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Between Two Lockers with Daniel Kraus

An interview with Daniel Kraus, author of Rotters.

Between Two Lockers with Daniel Kraus

Yo ladies (and Brian, and Anthony, and David)! Welcome to another segment of our Between Two Lockers series, where we ask our favorite authors the kind of really hard-hitting questions you've come to expect from us.

This week, we've got Daniel Kraus, author of The Monster Variations and Rotters, as well as a maker of film and dweller of Chicago. Daniel was not only gracious enough to answer our questions, he also included a video that has some scenes from some of the films he made in high school! So polish up your BFF charms, because after reading this, you'll queueing up to hand one over!



The detail you went into when describing the grave robbing made it feel SO realistic. Did you study grave digging histories, or make it all up? ARE you a grave robber? (And also, can I just say for the entire female population who loved your book? GROSS, dude.)

I did oodles of research on burial rituals and body decomposition. I am not a grave robber. I am shocked by your implication. This interview is over.

Nervous laughter...

Joey's high school experience is almost more grotesque than his night job. Do you feel like it was a realistic portrayal? Was it based on any experiences you or someone you know lived?

None of the major events in the book happened to me. But yes, it is realistic. When I was growing up in Iowa, I saw a lot worse than this, and on a fairly regular basis -- and I don't think kids are getting much nicer. High school is a tough place. A lot of the parents and teachers -- and even some of the luckier kids -- have no idea.

Maybe my being home-schooled wasn't so bad after all...

I loved the stories about what the diggers found in some tombs. If you could rob any tomb in the world, which one would you choose?

I'd love to be one of the first people to enter a newly discovered Egyptian tomb. That would be very cool. Of course, I'm sure then I'd be cursed for the rest of my miserable life, which is not cool at all.

Exactly. I've seen The Mummy. That is bad news.


If your real life adolescence was a YA book...What would you, the main character, be like?

I'm short. I'm the shortest guy in my class until high school, when I suddenly shoot up to six feet. I'm smart, and kind of cute -- though I need to do something about that hairdo -- but extremely anxious, which isn't doing me any favors. Later in high school, though, I'll be confident -- over-confident, in fact -- but that's okay because I'll be having a grand old time, which would've seemed impossible just a few years before.

Who is your secret crush?

I'm going to go with Jessica Lange, circa King Kong:

A link to this photo was provided by Daniel. 

What is your number #1 source of angst?

The pervading sensation that I am disappointing someone, somehow, somewhere.

Oh, geez. I know how you feel.

At what point would the reader pump his/her fist in victory?

I have no idea. Maybe 17 years later, when all those terrible movies I made in high school suddenly seemed kind of cool?

You can watch more shenanigans here.

And who would play you in the film adaptation?

These questions are too hard. I'm just going to say Gene Hackman. Because one time I had a dog named Gene Hackman.

Good dog name. Also, I'd like to see Gene Hackman playing a teenager.


What is your secret power?

Uncanny ability to concentrate. I am known as Concentrator.

I think you should get your own movie.

What is your #1 favorite food?

Homemade chicken soup with lots of pepper.

Oh my god, I'll have you know I've been craving this since I first read your answer! Thanks.

Tell me about your area of expertise.

Well, if you're robbing a grave, I'm probably a good guy to have tag along.

True... I'll keep that in mind...

If you could assemble your own Ocean's 11 of fictional characters, who would you pick and why?

•  Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451. He's our leader.

•  Jack from Lord of the Flies. You never know when you may need a guy like Jack.

•  The unnammed narrator from Joseph Heller's Something Happened. Somebody has to do our paperwork.

•  The interviewees of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. A few of us are probably going to die, so why not these fellas?

•  Selena Cross from Peyton Place. She's tough.

•  Scarlett O'Hara, Gone with the Wind. She's even tougher.

•  Lazarus Long from Heinlein's Time Enough for Love. He's immortal!

•  The Judge from Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. He's crazy.

•  The Shrike from Dan Simmons' Hyperion. Even crazier.

•  And a couple of those industrious rabbits from Watership Down.

Okay, that is one Ocean's 11 I would NOT want to cross.

What is your best karaoke song?

Karoake is the devil's music.

Tell me something scandalous!

I've stolen tableware from restaurants twice.

Was it like, this one set you really liked, and then years later, you saw another set that EXACTLY matched the first one, so you just had to have it? Not that I have any first-hand experience, or anything.

What is your favorite adult beverage?

A Manhattan, but made real weird.

Um, recipe, please? You can't tease us like that!

What book have you read the most number of times?

Not sure. Either Lord of the Flies or Joseph P. DeSario's Sanctuary.

Who is your "freebie"?

I had to Google this to even see what you were talking about. So I guess I don't have one.

YA authors are so cool. Who would you give a BFF charm to?

Probably the all-around funnest YA author I've ever met is Lauren Myracle. So I guess I'd give her a BFF charm, and then one day instead of eating lunch with her, I'd sit with the cool kids, and then she'd be mad at me, and then we wouldn't talk for a while, but then that summer we'd run into each other at the beach and kind of kick the sand and act tough and it would be awkward but neither of us would say anything mean this time, and so the next time we saw each other she'd ask me if we wanted to go get hot dogs, and so then we would, and then we would become BFFs again and swear to never do this to each other again, which of course we would.

I would like to read a book of this. Or watch a movie of it, but only if you play yourselves.

Out of all of the characters you've written, which one do you most wish you could be?

There's an old man named Lionel in Rotters who holds nothing back, freely gives away his kindness, and owns up to his mistakes. That's a kind of confidence that may only come with old age, so maybe I'll get there eventually.

LOVED Lionel. May you attain that goal someday.

If you were invited to the FYA slumber party (and obvs, you ARE), what is the most crucial snack food and/or movie you'd bring?

I'd bring a DVD of Hellraiser 2 so we could all barf at the maggot scene.

You are so gross! I mean that in the nicest way possible, of course.

When asked if he'd like to play MASH, here was his reply:

Not only do I not understand this game, but for national security reasons I am forbidden to give away details of my spouse, income, and vehicle. However, I can tell you that I have a very cute puppy named Rudy. See here:

Does that count?

Oh my god, RUDY!!!! Er, yes. Yes it does.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule to hang out with us, Daniel! We'll, er, keep a copy of Hellraiser 2 handy for when you're next in Austin.

Jenny Bird's photo About the Author: Jenny grew up on a steady diet of Piers Anthony, Isaac Asimov and Star Wars novels. She has now expanded her tastes to include television, movies, and YA fiction.