Up Close With: Debbie Kraus
Meet the wonderful writers and patrons behind LWS.
The queen of the come-back-to-the-room music, this Chicagoan has been hosting the LWS East Coast US writers hours for as long as we can remember. She’s always ready with a smile, a nerdy reference (check out that official profile photo below!), and a cat climbing over her computer. As we kick off a month of meeting LWS’s fabulous volunteer hosts and community managers, we say hello to the one and only Debbie Kraus!
Debbie Kraus (45)
- Based in Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Writes fantasy for YA and upper-middle grade
- Volunteer host of the LWS Eastern US writers hour
What are you working on right now?
An upper-middle grade fantasy novel.
Where and when do you write?
Morning and evening. Generally at my puzzle table that has been transformed into a desk/cat sunning spot.
How do you write?
I love writing by hand but then I’m too lazy to type it up, so… by laptop (Nouveau Precious Tres). My stories tend to start with an idea of a character stuck in a tough spot. I write my first drafts with very little planning and then go through the painful (but rewarding!) process of applying structure and digging down into world building.
Why do you write?
Two things. I was so inspired by certain stories as a kid (or even an adult!). They helped make me into the dreamer I am. The thought (which I hope doesn’t sound arrogant!) of being able to create characters and worlds that do the same thing for others is so powerful and rewarding to me.
The second is about the craft itself: believing that, somewhere out there, is the perfect word for every sentence (whether or not I have the energy to pursue all those perfect words is a different matter!). I think of writing on the sentence level as a puzzle, and I’m always looking for the right piece!
What inspires your creativity?
Movies, books, and television are obvious ones. I’m beyond inspired by the worlds of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. My current novel takes place in space, so the vastness and unknowns of the galaxy continually blow my small, human mind. Since I’m writing for younger people I’m also inspired by thinking about what they struggle with and would find joy in. I’m very conscious of the fact that I’m writing for an audience that is thirty+ years my junior, so hope this makes my work relevant and engaging to them.
What’s your favourite book?
Gah! Just one? “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?
I don’t know if this is advice, per se, but I work in a field where creativity isn’t seen as a core component of our jobs. And I’ve had colleagues comment on the value I bring my having a more creative outlook. So, I love to think that creativity (and creatively minded folks) add value to any and all organisations and situations.
What’s the one thing you would tell other/aspiring writers?
Cut your first draft some slack. Actually, cut it lots and lots of slack!
How can we discover more about you and your work?
I am digitally shy! Just come to ET hour and say hello.