Today I am delighted to welcome American author of ‘Shepherd & the Professor’ , Dan Klefstad to Swirl and Thread.
Dan has agreed to let me have a little snoop inside his world where I have discovered many interesting facts about him.
Along the way, I also discovered that Dan will be making his first ever trip to Ireland later in the year and may even kiss The Blarney Stone!! Here’s hoping he will be awarded the ‘Gift of the Gab’ for that feat of dexterity!
Dan, I see that you are the host of ‘Morning Edition’ on WNIJ. Can you tell us a little of what this entails?
‘I do for a living what all writers and readers might consider practicing.
Let me explain: I arrive at work at 4:00 a.m. and begin preparing four newscasts per hour from 5 – 9 Central Time. Most of my prep is spent crafting good broadcast copy, which wastes zero words because of strict time limitations.
A lot of my initial copy comes from AP and other sources. My producer does the first edit and then I wield the metaphorical axe to chop out more words. When I’m finished the sentences are easy for me to read and easy for the listener to hear. I recommend that anyone who loves words borrow a book on radio writing. For writers, this is an excellent exercise in editing (an essential part of writing).
For readers who appreciate good writing, experimenting with broadcast copy is a great exercise in learning what makes good writing — using the fewest, most powerful words.’
The ‘Book Beat’ sounds very interesting Dan. Please share with us what this is about and also perhaps you could explain how you encourage and promote self-published writers?
‘I started the ‘Read With Me’ Book Series in Summer, 2012 and immediately discovered world class writers in the WNIJ area (northern Illinois & southern Wisconsin). Some of those I interviewed wrote books that rightly got traditional publishing contracts.
These include novelist Robert Hellenga (Bloomsbury USA), poet Amy Newman (Persea Books), and poker writer James McManus (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).
There are also plenty of indie authors here with traditional contracts (including myself) but so many good writers get ignored and resort to self-publishing. Others opt immediately to self-pub because these contracts offer better royalties than most indies.
For me, like many readers, the contract doesn’t matter. If the story is good, and the book got a good edit, I’ll happily feature the author. Ignoring self-published authors would be a terrible disservice because readers want diverse voices in literature, including those from their own town or county.
Here’s a link to my interview archive: http://northernpublicradio.org/term/wnijreadwithme-book-series
How did you get into writing yourself Dan? We would love to hear a little about your background.
‘I started writing my first novel when I was 16 after seeing the TV series “Reilly: Ace of Spies” starring Sam Neill (remember that?)
I wrote a vaguely similar story set in the same period (pre-WWI) but my story was terrible. Still, my mother encouraged me to keep writing so I did.’
Who would you consider to be the most important literary influences on your life to date?
‘I’ll keep it simple by naming two writers who influenced my latest novel, Shepherd & the Professor.
Robert Hellenga often features first-person female narrators and he gave me the courage to write from a woman’s perspective.
Poet Amy Newman’s book, “Dear Editor,” inspired the query letter aspect of my novel. Her book is among my favorites.’
Your book ‘Shepherd & The Professor’ is your debut. Is that correct? Could you please explain a little about the inspiration behind the character of Susan Shepherd?
‘Yes, this is my paperback debut.
The story was originally an e-novella written in third-person/past-tense but I found that format incredibly boring. So I changed the story into the fictional memoir of Susan Shepherd — Gulf War vet, cop and single mom — who has cancer when we meet her.
Susan is worried that people will forget her, and the many sacrifices she made, after she’s gone. So she starts querying publishers hoping one of them will turn her life story into a best-seller. After dozens of rejections, she’s down to her last publisher, and this book is basically one long query letter to a nameless, faceless employee at that firm.
I hoped this approach would reveal Susan’s fierce determination, and make her someone nearly anyone could identify with.’
I read that you are a lover of the ‘Blues’. Any particular artist? Where did this love of the ‘Blues’ come from?
‘I love the blues for its musical simplicity, which allows the listener to focus on the story. Every good blues song — like every good country song — has a story with a likeable protagonist and a story arc.
Some have a moral message, others just want to make you laugh or at least empathize. A great example, and one of my all-time favorites, is “House Rent Boogie” by John Lee Hooker.’
Click on the link here to have a listen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8h1HM3CdyP8
5 things we should know about your home town, Dekalb County…
- Supermodel Cindy Crawford was born and raised in the City of DeKalb.
- Barbed wire was invented here.
- The county has some of the world’s best soil for farming.
- Actor Richard Jenkins https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Jenkins was born here.
- And it’s home to Northern Illinois University which employs (or employed) some of the finest creative writers in the English language — including Amy Newman, Joe Bonomo, Molly McNett, Dan Libman, Susan Porterfield, GK Wuori, Katie Andraski, John Bradley, Joe Gastiger and the late zen poet Lucien Stryk.
So there you have it, everything (well almost!!), that you need to know about writer Dan Klefstad.
Thanks Dan for such an informative Q & A.
To read more about Dan’s book….see below!!
The blurb on Shepherd & the Professor
‘Most people take comfort knowing their family and friends will remember them after they die. For Susan Shepherd, “remembering” is bullshit. She wants an eternal shrine to her sacrifice: a book that never goes out of print.
Shepherd served her country in the Gulf War, got shot while serving her community as a cop, raised an ungrateful daughter by herself — and for what? A diagnosis of terminal cancer and she isn’t even fifty.
If you were in her shoes, you might agree that nothing short of national perpetual acknowledgement will do. She’s glad you feel that way; she just wrote a memoir and sent a flurry of query letters, hoping a publisher will memorialize her with a best-seller.
After hitting Send, she waits not-at-all patiently for an editor to decide if her story will sell enough copies — that is, if her life really mattered.’
To purchase Shepherd & The Professor please click on the following link http://amzn.to/1SDhXT9