TIH 529: Daniel Kraus on Whales, Secret Writing Projects, and Grave Robbery

TIH 529 Daniel Kraus on Whales, Secret Writing Projects, and Grave Robbery

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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Dark doings are afoot in the forests of Charwood … Josh Schlossberg brings you CHARWOOD, an eco folk horror novel 5,783 years in the making. After joining the Tenders—a band of backwoods activists claiming to solve climate change by burning trees for energy—Orna Tannenbaum falls in with Rowan, their odd yet charming leader. But when Orna uncovers what the Tenders are really up to in the forest, she must apply the ancient wisdom of her culture to battle dark forces threatening to gain a foothold in our world.

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.

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Michael David Wilson 0:28

Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson and every episode alongside my co host, Bob Pastorella. We chat with the world's best writers about writing, life lessons, creativity, and much more. Today we are chatting with Daniel Krauss for the second part of our conversation. We talk about writer's secret forthcoming projects. And of course we dig even deeper into his brand new book away or full. Now in case you missed a skinny last time, let me tell you, the quick pitch for whale fall. Way or fall is a scientifically accurate thriller about a scuba diver who has been swallowed by an 80 foot 60 ton sperm whale and has only one hour to escape before his oxygen runs out. So it is an exciting one. It weaves a dual narrative. And if you haven't already, then I do recommend picking up way or full. Now before we get in to the conversation, a little bit of an advert break

Bob Pastorella 1:54

dark doings our foot in the force of Charlwood from madness hard press, Josh Schlosberg brings you Charlwood an eco folk horror novel 5783 years in the making. After joining the tenders a van a backwoods activists claiming to solve climate change by burning trees for energy. Honor Tenenbaum falls in would ruin their audience coming later. But when honor uncovers what the tenders are really up to in the forest, she must apply the ancient wisdom of her culture to battle dark forces threatening to gain a foothold in our world. 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. 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 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 3:00

Okay, here it is. It is part two, with Daniel Krauss on This Is Horror. Jumping in two months of intense research is going to be somewhat intimidating. And I wonder, before you embarked on that, did you pitch the book to your agent or your publicist? Or your editor? So did you sell the book before you started the research? Yes, thinking from a practicality point of view? Or did you just jump into it? And you know, I'm going to do this anyway, as you said you, you're prolific. So there probably were a number of books that you had sold in the interim, and you could shop around but I'm wondering what came first, the research, you're the selling of the book.

Daniel Kraus 3:59

Definitely the research. Occasionally, I do sell things purely on proposal, but usually even those proposals require a lot of research. A lot of times though, what I do is what I do with welfare, which was kind of just work on the book, and don't tell anyone. I am sure I had written a good deal of it before I even told anyone that I was working on it. So all these months of research were being done in isolation. So no agents, no editors, no one knows what I'm doing. That's typically typically how I work. That That way when I get to the point where I have to tell my agent or whoever, Hey, um, what do you think about this? If they were to say, I'm not sure about that, I have the safe sort of fallback of saying, well, it's too late. Because I'm already I'm already doing it. I'm halfway through it or I'm done with it or you know, wherever, whatever. The situation is it's always a risk, obviously. You know, this was, although I had a good feeling about well thought like I didn't steal it, there's a weirdness to the idea. I could have seen someone saying what they are, or more specifically, and I did hear this from some parts when I started telling people the idea, are you sure that's a whole book? You know, you should assign a short story? Or how do you get a whole book out of that, you know, as as fascinating as it may sound. So I don't really want to hear that kind of stuff in the fragile planning stage like, is important. And that's generally why I don't kind of share things early is it's important for me to get really excited about a topic and not have anyone throwing doubt into our mind. Like, if I'm feeling good about it, then I'm powering ahead. I'm just gonna, that I'm convinced at this stage in my career, that that's going to provide dividends, like if I'm really that excited about it, it's probably it's probably working. And that doesn't mean when I tell people what the idea is, that they'll be on board. Because often they aren't. But by that point, I'm fully on board. And that's kind of good, because that means I can't, I'm not being dictated by any market demands. And it, I'm not being swayed by how much this book is going to sell or how much it isn't going to sell. It's just something that I'm already doing. You know, like, there's a, there's many examples, blood sugar is a classic example, for that was a book that feels and reads nothing like anything I've done before since. And probably everyone in my career sideways said, no, no, don't do don't do that. Like, that's not gonna make sense to anyone. It's like, if I were to write a romance or something, it just everyone were telling me not to do it. But by then it's too late. You know, I've done it. So now we have to deal with the object is here now. So let's sell it.

Michael David Wilson 7:21

Yeah, yeah. And from a practical point of view, I mean, how do you go about how did you go about finding way or experts and academics? And I mean, given how closely they worked with you, did you have to pay them for their time? Did you have to come up with a contract? I mean, what what were the logistical elements of that? Side note related to it, I believe to that you had a scuba diver literally doing the die. Who's the in this book?

Daniel Kraus 8:00

Yeah, that's right. I, regionally the morning after I came up the idea, that's when I contacted Mary Roach. So she's the nonfiction writer has written a lot of popular nonfiction books. So she's interviewed everyone, everyone about everything. Anything that's weird, or dark or strange, she's probably touched on at some point. So I contacted her that next morning and said, Hey, have you ever talked to anyone about being swallowed by a whale and if that were possible, and and sure enough, she had, she wrote a whole book about swallowing, which I had forgotten about called gulp. I even owned it, I just forgotten that morning. And there's two pages in there where she speaks to a well expert who said, if it were a sperm whale, it would be theoretically possible. And all other whales have these tiny little throats that could possibly swallow a person. So she introduced me to this well, expert that she spoke to. And he was fascinated by the idea and then connected me with a couple more well, experts. And between them, they had sort of specialties in behavior of the throat, the stomach. So really all the things that I really needed. And that was my core group of, well, experts. And no, I didn't pay them, I wouldn't have been able to pay them for all the time that they put in. They hopefully all have good paying academic jobs that they're doing. Okay. They really seemed to love the process like it. I think it was just really cool to think about Wales as as a container of sort of this other of this other life. It was just a totally new way to think about what they think about all the time. Now my diving ex spurred, who also advised me sort of, you know, out of the goodness of his heart, I did pay him to do those dives, because that's what you actually CZ, he's a videographer. And part of that is underwater videography. So doing this dive, the diet that the characters in the book for him is not a particularly difficult dive. And it's right there. He lives in Monterrey. So it's right there where he lives 10 minutes away from he's, he's died there many times. But still, the potential as I talked about in the book, the potential when things go wrong is there, it's a dangerous speech, certainly for anyone who's not an expert at what they're doing. So yes, I paid him he did the dive. He ended up giving, he ended up doing the dive twice, he did the dive once in some kind of went wrong with the camera. And he did it again. And I think he had some extra footage of others of other dives that he'd done at monastery. So he gave me more more than I, you know, could have asked for really. And suddenly, I had this incredible visual record of the entire diet inch by inch. And on top of that, I went out to monastery beach. And I videotaped everything from parking in the car walking down the path to going over the dunes. So I had a the entire book until the minute the whale shows up, I have essentially on camera. So I had a really complete visual map of what I was referencing. So I was just dealing then with the the character and the sort of personality beats and thematic stuff once, once he got swallowed by the whale, of course, all visual references, like videotape references, obviously, were gone. And that's when I, you know, called upon the whale experts to help you sort of fill in all of that. And then you know, I also have a crude a library of books about whales, some of which are really academic in nature, that just have more or less shots of whale innards, you know, that really pretty gross, just have various whales sort of like that, whether that's their bones, or here's what their intestines look like, or just sort of like, what you might in the special effects word you would call gore. But here's sort of scientific, presented sort of scientifically. So between all that I had, I eventually had a fairly good appreciation of what it would look like and feel like in there.

Michael David Wilson 12:54

Yeah, it's just such such a fascinating and intimidating way. You need to go about things. And I, I imagine, too, as well, like, it could have potentially been a challenge or an interesting one for your editor to deal with as well, because at the point where it gets to your editor, it has scientifically been fact packed. But obviously, you know, they need to look at making it a cohesive story and the narrative and making sure that it's got all of those beats. So they're almost all the moving parts that you would have if you're putting a academic nonfiction book together. And then you've got to make sure that it's completely fitting the kind of fiction or form as well. So yeah,

Daniel Kraus 13:51

it was Yeah, I mean, an editor is going to be a good check on. Did I get lost in the science weeds? Can they follow along, you know, because my character is not a whale scientist. He knows, he knows maybe more about whales than the average person. But he doesn't know anything to the level of my experts. So in theory, we're, we're figuring it out along with him. And it wouldn't make any sense for the script to have too many or for the book to have too many hard science sections because he wouldn't know any of that. So that my editor would certainly then point out where I don't understand this. So this sounds this is over my head. I don't want any of that because in the in the minute of being inside the whale and kind of panicking and trying to solve the problem, you're not going to be like talking about some sort of obscure science facts, you know, like I had to keep it grounded in sort of background, the science and make Make every fact that he has to retrieve from something his father said. Part of the emotional journey, I mean, an issue I had when when planning the book was, what's happening in the stomach is so immediate and dramatic. Would leaving that stomach at any point for flashbacks just be a letdown for the readers, like every time you left the stomach would be like, the stakes are so high, how can how can we ever want to leave the stomach? So my solution to that was to tie every bit of knowledge he needed to something emotional, like, like he could have just like been remembering things you read in a textbook, right? But that's that would have been unsatisfying. You know, if if every piece of knowledge he has to unearth and re experience some terrible or difficult relationship moment, then that makes that sort of undergirds, like every every decision he makes now has this has this weight of emotion to it. So instead of being a pain, to sort of go away from the stomach, it was ratcheting up what was happening was stuck. At least that was the the idea.

Michael David Wilson 16:24

Yeah, I definitely think that you pulled it off successfully. And then yet another two challenges that you had, amongst many others, where this is told in real time. So you've got the challenge of writing a real time book. And if we're thinking about purely the whale part, the diving part of the narrative, this is a single location book. So I mean, how did you go about that? What were some of the challenges that were unique to writing both a real time book and a single location book?

Daniel Kraus 17:06

Yeah, I think this in some ways, this book was kind of inevitable. At least parts of it were because I'm so has been so intrigued by single location, stories, I love them. I generally love movies that are based on plays, I just I really, like, you know, I feel like when you, when you're, you're doing something in a single location, particularly if you're doing it real time, even more. So you're taking away you're stripping yourself of almost all the tools and magic tricks you have, as an artist, that you can't use the sort of segues anymore, you can't just refresh the situation by by having a new, interesting location. There's no temporal jumps you can use, there's all sorts of things you can do as a writer with those. It's almost like, in some ways, and I'm not a huge Tarantino fan, but but I always respected when he made the hate void. That, you know, here's a guy who has, as the as the statute is do whatever he wants, and he's gonna make a single location. Movie, because I think that's sort of like a proving ground, like do you really have the stuff where you can put all your players in one space as the clock ticks, and you can make it interesting, I think that's why playwrights used to be in store but of course, not that many people see plays anymore, were held in such high esteem is that they, they were like, I'm not gonna, I'm not going to be able to hide behind cinematography or music, we're just going to just have to show you what I've got at a real bass talent level. I've done a real one real time book before, called Scoular. And I learned when I when I wrote that, that that's really hard. Like, I thought to some degree, it might simplify things. Like, you know, instead of having the world as your oyster like I can, I can jump wherever I want, it's my book. by really getting rid of the options, you're giving herself a lot of paperwork at the very least, like, you know, in this he has a certain amount of air in his tank, he that's going to run out at a certain point. So I needed to know where he was going to be and how much air he was going to have left at every single point in the book every every minute of his existence, and there had to be accounted for. So that's just hard. It's a lot of like, math, and again, a kind of way like it's, it's, it's not the fun stuff that most people think of when they write. I'm just gonna write it's gonna be fun, and I'm going to come up with a bunch of cool things. Now it's like this all has to be tethered to reality at every moment. And that's work. That's the work part of it, right? Like to make it all function realistically, there were a lot of things I wanted to do in the book and couldn't because one of my experts would be like, No, you just that just wouldn't, wouldn't fly. And so a lot of cool things I had envisioned there now, so I'd have to find another route. But that always ended up kind of making it better than and not worse. I don't know, it was how I lost track of the question.

Michael David Wilson 20:28

Well, I wanted to jump into the kind of second part of this dual narrative, because I mean, unbelievably, or probably shouldn't be unbelievably, actually, for people who listen to This Is Horror and know how long we can talk about a very specific point, but we haven't really even got in to the second part. They're kind of flashbacks to childhood. I want to know, firstly, what was what is your relationship like with your father?

Daniel Kraus 21:04

Um, you asked that very directly. i

Michael David Wilson 21:08

Yeah, yeah. We're not messing about

Daniel Kraus 21:11

respect that. Complicated, you know, there are, I should front load this by saying, He's nothing like like MIT. MIT in the book goes two steps beyond the pale. Like, there's sort of the if you've read the book, that's the sort of scene of bar aboard his boat, where he just sort of, he takes a step beyond, there's nothing like that that's ever happened to me. So I'm gonna make that sort of abundantly clear. My dad is a very good person. That That said, Did we have did we clash in in a way that like, J and mid class? Yeah, I would say so. I grew up in iOS, there's no oceans there. But my dad was a big hunter. And had, you know, households is filled with heads and antlers and all that kind of thing, which I have no problem with whatsoever. He's, he was a bow hunter. Used, you know, what he caught, you know, very sustainable. Like, he did it as well as anyone can, but I wasn't ever really interested in it. And grew to really, more actively dislike it for all sorts of reasons. And I think that that was a bigger struggle for both of us than I would have guessed. Or you might guess hearing it. You know, I think it meant so much to him hunting did. And then eventually, it meant so much to me to not do it. Like that. We were it might seem like a small thing, but the loggerheads we're at did I think create friction, and then ultimately kind of fiction, like, there's some of that that clearly feeds in into this. And, and some of this, you know, some of the feelings that of Jay feeling like he's not masculine enough for can't, in some ways insufficient as the sort of male heir to his his father, like that stuff. I can't all put on my dad certainly, but it's but for whatever reason, it is stuff that I felt that maybe it wasn't warranted, but I did feel some of it. So that kind of stuff, I think, did go into my first three books, you know, clearly it was something that was on my mind, I think, monster races, particularly writers and scholar are all there's this things in those books that are like that, or that were at least based on father son relationships. And then after those very early books of mine, I was kind of like, Alright, I've kind of dealt with that. I'm gonna move on. And then when I was trying to match up a relationship to the premise and again, it was a premise that I found well, sort of prime you almost like, wanting to match it with the most primal relationship there was the first relationship ever have. So I couldn't made the relationship, anything but I kind of felt like in my first couple of books, I wrote around it a little bit, and I kind of felt like this is what Bob was talking about. I'm just gonna write through it. I'm just gonna like, I'm gonna write about this father son relationship one more time and not dodge anything and just go straight through it and see if I can't light my personal load Well, while I'm at you know, and I I think what's one of the biggest surprises to me in the, in the book, or in the reaction to the book has been how many people have strongly identified with that relationship? You know, I've had people tell me that they finished the book and immediately called their fathers. And I've had people who have had the opposite, but just as powerful reaction, saying, This is why I can't talk to my father or whatever. So clearly, there's something as that kind of had a sense of what wasn't sure. But clearly, there's something universal happening here in this kind of relationship of not being who you at least think your parents wanted you to be. And having to kind of fight against that.

Michael David Wilson 25:55

Did you find that in the writing? It did lighten your own load? Was there something cathartic in doing so? Yeah, I

Daniel Kraus 26:05

really think there was because what really surprised me and again, I've heard this from readers too, is how much I began sympathizing and empathizing with MIT in the book. I think I started the book as a writer, like most people start the book as a reader, where it's like your Team J from the Start course you are the books with his point of view, he seems like you've got, he's got this jerk for a dad. But then as as the book goes on, I began to really feel like I began to understand MIT better, and that he didn't, the all those lessons that he tried to hammer into j that Jay wasn't interested in hearing and began to resent were myths clumsy way of showing love, like if the lessons were his love what even it doesn't mean, you did them well, or applied them well. But that's what that's, that was his love language, I guess you could say, and sort of modern terms. And so I was surprised by, you know, how I began to identify with MIT and saying, and thinking, I started this book, thinking I was J. Now I'm beginning to wonder if I'm also MIT, and I think readers have have replicated that statement to me, or is like, I think, I think maybe at the end of the day, we're all both of them, particularly as we get older, you start to identify more with kind of some of the things MIT did, or, or, or at least what he tried to do. Maybe we can look at some of our own missteps and foibles and relationships and say, Well, you know, the heart was sort of in the right place, but there was no, particularly Matthew, you know, you have to assume he had parents who are sort of like him, in some ways, didn't have the equipment didn't have the emotional equipment to, to know how to parent in a certain way that this one kid needed, like MIT seems to have a pretty decent relationship with other two kids in the book. So, you know, he's not a total waste of a human being he, he, in fact, and then the book goes on to sort of, you have to kind of admire him in a lot of ways. Like, he was really an environmental Crusader like his, his sort of what he believes in are are pretty irrefutably good things. So yeah, I think in that way, it was really cathartic. Like, that's sort of what the book is divided into these two sections called Truth and mercy. And that's really what the sections are all about. Like it, can it can you get past the facts of what you've done to each other, to instead, end up at a point of mercy of just saying, I understand what you tried to do. I don't have to forgive you unnecessarily. But I can understand. And, and maybe, to some extent, forgive, yeah. And vice versa, then it goes both ways.

Michael David Wilson 29:09

Yeah. Yeah. And you said that you find yourself identifying with or at least understanding metamod, the deeper you got into this book. Did you also then find yourself perhaps empathizing or understanding your father on a level that you hadn't previously? And then, related to that, I mean, is this kind of hunting conflict and maybe conflict is too strong a word, but this difference in opinion, is it something that you have ever spoken to your father about directly?

Daniel Kraus 29:49

Um, I mean, to the first part of the question, yeah, that's what I'm saying is that it didn't make me sort of understand and appreciate him all the more and I think that also comes which is getting older and you sort of, you know, your brashness fades a little bit, you, you, you understand how hard it is to do anything right in life? So, yeah, I certainly have a lot of, I think, showing them a lot more grace in my mind than they used to for sure. I know, we haven't spoken about it directly. You know, maybe we should, but for better or worse, and it's both, I think, I get a lot of this stuff out through writing, you know, like, I can't speak for anyone else. But And again, as I spoke, mentioned, you know, before, I'm not someone who's, you know, gotta go to a therapist. I probably probably all should, but I don't. And I think a lot of this stuff gets worked out in my books, you know, and I do feel better after having read oil for I do feel better about I'm sure a psychologist would say, No, that's not good enough, you have to go have our conversation or whatever. No doubt about that. But, but if this is, as far as it gets, it's something for me, I do feel sort of more peaceful about it, more understanding about it. And that's pretty rare. Like, I've written a lot of books that I really, like, I think are worthwhile. But it's very rare to read a book that like, changes my own mind about something like that's, that's almost like at foxing yourself, like, doing something that sneaks up on you as the writer to make you think differently about something or someone like that's, that's really peculiar and unusual. And I've only ever really thought about or phrased it like that until just now. But it's, that's kind of amazing. Really. I don't know that I've ever done that before, like, sort of surprised myself, like, and taught myself something like that seems almost like it should be impossible. But there it is.

Michael David Wilson 32:13

Yeah. Yeah. And, of course, we said, towards the start a day podcast that you may had recently passed away. But he passed away after his battle with cancer and committing suicide. Did you have any reluctance to include suicide within the story? And I mean, what experience do you have with suicide?

Daniel Kraus 32:48

Well, I don't have much thankfully, I have, you know, we all know, someone. Either who died by suicide or someone, you know, close to us who has had someone. But it's not someone in my immediate family hasn't died by suicide or anything like that. So that was something I was certainly concerned about. And publisher sent it out to the American Society of suicide prevention, I may be getting that acronym wrong. And they, they were fantastic. They had nothing really, but nice things to say about that really put our minds at ease. They just really enthusiastic about how the book presented itself, and the topic and then help us with language. At the very end of the book, there's sort of like a sort of, if you're, you know, the message you hear if if you're feeling ideation, suicide, there's some resources at the back. So they helped us with that. So yeah, something I definitely took seriously, but have been, you know, sort of in the same way that I've been cautiously really grateful to hear from, like, divers have gotten everything right. I've also similarly heard from not just this organization, but also individual people that the, the, any of the books or themes or plot points around the suicide have been handled? You know? Well, so that makes me feel very good. You know, the book, essentially, there's no heightening of the book just starts out with it. Any kind of suicide. So that's something that's baked in to the entire plot of it. So it was something that was certainly on my mind to do. do my homework on as much as I did with anything else.

Michael David Wilson 34:51

Yeah. Yeah. And then in terms of the family flashbacks was there I have a concern about pushback from readers that, you know, they've seen the marketing, they've seen the book and they're expecting, okay, this is all about being stuck inside the whale. But actually, every other chapter, we're going to flash back and we're going to be outside of the whale. Was it a concern? If so, what did you do union to alleviate those concerns?

Daniel Kraus 35:32

I mean, as I mentioned earlier, like I was, it was something that was, I knew can be a drag, like, whenever you're writing or reading a book, let's say that has different groups of characters, it could be Stephen King's the stand, just use a book that everyone knows. You know, inevitably there's going to be characters do you like more characters like last, and there's gonna be moments where you cut away from something, oh, I'm back to this character. I don't like them quite as I'm not as interested in their story as I am in this. So yeah, I was concerned about, as I mentioned before, the sort of trial of what's going on the stomach being so, so stressful and so immediate, that any break away from that would be a frustration. So it was certainly something I was from the get go, I was I was concerned about and wanted to come up with a way to make it every, every cut away to just make it more more compounded the tension in some ways. I think. What I mean, if there's one thing that people have, generally come away with this, but there's one thing I hear I've heard more than any other. And I guess it, probably the thing I wanted here, too, was that they went into this book, expecting it to be this breakneck, real time thriller. And it is that but they didn't expect to be so moved. They didn't expect to be in tears so much. Like, I like to think of this, you know, they're going in there thinking it's going to be 100% inside that way on there's gonna be no flashbacks. And then they find out oh, there's going to be these, these flashbacks, most of them are extremely short. But still, I think the general experience has been that those have been good. It has been a good surprise. Like it has been one that has they found surprisingly emotional, and weren't expecting, you know, in a high concept book. Like they're like there's something sort of powerful going on. And that was always what drew me to it. I wasn't, I was never all that. That fixated on the scares of the scares were sort of inherent like you're stuck inside of stomach that's gonna be very horrifying. But the whole whale is a concept was very far away from me. From something like Jaws like I never wanted the whale itself to be a source of fear. Like there's nothing the with the whales, not evil, the whales benevolent actually the whale, if anything, is so sorry that the human being ended up inside it. Yeah, so it was all about this sense of Auckland sort of majesty. Like that's what I was after. Not, not the horror, which is sort of inherent in being inside the stomach, but has nothing really to do with Wales of being it doesn't want it didn't want that person. So yeah, that's a that's a route of getting to that question. Hopefully the flashbacks are a bonus. Maybe you're not expecting them, but they're going to add something to it not take away.

Bob Pastorella 38:51

Did you? Did you start off writing? The history the flashbacks are did you write this as we as we see it.

Daniel Kraus 39:03

More A than B like, because this was real time. I had a lot of different kinds of outlines. I had sort of the plot outline of what was happening inside the stomach. And that was the one that took all the reserves and all that stuff. And then I had a different outline that was sort of things that had happened in Jay's life. Because the flashbacks they jump all over the place was for his entire life. So I had to have all my dates down when who are all the characters when were they born? What is their relationship to each other? And then I had a number of kind of scenarios that I had to come up with that would be interesting to explore between Jay and his dad. And I didn't. Some of them had very well thought out some of them were just suggestions like I might have I thought like, I like this idea of them both standing beneath the umbrella in the rain. And I didn't really know what what that was or where it went or. But I had had a collection of these. So then when I was writing, and you know, Jay is needing perhaps some piece of knowledge that he's going to have to wrench out of a traumatic experience, I can kind of look at this list. If I didn't already have a memory in mind and say which of these memories would would best sort of facilitate that kind of that element of know how that he needs right now. And then, of course, a lot of them just pop up as you as you write, like, you don't know what the next flashback is going to be by just start writing. And suddenly, there it is. And then I had, you know, a whole other document that was just all the fat, I mean, very long document that facts that I accumulated about whales about the interior whales about whaling and sailing history. About Monterey, California in general about Cannery Row, which is sort of the main drag of Monterey. So I had, I just had a wealth of information to draw from and I had all my maps and my nautical maps, and I just, I just had a lot of information that was always sort of spread before me, like come back a hand of cards. So I, I never felt like I was sort of high and dry. Like, I don't know where to go from this. I always had a bunch of possibilities. And then things would change and develop as I went.

Michael David Wilson 41:40

Well, we've got a number of Patreon questions, and I'm conscious of the time so we better get to some of these. So we're now deviating from way or full, we might jump back to it. Let's see what happens. But Brandon Simmons says, The recently on Twitter, you mentioned you're working on for secret projects, is that anything about them, you're ready to share?

Daniel Kraus 42:15

Almost nothing. Here's what I can say. I can kind of talk generally about genres or formats. I've done a graphic novel, that's it's entirely written, the art is being done. Now. I don't know when that will be announced. Another of the secret projects is a nonfiction book. So again, this is me trying to go in different directions. That I'm really, really having a blast with. That's, that's all I can say about that. One, I have nothing to say about it all. Caught there might be five. But anyway, the other the other one that I can sort of talk about a little bit is the one I referenced earlier, the book I wrote directly after a whale fall. So I can't talk too much specifically, but I can tell you that it's a science fiction book. So although I dealt with sort of alien, alien, an alien creature on Earth, and Ben heavens, I've never done like a full on Sci Fi spaceships and planets type of world building book. So that was with from Westfall, which is tiny space real time to the entire cosmos. Right. So that that was wonderful. Like I I've had just about more fun with that anything. I had so much fun working on the Sci Fi of the part of me wondered if I should have been running sci fi all this time. Because it was just so much fun. It one of the one of my darker books to like, like, really horrifying, like really, truly horrifying. Like in in preparation for writing, and I actually read a bunch of sci fi horror. And some of that I really liked and some of that I didn't. But I found a lot of stuff that I would classify and are like, kind of spooky and eerie, but I didn't find a ton of stuff that really I just found, like, genuinely upsetting. And I'm sure it's out there. I didn't I didn't read 100 books. There this is something that ranks up there some of the most horrifying stuff I've ever written. So I can't I can't say much more than that, but I'm really excited but

Michael David Wilson 44:43

well, we're excited to and I'm sure that they will get to read it in due course. Hopefully next year if it's the next book.

Daniel Kraus 44:56

I wouldn't necessarily guarantee it's gonna be the next book out Again, I got sort of a backlog, but it's got

Michael David Wilson 45:04

Yeah. Yeah. Do you know roughly how many books you have in your backlog?

Daniel Kraus 45:12

I'm not counting the next three graveyard girls, that's part of that middle grade series. So that that aside, got one, two. I would say five or five, maybe? Yeah. I got. Yeah, something like that. I'm trying to figure it out. But it's, I got a bunch. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 45:35

Yeah. And kind of related to having many different projects, many different books. Brandon also says, What is your writing routine, like we've writing several projects at once. Considering each project demands its own time, we've researched drafting and story level revisions.

Daniel Kraus 45:59

Well, as much as I can, I try to work out one thing at a time that I usually fail. But as much as possible, I will try to smash a project two together in one moment. So don't break from it. When I do break, I will prefer to do big breaks. Like I'm I'm two thirds their book right now. And because of other deadlines, I'm having to break from it. And I probably won't come back to it for six months. But I prefer those kind of big breaks, too. You know, for things going back and forth all the time, I'd much prefer to abandon something for a long time and put it away, in order to get those big chunks, you know, of concentrated writing time. That said, that's not always possible, when I really have to work on a couple things at once. Generally, I'll take the more complicated one, and I'll write it for four days a week. And I'll usually write the less complicated one, two days a week until one of one of them reaches a stopping point, or the book is finished. And then I can concentrate on the other one. That seems the four to two, break seems to be a good place to do it. Again, though. I'll try to avoid that. And obviously, even when you're doing two books, there might be something that suddenly pops up like I have copy editing approvals, or something for a third book, so I would just probably get those out of the way immediately. So I just take a day or two and just get that off my plate immediately. I don't like things hanging around. So when small things pop up, I usually deviate to the small things and just demolish them so that I can get back to the fewer bigger things on the plate.

Michael David Wilson 47:55

Yeah, speaking of which, what do you do when you're deep in writing a book, and then your brain invariably apropos of nothing brings you a new story ID? Because it seems to happen at the worst times. Like it'll be like, Oh, here's a story you could write. And it's like, well, I could, but I'm not right now. I'm writing something else. Yeah,

Daniel Kraus 48:21

I mean, generally those they just have to wait, you know, I've got all my notes. I write it, I write down the ideas. And I can take notes on an infinite number of projects. I'm always taking notes on more projects. But generally, that's just going to have to wait its turn every once in a while, like well, false, a good example. Something will will fall into a perfect schedule moment where I don't remember exactly what was going on. I suddenly had the wildfire idea. But it was something that had me that gave me at least space enough to push it. Like mom guessing that I was ahead of schedule on something. Usually, usually I'm ahead of schedule to varying degree. And so I was probably because of that buffer, I was able to push something several months. So I can focus on willful that's pretty rare. But it's great when it happens.

Michael David Wilson 49:20

Yeah. Yeah. Well turn in in a completely different direction. Larry Torre says, Knowing your involvement with the Romero family. Can you give us any insight on how the forthcoming final George Romero film, Twilight of the dead came about?

Daniel Kraus 49:48

Generally, I'm not talking too much about this project, only because it's not my conversation to have I do know various things about it. I have read some iteration I'm gonna I'm being vague on purpose. Yeah. But um, it's not my project to make news on. All I can say is that I have positive things to say about it. But I'll, I'll kind of wait to say it when it's appropriate, so that I'm not the one making any news on it. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson 50:19

Yeah, we don't want any kind of mainstream media like picking up on this. And then suddenly, it's the front page and you're having to make a call to the remainder of our state apologizing for this announcement that they effectively took from a sound bite. So yeah,

Daniel Kraus 50:37

right. Should be excited. There's, there's yeah, there's reasons to be excited. I'll say that.

Michael David Wilson 50:43

Oh, yeah. I think I, I mean, a new Romero film that that wasn't, that wasn't on my bingo card. I didn't expect that to happen. So yeah,

Daniel Kraus 50:53

it's archives, which are open to the public, you can't just walk in, but you know, you can make an appointment are filled with, filled with unmade scripts. So he's got a lot of stuff out there. So it'll be interesting over time, if some of them do get made. It's always bittersweet, because he had such a difficult time getting things made when he was alive. So anything that gets made sort of afterward, in my book included, is there's a bitter sweetness to it, because you wish he could have seen that happen. People always seem to pay him a lot of lip service and really want his sort of properties, but weren't particularly willing to give him money. Because his movies tended to take a few years for everyone to realize they were so that's not. That's not the model Hollywood operates on it has to it has to hit hard. Opening weekend or, or nothing.

Michael David Wilson 51:56

Yeah, yeah. And unfortunately, I mean, that's a pattern that we've seen throughout history. We've writers, I mean, Edgar Allan Poe never knew how famous he went on to be he was very much poor and unknown his entire life.

Daniel Kraus 52:15

Yeah, yeah. I mean, at least George knew. Yeah. He had made a huge impact. I think. I yeah,

Michael David Wilson 52:22

I don't

Daniel Kraus 52:23

I mean, you know, he was talking to his wife, like, he still didn't know the extent of it, you know, like, he would have been, you know, there's been so much interest around his stuff since he died. And I think he would have been going to her would have been shocked by it, like, would have been shocked anyway, at any interest in his unmade scripts in his archives. And, you know, he's had various sort of lost short films that have been rediscovered in the museum learn all that stuff. He didn't think anyone would have any interest in.

Michael David Wilson 53:00

Right? Yeah. Yeah. And this is, you know, the importance of if you like a writer, if you like an offer, and you're in a position to do so then, you know, support them while they're alive. Make their films. You know what, while they're still here, because, yeah, it's, I mean, I'd say bizarre, I guess it's not bizarre. It's, I get why it happens. But I mean, there's so much posthumous interest in not just writers, but artists of any form and it's like, but the real time to be, you know, celebrating them is when they're here with us, and they can enjoy that. Well, Alice feel and wants to know, did you interview any actual grave robbers for relatives?

Daniel Kraus 53:56

No, I mean, I don't I don't know that anyone would want to be interviewed for that. I did have a Google alert set up back when I was running routers. And weekly, at least weekly. I want to get hits news stories about grave robbing. So it certainly is something that's happening people are still robbing graves. Some of it I suspect, just for kicks, like there'll be a dug up grave and someone had taken the skull or but sometimes things would be items would be you know, missing from the casket so so no, I didn't speak to anyone I ever find anyone who was on record for it like they'd be, you know that in any kind of way that they would ever want to talk to me about and I'm not sure really that my fictional very writers would share a lot with them, as they were sort of, probably haphazard, narrow dwells just trying to, on a spur the moment doing something stupid where as my My crew is kind of this Knights of the Round Table type of grave robbers who had a whole code of ethics and that stuff so. But if you're a grave Robin, you're out there, I wouldn't be kind of interested in talking to you. So let me know.

Michael David Wilson 55:18

Yeah, maybe if there's any grave robbers listening, this could inspire another grave robbing book. I mean, you said that you don't really do sequels, but

Daniel Kraus 55:30

well, you don't. One of the few I've done a record of this before one of the few books, maybe my only book that I've, that I've kind of wanted to do a sequel to as writers, I've, I've known for years what the story would be. But I couldn't, I can't get the publisher behind it. I can't explain why. But I've never been able to get the publisher, which is Random House onboard for writers equal. So yeah. Several 100 1000s of you want to demand it to them. Feel free? And I'll see if I can make it happen.

Michael David Wilson 56:08

Yeah. All right. The callin has been sacked. And you know, as per the previous question, like, make sure that it happens while Daniel is alive and start demanding in 100 years, because he's somehow stumbled upon this. This is our conversation. Maybe that's quite optimistic to assume that the archives over the This Is Horror Podcast will be about in 100 years. But But why not? Let's have that optimism. If you're listening in 100 years, it's too late. We're we're all dead. Unless technology has advanced in such a spectacular way. It's like this is robot Well, certain robot Bob and robot Daniel. But shifting away from that bizarre reality. Alice feeling also wants to know, having done books for both adults and younger readers. Do you have any advice on writing? Why a in the sense of how scary Can you make a kid or why a book and still keep it appropriate and publishable? Where would you say is the line if there is one?

Daniel Kraus 57:31

I don't think there's a line with horror stuff in the way. I think most of my darkest books were way Rotter scholar Ben Heavens are all probably the most twisted stuff is in there. I mean, I don't think there's been anything away that approaches scholar in in content, since that, that was 2013. I think. When you get in trouble with ya is sex stuff. It's almost never like violence or anything else in the disturbing category. So there is no I don't think there is a line. Individual publishers and individual editors may have their own personal lines. But I think I'm living proof that that there doesn't have to be aligned. With middle grade, obviously, that's different. You can't be you can't go whole hog with nine year olds or whatever. But that's not the question. The question is why so I would say in terms of violence or horror stuff, I wouldn't be afraid of almost anything is differentiated from adult that is like, I don't think there's anything any kind of content that wouldn't fly. I mean, if I was doing it a decade ago, and horror ya horror was like, non existent back there. There were back then there was a couple of us doing it. These days, why or big? So there, there might even be it might even be easier than ever. I don't really know, because I've been away or broken up in a little while. But that be my suspicion.

Michael David Wilson 59:06

All right. Well, thank you so much for chatting with us today. This has been a fascinating conversation where we have gone to so many different places. I love to read in way or fall. We haven't actually explicitly said but it is a very Pacey Fast Book. So if anyone has any misconceptions like you, you didn't fall into Moby Dick syndrome. Each chapter is very short. I know that you've said you know, as you kind of end the chapter, it's a little bit like coming up for a gasp of air and that is exactly what you get. So this is a remarkable book. I think that if people haven't read it or listen to the audio book, which is also fantastic then they absolutely should.

Daniel Kraus 59:58

Thank you Yeah, always love coming on. Can't wait till the next time.

Michael David Wilson 1:00:04

Yeah, yeah. Well, you've got enough new books that are in, you know, on the horizon, so I'm sure it won't happen. Yeah, there you go. So confirmed at least another 15 conversations on this top row of Daniel will maybe have to rebrand it to this is Daniel Krauss. You know, where can our listeners connect with you?

Daniel Kraus 1:00:37

Daniel cross.com is your best nexus point. I am currently on Twitter and blue sky. And that, that's pretty much it.

Michael David Wilson 1:00:50

All right. Do you have any final thoughts to leave our listeners with?

Daniel Kraus 1:00:57

No, not really. As we record this, it's almost the beginning of October. So I'm about to head into as, as are all of us probably into full time horror mode. So I'm just really looking forward to that. It's been a weird year of high highs for me and low lows for be, too. So it's, it's just what I've been waiting for. It's just like to sit down from the TV and watch some, some more movies and read some more novels. And I wish I hope that you are all doing likewise.

Michael David Wilson 1:01:31

Yeah, yeah. Do you have any kind of must read Halloween novels or stories or must watch films or kind of cut for Halloween films as it were?

Daniel Kraus 1:01:44

Not much. I try. I don't really rewatch or reread a lot. Like it's sort of like, in the same way that talk about how I keep trying to write different things. I've never been much one for rewatching rewriting, I constantly sort of crave new and unusual content. So my ultimate comfort watch, I really only have one or two, or is my living dead, which I could watch infinitely. And if there was a second one that to that, I'd say carnival souls, which I also am sort of borderline obsessed with. So there's always a chance I'll watch one of those.

Michael David Wilson 1:02:25

All right, fantastic recommendations. And thank you again for joining us. My pleasure.

Daniel Kraus 1:02:31

Thanks, guys.

Michael David Wilson 1:02:36

Thank you so much for listening to part two. With Daniel Krauss on This Is Horror. Join us again next time when we'll be chatting with Tim Wagner. But if you want to get that and every other episode ahead of the crowd, then become a patron of patreon.com forward slash This Is Horror. Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you get to submit questions to each and every interviewee. And we have such a lot of exciting guests coming up soon. We've got a conversation with Max booth to celebrate the release of the last horn. We'll also be talking to the likes of Rachel Harrison, Chuck Paula, Nick, and Matthew wholeness to name but a few new and returning guests to This Is Horror Podcast. So if you want to submit questions to them, if you want exclusive podcasts, including story unboxed a horror podcast on the craft of writing, if you want to get every episode ahead of the crowd, if you want video casts then head over to patreon.com forward slash. This is hora. Okay folks before I wrap up, a little bit of an advert break.

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Well, coming soon, at the end of this week, in fact, is my debut novel house of bad memories. And we are going to have a hell of a podcast weekend to commemorate the occasion. So do make sure that you are subscribed to our YouTube channel. You can do that@youtube.com forward slash at This Is Horror Podcast. Because the YouTube channel that is where a lot of the action is going down, and that is where it is going to be uploaded. So you have a hell of a lineup for you. There are going to be appearances from the likes of David moody, Joe Sullivan of cemetery gates media, Alan Baxter, and there's going to be a live launch event for house a bad memories and silent key by Laurel high tower. So plenty of gas, plenty of conversations. So going down the weekend of Friday, the 13th of October and Saturday, the 14th of October. I know discerning listeners will be like well, Friday and Saturday. Is that a weekend? Well, maybe some would argue no, but actually the timezone differences in me being in Japan means that it's going down Saturday and Sunday for me which very much is a weekend. But whatever it is, or it isn't a weekend youtube.com forward slash at This Is Horror Podcast. That's what you want to be subscribed to check out the website this is horror.co.uk for the specifics for the times that will be posted imminently. But until next time with Tim Wagner. Take care yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing and have a great, great day.

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