probably hard to take, but if you're putting out three books a year or whatever I'm doing. Typically you're I'm so far removed generally from what's going on with book releases that the reaction tends to not be something I'm fully engaged with, whether it's good or bad. Well, fall was the last book published and that one has definitely be been the biggest book of my career. And so I have been involved with that. Definitely, more on the promotion side than I certainly ever have before. You know, like, I've started with the living dad, I probably started to edge into promoting my books a little more, whereas the my first like, nine books, maybe I barely did any outreach at all, there was just a man of mystery. Now, I'm less mysterious, certainly after, well fall, which is, you know, the first book where I've done like, a full tour all that stuff. So professionally, things are good. I mean, I think actually, things are sort of the best they've been, you know, we'll pose it as a, I think an unqualified hit sort of. So I'm kind of in a, it's, it's interesting to have your biggest book be your 21st book, you know, generally, queers don't work like that. Or if you if you've stuck around for 21 books, you probably had a really big hit early, you know, that something to sort of keep you going. And I've had, I've had certainly, you know, books that I've done, well, here and there. But this one has, as expected, it might, it's had a little broader appeal than a lot of stuff. So professionally, things doing great. Personally, I don't know that there's actually been a lot of changes, I think I'm still sitting in the same chair in the same room. I'm generally the same health. You know, that's how I like it. I like things to just be steady. And regular. You know, I, as we spoke about last time, I, I write like, I'm just working in a factory, you know, I wake up clock in and work all day. And I put in six days a week, six, you know, long, hard days. And that's still what I'm doing not nothing about that has changed. The biggest change was that for the first time, in since I started writing, certainly professionally. You know, I had six weeks there where I didn't write or I was on the road and doing various promotional things, which was highly unusual. And throughout my routine, certainly, for a while.
Michael David Wilson 7:58
Yeah, how did it feel? Not writing? Did it make you anxious? Oh, did you feel I guess? Was it a little disconcerting, lightweight, this is meant to be happening, this has been happening for the vast majority of my life. And as you said, not not even just writing everyday but writing long hours every day having an output that I think a lot of people would define rightly as prolific.
Daniel Kraus 8:31
Yeah, it didn't make me anxious. It it was a generally kind of physiologically upsetting, I think, I have trouble taking just Sundays off. So suddenly, when I wasn't writing for six weeks. It was hard. It was really hard. For me and I, I think by the by week, let's say for of that, I really, there was a moment where I had to really step back, I found myself for the very first time, like in the weeds of like, how a book was being received it was having was has never been something I've been plugged into. I've never been able to tell you how much of a book had sold or anything like that, but for various reasons, I was kind of plugged into all that. And I was too far into it. And there was a moment where I was on the phone with with with someone in like, upset about this element of the book rollout or that or some little thing and I just realized, wait a minute, what am I after I hung up? I said What am I so upset about? You know, at this book release has been a dream and yet here I am, like completely unhappy. And I think I realized at that point that it was I really had gone too far into the evil direction I needed to go back way step way, way back into Where I've always been, which is just the creative part of it. So I've gotten back to that much happier, everything's kind of fine now. But it was it was, I was surprised by how much it affected my mental state. And I wasn't really aware of it until kind of after, you know, yelling at someone, or having a contentious conversation, and then just kind of realizing this doesn't feel like me at all.
Michael David Wilson 10:28
Yeah, I totally get that. Because I mean, I seem to pretty much every day, I'll front load my day with writing, and then I'll end it with exercise. And if I don't do one of those things, then it becomes an issue, but actually, relatively recently, you know, I found that I need to ease off on the exercise part, because obviously, your body needs to recover. And I think in a way that does a similar thing with writing in even though it can be uncomfortable programming that Sunday off, you do need a little bit of recovery time, sometimes just kind of made sure I suppose that you're not burning out or though this is probably more a case of do as I say, and not as I do, because I frequently battle with pushing myself towards the edge.
Daniel Kraus 11:29
Yeah, I think that's right. I, we, a lot of us tend to do that. But I think you're, even though I still resist my Sundays off, and I've been taking Sundays off now for you know, I would say at least, maybe five years. And I have gotten used to the volume for the first year. So I would just pace the house like a, like a caged Tiger. And it has gotten better. And I bet it is good for me like, of course it has to be. And maybe at some point I'll even takes Saturday's off from Sunday, it's hard for me to imagine what the hell I'm going to do for two days off. I don't really have hobbies, you know, like, my hobby is sort of my, my job. So I don't know what's going to happen there. But I don't I don't feel like I'm burnt burning out at all, you know, and maybe maybe there's one day off is the secret pressure valve release. But I feel fine. You know, I I you know, as usual working on a bunch of projects, and I just, I feel as good as ever. I feel like I'm ready to write the next 10 books.
Michael David Wilson 12:50
Yeah, well, that's good. And I think you'll publish this then agent will be relieved to hear that too. And, I mean, mean, speaking of the publicist, and publicity, you said before that, for the first 10 or so books, you didn't really get involved at all in the promotion. You were just doing the writing, but then you started promoting more. And I wonder, was there a pivotal moment? Was there a reason that you decided actually I am going to tour or I am going to promote? And I am going to get involved in the marketing?
Daniel Kraus 13:30
Yeah, there was. I mean, for the first half of my career, I was working as we've many people do a full time job. So I had a demanding day job that took up all my days and some of my nights and I was working all some nights, definitely all weekend days and nights. Certainly all holidays and days off and stuff like that. So I decided kind of early on. When I first got into publishing with my first book was out with Random House. And so I didn't know a whole lot of writers but I knew one. And he had been promoting a book of his for very hard for like a two or three years at that point, I think. And so I was sort of observing him and sort of my analysis wasn't wasn't really helping all that much. So I just kind of made a decision at that point. I just wasn't going to do that. And my, my default anyway, is to be sort of a hermit who sort of stays at home and just kind of works hard, quietly in his room. So it was easy for me to make that call. But I did make us conscious decision that I'm I don't have time. There's so many books I want to write I don't I need to make a decision behind them use my very precious, free time. And I'm going to use about writing and I'm just going Don't hope that having a next book will be as good as promotion is anything I could gin up by myself. What changed was when I did the living dead with Ramiro, I felt an obligation to the Romero state. So Georgia was gone, you know, when the book came out. So I felt like I owed his wife and his family and his estate and the fans, frankly, to really do what I could for them for him, you know. So that was when I really took down all the walls, and welcomed everyone, yourself included, to sort of finally ask questions, and there was a significant tour plan for that, that was 2020, of course, so that ended up getting scrapped. But that was that was, like, you know, around the time that I went to my very first stokercon, that would have been like, the year might have been 2019 that I did that, but I did it in anticipation sort of, of the, the Romero book coming out. So it was really just because of that, and then I sort of, you know, to my surprise, kind of had a decent time. Met good people, you know, I essentially had been not really antisocial and just a real classic introvert. And I ended up meeting, you know, a bunch of other authors in the field who I really hadn't, and really liked them and, and thought I would just, I would keep the door open, maybe not like, as wide as I did during the living dead. And then again, during well fall, but, but certainly keep it cracked open. And it's been good. You know, I think I've achieved sort of a decent balance, I think, because I have so much stuff coming out, I'm still generally promoting most of it way less than most authors. Like, you know, I don't remember how many things then come on, in the past year, but I don't know, it's probably three or four. So it's like, I, I I'm not saying I'm I'm picking winners and losers, really, but I am having to sort of decide where to what what projects, I'm going to just trust the publishers to sort of handle and then which projects I'm going to put sort of any extra non writing time into, which is does not really steal a lot of them. So dedicating almost all my time just to working. So you know, it's in this case, well, fall really got all of it, you know, like I I've never just put the brakes to writing before and just said Alright, there's there's too much going on, I'm just going to focus on the publicity or touring or interviews or whatever, for a full month or so like that. That was highly unusual.
Michael David Wilson 18:01
Yeah, and as an introvert, I mean, even doing one event and then socializing before socializing after that can take a bit out of you. So to have then then, like, I believe you said, you know, for over 20 days or something like that, a lot of dates being back to back. I imagine that was very intense to have embarked on such a kind of lung book tour for way or full. So I mean, did you put anything in place to safeguard your own health there and to make sure you had the energy so that you could bring your A game for each event?
Daniel Kraus 18:48
Well, certainly concerned about it, because I'm not, I'm not a great traveler. So on top of being, you know, a real introvert, I tend to not really feel physically well, when I'm flying. Particularly, I'm flying a lot. So I was I was worried about it for a long time. I knew the tour was coming, you know, six or eight months out. So that was plenty of time to worry about it. So and then to make matters worse, I had an appearance about a week before the tour started and I got food poisoning. So a week before I left, I got really sick. And that kind of busted my confidence, you know, because one of the things I was worried about was, I'm definitely going to get sick on this tour. Right? That's, that was my thought, you know, and I am one of those weird people who have never gotten COVID So I'm like alright, so I'm definitely gonna get COVID on this tour. So I was I was worried about it on all sorts of counts. And I just built in as many safeguards as I could just trying to pack really intelligently. To make sure I had all the the medicine I might need or any kind of other aids I might need a I'm, and I really made an effort to take care of myself in a way that I haven't in the past. I tried to stretch and exercise a little bit every day. Some days, it was impossible, but I think almost every single day, I was able to at least, even if it even if I didn't get to the hotel room, until I was just about to go to bed, even then I would take 10 minutes and kind of stretch. And I, I try, I tried to eat food that had protein, you know, just like simple things and try to, I brought tea along with me to help my voice because I've kind of a weak voice. And tried to as much as I could say no to going out after events, you know, like, that's, there's, there's always a, an appeal to like, you know, people invite you out for drinks, do you kind of want to go? It was I think it was easier to say? No, because I, I could just say, look, I've got, I've got, you know, 15 more of these got to do or whatever. And they were they totally got it. No, no, this isn't high school. No, it's like, pressuring me or I had that. But I, you know, I kept it pretty church and state, you know, and I would do the event and I would just go home, just go into the hotel room and relax as much as possible. And I had some, some low moments for sure. You know, there were some I had a few flights that were just real killers, you know, like we you get two or three hours asleep and have to get up and get on another flight. But, you know, it's I always feel a little bit bad complaining about it, because it was, you know, something that was great, right? You know, like, it's not often these days, you get a fully publisher funded book tour. Like, that's a rare thing these days. And as difficult as it was, for me, I know, it was a real privilege to have that kind of support and belief from the publisher, so I I was always really thankful even as I was struggling sometimes. That's kind of why I did it. What kind of powered me through it was like, you know, this is a rare thing. I need to try to make this work. I need to try to enjoy it in parks. And I did sometimes, I think, I think overall, if he asked me, Did I enjoy the tour? I'd have to think about it. Like if I had to like give it a star rating. I'm not sure. It probably be somewhere in the middle. But that's just that's always going to be the case with me. Overall, it went really, really well. People showed up. I didn't get sick, like a lot of little miracles there.
Michael David Wilson 22:48
Yeah. And I mean, of course, like it is intense doing it. And particularly as Bob said, I mean, you had like a whole presentation as well, which we're definitely going to get to a little bit later. So I mean, in terms of a book event, there's these aren't standard book events, it's not really you go there you do your reading, do you get out there's, as one would expect being familiar with you, and particularly having read whale soul. It's like, oh, we're gonna dive deep. We're gonna get pretty scientific. So I'm excited to talk about that. But before we jump exactly into that, I mean, you said that even before release, you had a feeling that this was going to be like, a hit as far as we can ever have a feeling about these things, but you had a good feeling about way or fall. I think. I mean, me and Josh Malerman. When we were talking the other day, we were saying that in a way or photo has absolutely exploded in terms of its impact. It seems to be like having a moment it seems to have really tapped into the kind of zeitgeist of everyone not just in the horrific shooting community but beyond. And so I'm wondering, oh, I'm by the way, this shows why it doesn't matter how much success you have. You should always you know, put everything into the project you're working on and not feel like your moment or your heat has gone because he you are someone who co wrote a book with George A Romero. And now after having your biggest book thus far, but I wonder what were the factors or what did you attribute to feeling like whale fall is going to be the one it's going to be a book that's really going to wrestle Like where people?
Daniel Kraus 25:01
Yeah, I mean, you're right. Like, you never can really know what's gonna hit with people. But I did have an inkling like, right away, like when I had the, the idea, like almost instantly after having that idea, like I was so taken with it, like and I'm talking about like in the minutes after having the idea, like, instantly I thought this is there's something really primal here like there's, like we all in our DNA kind of like know, the story of being swallowed by a whale like obviously it's biblical, but it's like, beyond that, like, it's the story, the story of being swallowed by something that predates biblical it's like, it's an, an early story that is really wrapped into our like, cerebral cortex is I think, like, it's, it's our, it's the caveman brain, you know, like, knows when we used to be swallowed by things like there's, there's something that there was something about it that felt so instinctively powerful, that I thought, well, this, this this done the right way, maybe this could really touch a lot of people. And the premise itself, regardless of the books quality, would make people look and look twice, and it would somehow resound in them. And it was the next morning, because I had the idea at night, when I did my search to see if anyone else had ever written a book like this, which I assumed they had. But they hadn't. And that's when I got really excited. I was like, somehow no one has ever taken this idea. Seriously, they're always taking it metaphorically. And that's when I really, really got excited and started pursuing you, I'd heard sort of dropped everything I was doing and just immediately started working, started contacting whale scientists and stuff and just started the process of research that would have to take place before I could write anything. Now in the in the writing of it, I it could have gotten muddy and I could have been like, alright, this didn't quite, you know, still cool, but didn't quite be what I thought it might but it did. It's sort of like, you know, only a few times in a career maybe never does everything sort of slow to together. Like the characters and the theme and the plot and everything just sort of was working. And I could just feel it day by day, it was just everything was kind of coming together with the with the the sort of voice of it, the shape of the chapters, the structure, everything was just feeding in to the same direction and going really well. So then after I finished it, I did feel again, sort of the the sense that I think this might hit people, you know, and I paired this kind of very simple, powerful premise, which I paired it with what I thought was the most simple, powerful relationship, which is sort of parent child. So I thought I had I might have something that would trigger in a good way. A lot of readers and and again, like you said not just horror readers, I thought this was something that would be that sort of stretched beyond genre. I think that's been proven out by the fact that no one knows where to shelf it. Like there's, there's, I'd say maybe half the places are shelving in in horror. But the other half aren't like they're putting it in sci fi or thriller or general fiction. No one really knows what to do with it. I think often that hurts a book. You know, like I think I think I've written things where it's hurt. I always hear from librarians and then also booksellers, and even people at publishers that not knowing where to shelve something can really hurt a book. But I think this is one of those rare cases where it's helped, like everyone's been able to find something on it, they can kind of nibble off of.
Michael David Wilson 29:10
Yeah, yeah. And I totally agree about it being difficult to classify because every genre you just mentioned, I mean, it does fit into each of them. It is science fiction, because it's 100% scientifically accurate story. So therefore, by the definition, it is sci fi is probably not what you did initially. Imagine if someone says you're gonna get a sci fi story, but from a technical definition, that's what it is. It is a curse horror is thriller and you think putting things in general fiction, you can almost do that with anything that is literary and anything that kind of straddles genres. So I totally see why it's been shelved there, too. But I mean, putting you on the spot if you had to choose where to put it, and it's like, right, then your Krause is going to now say, well, we all have to shelve it going forward. Where would you choose? And I'm wondering, as I asked this, you know, why would you choose wherever you're accusing? Is it because you think that is the genre that best reflects it? Or is it because you're making a commercial decision here and you think it will sell better?
Daniel Kraus 30:36
My sort of like, dodging the question answer would be, I would want every star to show that where they think the most people would be interested in it. So you have a heavy sci fi readership. Please shove it in sci fi. I don't know. I mean, I think at its most base level, it's a survival thriller, and survival thrillers are kind of horror movies. Like, you know, our horror books. Like, it's the kind of thriller that, you know, whether it's grizzly attacks or shark attacks, it's sort of like, that's, that is really the the genre that's really on the edge of thriller and horror. So, I mean, it's, it's impossible to decide where to put it, put it whatever's near the front of the store. Life, right. And I think my opinion changes on it, you know, like, today, I'm kind of feeling horror, but if you asked me tomorrow, maybe I'd say thriller. I mean, it's like, I mean, as a guy who just generally writes horror, or horror, Jason stuff, anyway, I have such an affection for the genre, that it's hard for me to not want to put it in horror, just cuz I love horror so much. But you know, and it fits, there's as much as a lot of the stuff I've written where it's like, you know, a lot of my books aren't even primarily horror books, but there are enough that they get to get shelled in there. And as you guys, I don't have to tell you this, or anyone listening to this, but it's such a, it's such a broad umbrella that I think it can fit something like this, where there's the horror of well, fall is kind of the of the existential variety. There's certainly suspense and claustrophobia. But there's a lot of also just, and this is maybe where the Sci Fi comes in, but there's almost a cosmic element to it, at some point. And the horror is, as is kind of one of pondering one's own existence. And if it matter, that kind of thing. But once you get on that road, then it's like, Well, isn't that most so called literary fiction, like pondering your place in the universal? You know, I don't know, I've ended up just confusing the question basically.
Michael David Wilson 33:06
At that point, too, I mean, you're now making a persuasive argument for shelving get in the philosophy section. Rather than narrow it down. You've just added another category you put silage can complete it. But I mean, at the core, a lot of this book is about death. It is about existence. I mean, you've got the GIL narrative, and you've got da kind of coming to terms with navigating both the death of his father met and their problematic at times relationship that they had. And then you've also got the literal being stuck inside a whale. So I mean, he went obviously, he went diving to search for his father's remains and then got stuck inside a literal way oil and he's trying to navigate his way out but to navigate his way out of that he has to navigate his way through his tumultuous past and all the things that he's been trying to avoid.
Daniel Kraus 34:15
Yeah, yeah, it's, it's um, I mean, that's a really good way to put it you've synopsize it very well, like the horror of it is really the horror ones it's tough to Emilio horror, but it's also the horror of the idea of like turning into someone that you don't want a or or you're somehow programmed to be a kind of person you don't want to be and then you know in the process of this book, finding out you know, J slowly grappling with the idea that maybe being that person you want to be is kind of way needs to be to survive. I have
Bob Pastorella 35:03
Yeah, it falls into the, the only way out is through which I love that concept. Because if you want to escape something, you must go through it.
Daniel Kraus 35:15
Yeah, I wonder if there's a, I'm not very fluent in therapy, speak or like, principles of, of therapy, and psychology, but I wonder if there's something that if a therapist read the book, they could say, Yes, this is exercising this principle of, like, you're saying, by going through something, and going through it totally, and experiencing all of it as a way to, to sort of like, release yourself of it. You know, like, that's, it sounds like, like a psychological principle. And it certainly describes the book pretty well.
Bob Pastorella 36:00
Well, I believe that, you know, overcoming fears, that's, that's one of many therapies that you used, as, you know, basically, you know, exposing yourself to it. I know that I've done that, you know, for myself, you know, I have a fear of heights, occasionally, you will find me on a ladder, not comfortably. But, you know, it's it, you know, I'm like, Okay, I'm an adult male, I have to do this, and I have to get on a ladder to do this. So I'm going to, I'm going to face it, I'm not going to like it. But I still have a certain point, I'm not going to get past because I haven't been able to get through that fear yet. You know, so, may I see now a lot it was, you know, he ended I mean, not just in, in a literal sense, but like metaphorically and all that and to me, that that rings have a, you know, philosophical literary bent. That, you know, just adds another, you know, category where you could find the book, you know, Sosa's. Yeah,
Daniel Kraus 37:08
I mean, he does have to kind of go through the whale or, or if he's gonna get out and live, he will have to try to go through the whale in a weird way. Yeah, it's, it's a concept that lends itself so much to metaphor, like being swallowed up by like, a son can get swallowed up by his father's life for personality. Like any kid cam, it's the whole idea of what a well fall is and how that relates to a book. It's, it's, um, yeah, it's one of those things where, you know, I start, I started writing it from a premise, and then it just got richer and richer, the more I kind of got into it. It's hard to explain there's a certain magic to, to certain books, where just everything clicks, everything automatically clicks. And if you could do if you could plan it and understand it, totally, you would, you would keep it to yourself, right? A million bestsellers. But there's, I can't, I can't, I can sit here and say, be like, How can I replicate the success of this and there's, there's no way you just, these are impossible things to put your hands around. Like, there's elements are utterly uncontrollable.
Bob Pastorella 38:31
But that feeling of felt that feeling it's, it's the high that we strive for. And you know, we might write 50 books, but when we have that one that clicks, everything seems to go together. And there's not much work. That's why we write because it's supposed to be fun. And not every book is going to do that. Some of them are like pulling teeth. But I I've experienced that feeling. You know, I don't have a book that I've written a book that's that published yet, but it clicked. It's like, every single thing flowed into place. And man is, to me, it's like, man, like you're saying, if you could replicate that, not just because it might be success, but that's, that's kind of like what we what we strive for, you know, in telling stories is we want everything to mesh. And I love that feeling. I want to bottle it and sell it, but I'll keep it to myself.
Daniel Kraus 39:28
And I feel like generally when I'm writing, I have all my books. I feel like have moments of that, you know, are really very happy with my books when I finish on it. Yeah, this was this was good. I liked it. With with this one. What felt different, I guess was the awareness I had all along that this was a very, very meaty book. Like how visceral it is like literally viscera. And yet, there felt it felt out to me. And it's obviously proven out that there was the book had brought her arms than most of my stuff like. And the horror genre is perfect place to talk about this kind of thing, because almost by its nature, you're writing something that's going to alienate most people right out of the gate, like, just by the section that's follow them, you know. And, you know, for the average person on the street, person picking up a book at airport bookstore, who is not not a heavy reader or something. Most horror books are going to alienate them within the first few pages of thinking that, Oh, this is one of those kinds of books. And my books do exactly the same thing. What was so rare about this? Is this was a case where I could do all the things that I normally want to do. Yet I could, I could feel that there was something about this that would, my hunch was would be appealing to a broader audience. And I, and honestly, I didn't know exactly how to feel about that. It certainly wasn't something I was chasing. In fact, if anything, particularly when you get into the end of welfare, I was, I was going the other way, like, I was like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna go whole hog with this and go nuts. And yet, there was, you know, as I said, at the very beginning, there's something about the premise that just feels like, it is graspable to people in a way that, you know, if I handed them the living dead, or rotters, or any other books that are, you know, I love to, I could see them being repelled by it faster. And generally, I don't even trust popular books. Like, I feel like if everyone loves a book, there's something suspicious about it. I generally, you know, I gravitate to the far edges, you know, my, there's nothing I like better than discovering a book that no one has talking about, or no one has read yet. Like, that's, that's my sweet spot. And I'm happy and happy and displeased, equally that most of my books fit into that category. You know, they're just like, there's a small percentage of weirdos who liked them. And that's exactly how I like it. But it's, it's good to have some, some commercial bangers every once in a while, I suppose by accident, long as you're not trying to do it, then, you know, one thing I can assure readers, longtime readers of mine, is that the books I have coming up after a whale fall are not going to be chasing the crowd pleaser, mantle by any means. The first thing I realized this is about as hardcore of thing as ever I've ever written. So like, I'm not softening one bit, so don't worry about that.
Michael David Wilson 42:53
Yeah, I will attempt to get into that later. And I say attempt because I know that you'll probably say, I can't talk about any of this. I'm warning you. I'm still gonna try and go there. But I mean, you said before this is 100%, scientifically accurate story. Now, I'm wondering, how much did you know about this kind of area? Before you started writing the book, you've said that you had to do a lot of research, you had to do research for moms, you had to conduct interviews with experts. But what did you know about whales about whale fall about the ocean? Before you started writing this?
Daniel Kraus 43:46
Nothing? Zero. Less Than Zero, like, had never been particularly interested in whales beyond just general interest in creatures and I guess I didn't grow up in your water. Not a good swimmer. Never been diving, certainly. Because I could barely swim. I don't know anything particular about the oceans. I mean, I You could not I could not have picked a topic almost that I knew less about to start with. But you know, with every book I do, that's part of, you know, part of my weird career has been dragging all over the place, like whether it's comic books, adult books, middle grade books, young adult books, graphic novels, whatever. Every book is sort of I try to append what I know about writing books so that there's a freshness to every time I start. I want it to feel like I'm having to figure out how to write a book again by creating a bunch of new problems for myself. And so that's what I think appealed to me immediately about this premise is that once again, I would have to I'd have to write a book in a completely new way. because you can't even for the first time, I encountered a premise that I couldn't even begin to plot. Without researching, I'd have to talk to a bunch of experts to even get a sense of, you know, what is the terrain inside a whale? And in the slightest idea, you know, like, could was it as big as a room? Could you walk into? Can you move in? Is there air in there, you know, like, I didn't know anything. So before I even begin to outline what a character might do in there, I had to start with a very, very basics. And so generally, when I'm writing, I'm kind of researching. I usually front load some research, but I'm also researching as I go, and as needed, and so forth. This was one where I had to just, I'm going to talk to whale scientists and read well, related texts for a good solid three months to figure out what can even what is even possible. And only then, can I start planning what might happen. So yeah, it was a weird process that was essentially, you know, a lot of people helped me a lot of experts, diving experts, so forth. I had one main diving expert, and three main will, scientist who were my core people that I, that I spoke to the most and threw ideas off of, and those are the ones who talked to me endlessly on the phone, and emails and doing zooms where we would kind of go through biology together, you know, they would kind of hold up models, and I would try to ask questions about them. And it was, it was, I would say, it's like taking a college class in advanced whale, like, but without having any that prerequisites, like, Yeah, but I had two teachers that I could talk to, and I could ask questions about our class questions, too. So it was just a weird, slow process of them. You know, these are all people at the top of their fields, they would have to kind of learn along with me how to speak to someone who doesn't know, anything, you know, like, they're so used to speaking to other experts, that they would occasionally make assumptions just naturally, because we're used to it. of, you know, this is where the SO and SO valve is, and I have to stop them repeatedly and say, I don't know what that is. And that would be a, you know, 45 minute tangent. What is that? And a lot of the things I was after were things they weren't even used to people asking you about, like, what color is it? What does it smell like? What does it feel like?
Could you push it with your hands? Could you move from this space to the other? Could you grab hold of this thing if you manipulate it a certain way? And
just all these to them? I think pretty fun questions like, there I think used to have more scientific student minutia. And I was asking, I was more like a child talking about a jungle gym, kind of like, what's it like to play in there? Almost, you know, and it was, I think, fun for everyone, they seem to really get into
Michael David Wilson 48:22
it. Yeah. And I feel that this is the antithesis of right what you know. And I feel that this is typically what you do, this is kind of similar to how you went about the book with Romero in that you really researched deeply into the composition, amongst other things. And so I feel your mode, if ever there is such a thing as rather than write what you know, and write what you don't know. And then get to know it.
Daniel Kraus 48:58
Totally. Yeah, that's kind of I've never put it exactly that way. But I think that is a larger career Mo is to is to keep refreshing with every book, a new set of problems and forcing yourself to deal with things that are no and I think I you know, I know writers to whom that would just sound like the worst way to operate forever. And it's like, why would you want to make it harder than it already is? But I don't know maybe I'm masochistic. But like, it's that's what makes it fun to me is is having to learn new rules and I think that what you know, once you get past a, you know, a handful of books in your career urine. You're just as big as a human being in danger of starting to repeat yourself and starting to fall back on common themes and plot skeletons and stuff like that. You I want to really try to avoid that. And I've done it by just constantly switching up genres, or at least sub genres and modes of writing and points of view. And, you know, even, you know, we might have talked about this last time, but even like little weird things like my blood sugar, where I just like, I decide, I'm just going to not use certain punctuation marks. And, or dashes, or just like little things that forced me to deal with new ways of thinking and writing have been, you know, I'll probably never stop those little mini challenges now, like, because they push me, they pushed me in a really good way. It's just fun. It just keeps my brain work. And I think, like I don't I, I really have mad respect for people who are writing book number 12, and a series but I don't understand it at all. Like I think my brain would turn into to mush. I think a lot of us who were brought up, and Stephen King or whatever, who, at least back in the day, didn't write series, he wrote, you know, just one offs. Like that's, that's what always saved me as a kid. And what pushes me now is, the idea of following up on book was something that couldn't be more different. Like that's, that's exciting. I think it's potentially not the best thing for one's career in the short term. But in the long term, I think is good. I think it's short term, but you you risk losing people and confusing readers. But I think in the long term, if you can get past that survive long enough. That variation, eventually becomes your brand. So you don't have to be the guy who writes vampire books, you can be the guy who writes, you don't know what the hell he's gonna write. And that becomes the brand. That's what I don't know if I'm there or not. But that's where I want to be.
Michael David Wilson 52:01
Yeah, yeah. Well, I think that's what some of the most exciting writers within the genre using that very widely, because as soon as they jump in outside of the genre, but that's what a lot of these exciting, right is doing. I mean, you can never predict what the next Josh Malerman book will be about what the next Paul Tremblay book will be about because, yeah, they could tap into anything.
Daniel Kraus 52:34
Yeah, yeah, that's, that's, that's where you want to be, I think, as a creator, well, no, again, not all creator, somebody, somebody really does want to be reading number 12 in the series. And again, I respect that, like, digging, just like picking a spot on the earth and digging deeper and deeper and deeper. There's something kind of cool to that. But is not, not in the cards for me.
Michael David Wilson 52:59
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you just ultimately have to do whatever it is that's bringing you joy that's making you continue to do this. And so I mean, given your approach, it would appear that you know, with each book, you're becoming a smarter individual, you're becoming more knowledgeable, if ever at a party, which you probably wouldn't be at because of being a super introvert. But if you were at a party, and someone bizarrely wanted to talk about, you know, scuba diving and being stuck inside a whale, it's like, Oh, have I got the information for you? And if you want to know about bodies decomposing, I can tell you about that, too. Yeah, I probably get kicked out at the party at that point. But
Daniel Kraus 53:49
it's very true. Some of it though, I think, again, because I put out a kind of a lot of books, some of it, I think falls away, which is unfortunate. Like I did a book a couple years ago called wrath. That was extremely scientific. Again, it was another one that's entirely scientifically accurate. I co wrote it with this geneticist named Sharon Moylan. And it's sort of about this very, very near future phenomena that you'll be seeing soon about designer pet. So pets that are sort of their DNA has been sort of messed with so that they're cuter or smarter or whatever. And, I mean, I learned so so much doing that. And I feel like it's wiped from my head already. Like, like I used to be able to talk about individual proteins, strands of whatever DNA and blah, blah, blah, I don't even know anymore. It's like it's, it's, I have so much new information coming in. You know, it's interesting whenever I run into someone from my childhood, I'm always struck by how much better they remember, youth or youth to get than I do, like, they'll remember all these stories and I'm like completely blanking. And I wonder if it's because they're, you know, a lot of them are sort of in jobs where they, you know, more or less kind of do the same kind of thing and use the knowledge base, a certain kind of knowledge base, whereas I'm completely flushing my head again and again with new reservoirs of knowledge that things are dropping off, you know, like, um, I don't have I don't think a good memory for long term things anymore. Like are really once I started writing maybe never really had like, a get together with old friends and I don't have any memory of what they're talking about. But I can tell them all about a sperm whale's larynx.
Michael David Wilson 55:43
Yeah, we just made slight for a bizarre juxtaposition when I was like, remember that time on the playground when we did this? And it's like, no, but I got I got one of the way it was. Larry. Wiki, Daniel, dude.
Thank you so much for listening to part one of our conversation with Daniel Krause. Join us again next time for the second and final part. But if you want to get that ahead of the crowd, if you want every conversation I had at a crowd, then become our Patreon, a patreon.com. Forward slash, This Is Horror. You can also submit questions to each and every guest. And soon we will be chatting to the likes of Tim Wagner, Chuck Wendy, and many others. So head to patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Have a little look at what we offer. And if it's a good fit for you, I would love for you to join us. Okay, before I wrap up, an advert break.
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