Kent Krueger’s in my Neighborhood

It was an ideal Saturday afternoon down here in SW Florida and a special day for me as well. Fort Myers was hosting their annual Reader’s Convention at the local library. The event was huge as many well-known authors had been invited. I noticed in the local paper that my old friend, Kent Krueger was among those authors so I emailed him to see if his schedule there had any gaps so we could get together and have a cup of coffee. He responded the next day. I met Kent right after arriving and we visited briefly as he was going on stage in a few minutes then signing books afterward.
Kent was promoting his latest novel, ‘This Tender Land’, which has been on the NYTimes best-seller list for weeks. His presentation was remarkable. Insightful at times, humorous at times, and compelling in every way. If you’ve met him, you know he’s a genuinely nice man as well as a gifted writer. I’ve always known that we have much in common in terms of story themes: he has his Cork O’Conner series, I have Father Mickey, we are both spiritually inspired, respectful of indigenous cultures (Ojibwa), and set our stories in the North Country. One big difference, however, is that he’s a huge success and I’m not. We talked about that and many other things. I told him that I didn’t aspire to become an international success. I’ve looked at his schedule and see how much travel he is required to do. (He was in Miami the day before and will be in San Diego next Saturday). I’m perfectly content to have a regional readership that requires little travel and few events. He’s mentioned that some of his readers have told him that they find similarities in our works. Ironically one thing I was most surprised to learn was that he taught cultural anthropology years ago — just as I had.
Kent’s latest work is titled ‘This Tender Land’. I’ve read it and recommend it highly. It’s a stand-alone novel with Minnesota roots. I must add, his presentation tent was jammed overcapacity (I guessed about 800 or more people) and the line for his book-signing was two blocks long.
We had lunch and talked about writing for an hour or so before Kent had to do a second signing. We parted with wishes for continued success. His publisher has him under contract for two more novels and he has one soon to be released. I, on the other hand, have no contracts, no deadlines, no presentations on my schedule, However, like Kent, I woke up this morning and worked on my next novel for three hours. Mine is not going smoothly and I’ll have to do two more rewrites before heading home. I fear a couple 6 hour days lie ahead as I hope to head north at the end of next month. Anyhow it’s too hot outside. I don’t know how to post a picture on my website so I’ll post a picture of Kent and I on Facebook.