An interview with author DT Krippene . . .

D.T. Krippene

A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT is a member of the Bethlehem Writers Group and Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. He writes apocalyptic science fiction, paranormal, and parallel universe science fantasy. DT has published several short stories. “Hell of a Deal,” in the paranormal collection, Untethered, and most recently, “Man’s Best Friend,” in the 2021 Best Indie Book for Fiction, Fur, Feathers, and Scales. He also appeared in the Write Here – Write Now short story collection with his middle-grade paranormal, “Locker 33C.” He’s been a featured author in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable magazine, and his latest Roundtable story, “Hot as Sin,” appeared in the 2021 summer issue. You can find DT on his website, Searching for Light in the Darkness, and his social media links on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Interview by BWG member Dianna Sinovic

Bethlehem Writers Group: How did you get your start writing fiction?

DT Krippene: I’ve always dabbled in writing, but never seriously until an adult. My first attempt at fiction was a high school creative writing class. Several handwritten pages heavy with romantic elements with a girl named Cleo, the teacher gave me an A+ and drew hearts and a violin in her notes. Man, did I get a serious ribbing for it. Who’d have thought a six-foot awkward geek with thick-rimmed glasses, ninety-pounds dripping wet and volcanic zits could write romance?

I never mastered the old-fashioned typewriter (I got a D in high school typing class), and went through college wasting reams of erasable bond paper.  It wasn’t until word processor arrived when I finally grasped a keyboard that offered a backspace key and delete button. Now I can type almost as fast as I think, with minor speed bumps due to a hyperactive imagination going off on tangents. 

My fiction journey started when my oldest daughter turned twelve. At the seemingly tender age of eleven, she was never one for “Sweetwater Twins” and such. Her favorite authors at the time were Tamora Pierce, Anne McCaffery, and books featuring strong, subversive feminist characters (she confessed years later to reading my copy of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander). I had to create something she’d like. What started as a novella, ended up as a three-hundred-page epic journey of a shy girl thrown into an alternate world where she learned to be a badass to survive. I took my daughter to a restaurant like an adult and presented, Storm Portal, hard-bound with gold lettering. Despite its numerous grammatical errors, the excitement on her face before and after she read it was beyond priceless. From that point on, the passion to write had firmly taken root. 

To date, I’ve penned six book drafts in the paranormal, apocalyptic, fantasy and science fiction genres, all with romantic elements (blame my friends in the RWA). 

BWG: Did your background as a biologist drive you toward science fiction as a genre for your fiction? Or did you grow up reading this genre and so it seemed natural to write in it?

DTK: As a middle child of seven, I devoured mysteries, adventure, and science fiction at a young age. I remember Helen Fuller Orton’s mysteries as my first series. Reading was my safe place – that and the early nineteenth-century library where I grew up. When I read Heinlein’s Tunnel in the Sky, my first foray into sci-fi (think I was 9 or 10 years old), I was hooked. I dare say it likely influenced a desire to get into science. 

I’m not a huge fan of space operas anymore, though they’re fun to watch. Too many books out there with captains on the bridge, galactic boundary wars, physics that defy the principles of Einstein and Hawking, and otherworldly beings who remarkably resemble humanoids in worlds similar to Earth. And what’s with enemy aliens that possess advanced technology who look and grunt like barely sentient alligators?

BWG: Who were your favorite writers/influencers as you started out writing?

DTK: Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, and Herbert were staples in my younger years. If you didn’t mind a long intro to Earth’s geologic formation, James Michener’s novels brought history alive with credible fictional characters. James Clavell instilled a sense of historical adventure and a longing to experience Asia. I read my first Stephen King novel as a Peace Corp Volunteer in the Philippines, and I’m still a fan today (The Stand is my favorite). King’s Gunslinger series, and Dean Koontz’s Lightning introduced me to the fun genre of alternate worlds. Michael Crichton’s Andromeda Strain influenced an interest in life sciences. Carl Sagan’s Contact impressed a sense of scientific realism about potential alien life. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale offered a chilling window to dystopian autocracy, as did S.M. Stirlings Dies the Fire series. Clive Barker’s Weaveworld schooled me in the art of weird.

Tolkien introduced me to epic fantasy, and I’ve reread the series several times (it was my go-to version of War and Peace). I read all of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, and Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series (though like many multivolume series, everything after book five became overly verbose with too many side stories). 

My oldest daughter got me into her favorite young adult titles from Tamora Pierce, Garth Nix, Ann McCaffrey, Laini Taylor, Neil Gaiman, Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, Jeff Wheeler’s Muirwood series, to name a few.  It gave me a perspective into the type of characters I wanted as a protagonist. 

BWG: Who are you reading now?

DTK: I finished Dean Koontz’s Elsewhere a couple weeks ago (excellent alternate timeline premise), and an Amazon suggested sci-fi indie, The Crying of Ross 18 (fast paced, but overly generic). I read a classic by Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars, last month, and might start book two, Green Mars. Robinson’s Aurora is one of my top ten favorites. Ken Follet’s The Evening and the Morning is waiting in the wings.

BWG: Which fiction format do you feel more comfortable in – short story or novel and why?

DTK: I’ve mostly drawn to novels, which gives me ample space to weave a tale and flesh out characters. That said, most of my first drafts clock over 100,000 words because I’m susceptible to taking side stories. I wrote about this affliction in a blog three years ago, “The Perils of Captain Tangent, a Pantser’s Writing Journey in Pictures.”

My venture into short stories didn’t happen until I joined a Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, and the Bethlehem Writers Group. I have three short stories in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable magazine, and published in three anthologies. It has helped me understand the merits of choosing words with care. 

BWG: Have your wide-ranging travels influenced your fiction? “Hot as Sin,” for instance, is set in Singapore, where you lived for a period.

DTK: Not until recently. In the current apocalyptic dystopian novel I’m redrafting, Extinction’s Light, the protagonist’s love interest is from Australia, a place we frequented on vacation during the Asia years. “Hot as Sin” is an offshoot from “Hell of a Deal,” a short story in the anthology Untethered – Sweet, Funny, & Strange Tales of the Paranormal.  My knowledge of Singapore offered a great story background with a global perspective.

BWG: Has your most recent move, to Nevada, flavored your story ideas?

DTK: I’m an eastern deciduous tree person by nature, and I’m still adjusting to desert climes in triple digits, airborne dust, and Californians. If anything, the move has robbed me of both writing and reading time. Chock full of unique surroundings and “colorful” personalities, I’m sure it has great potential as a story background, but I have to gain a sense of the place first.

BWG: Tell us about your current novel project. Where did the idea come from and what point do you hope to get across?

DTK: I’ve always been fascinated with apocalyptic events that could erase humankind. Stephen King’s The Stand, PD James’ The Children of Men, and David Brin’s The Postman are three of my favorite apocalyptic stories.

Ryan Townsend is believed to be the youngest person in North America, possibly the world. Born two years after a genetic anomaly wipes out ninety-eight percent of humanity, and the few who survived rendered unable to procreate, he should have never been born. 

Ryan’s childhood spent inside an autocratic government research center with his mother who can’t remember how she conceived him, scientists fail to find answers that might save humankind from extinction. They both are released to a quiet existence in a closely guarded township managed by the Sanctuary of Light, the only spiritual faith sanctioned by the Directorate.

The government continues to track his every move through an implanted monitoring device. Rumors drift from other sanctioned townships with suspicions he might be connected to a dark evil that spawned the plague. Though grateful for the Sanctuary’s nurturing support for he and his mother, Ryan is skeptical of their intentions, wondering what the point is if humans have taken the off ramp to extinction. All he really wants is to follow in the footsteps of a trusted crotchety park ranger, be independent, make his own decisions, and live out his days away from others in the peace of recovering woodlands.

Nearly kidnapped by a notorious gang from the unprotected expanses, seventeen-year-old Ryan is relocated to an unmapped township run by an elderly cofounder of the faith where a potential arranged partnership with a girl eight years his senior awaits. When a ranger friend of his former woodland mentor helps Ryan to adjust, misgivings about the township and its aged spiritual leader develop.

Alone in a blizzardy night at a cabin near township borders, a young woman traveling from Australia in a tricked-our ATV runs out of power near his doorstep. Revealing nothing of her destination, and no stranger to survival while traversing the unprotected expanse, Ryan succumbs to Penny McGuire’s willful charms, and is heartsick when she leaves.

Trapped between blurred lines that separate faith and governance and those who would own him, Ryan has a chance encounter with Penny, followed by the death of his new ranger friend. Ryan’s capture by the notorious Carterite gang leads to a desperate chase to discover who he really is, and what it means to the fate of humanity.

BWG: Your writing is often infused with a wonderful sense of humor. Is that a conscious effort or does it just bubble up on its own?

DTK: The first half of my business career included writing banal tech manuals, operations procedures, lengthy market analysis, and I published a couple articles for industry magazines. I’m yawning just saying it.

I began a two-page annual holiday letter for family and friends in the early nineties with a vow not to write the usual “epistle” of boring aren’t-we-great tidbits that nobody could relate. The format consisted of catchy title, lots of humor, then end on a poignant note. Twenty-five years since the first submission, I still have over a hundred recipients. After a few years of tongue paper cuts and illegible address writing, I graduated to Adobe print labels and self-sealing envelopes. Might make a good book collection someday.

During my residence in Singapore and Taiwan between 1997 and 2008, I wrote for an expat magazine, “Singapore American Newspaper,” with occasional articles of life as a westerner in Asia, followed by a four-year monthly column page with “Centered on Taiwan.” All articles followed the same format as a standard format with catchy title and lots of humor to describe life as a clueless American in Asia. It honed my skill at finding humor in the most unlikely places and also might make a good collection.

BWG: Tell us about the theme of your website, Searching for Light in the Darkness. Is that your phrase? If not, whose is it? How does it relate to the writing you do?

DTK: Social media for writers is a mysterious realm of branding, message, and exposure required for discoverability that seems to change annually. Took me months of research years ago to figure it out. I knew a custom website was not for me, and chose WordPress ten years ago mainly for blogging and its simplicity for a newbie. I interpreted the concept of theme as a subtle message of the kind of stories I write. I settled on Searching for Light in the Darkness to reflect my protagonist’s journey from a dark place to one of light.  Might be cheesy, but the three books I’m working on instill the concept in the title: Extinction’s Light, Gravity of Light, and the Light of Darmon.

I had the amazing luck to receive permission to use photographer Lori Nix’s diorama, The Library, from her collection, The City – “an imagined city of our future, where something either natural or as the result of mankind, has emptied the city of its human inhabitants. The walls are deteriorating, the ceilings are falling in, the structures barely stand, yet Mother Nature is slowly taking them over. Insects, Flora, and fauna fill dilapidated spaces, reclaiming what was theirs before man’s encroachment.”

To me, the graphic represents life arising against the odds from a dark place to reach the light. You can read about Lori Nix through links above.

BWG: Hah! Thanks for the interview, DT. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you.

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