Interview with world famous author Jack Kline

Jack and his dog Quantrill

Okay, okay. He’s not world famous…not yet, anyway. But you should check out this small-town Kansas writer’s book of short stories and essays, Blowing Carbon. You’ll be glad you did. In it, you’ll find a smattering of subject matter, such as:

*Jack’s lifelong struggle with Caulrophobia: fear of clowns

*A Gothic Horror love story set in Johnson County

*A young man’s master plan to woo a hot librarian

*Mary Had a Little Lamb – and revenge

*A painful encounter with racism in 1973

*The disturbing future of the written word

*A tribe’s dangerous journey to a snowy promise land

Plus more…

It was a pleasure to read a combination of stories and essays that induced laughter, fear, sadness, anger, nostalgia, and hope. They appeal to a wide range of ages, male or female. Basically, there’s something for everyone. The characters are easy to relate to and likeable, but with flaws just like any human. Jack is a master of his craft – clever, genuine, and undeniably captivating.

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Jack’s book, Blowing Carbon, you can do so here:

http://www.amazon.com/Blowing-Carbon-Jack-Kline/dp/160653016X

I also encourage you to look for other books written by local authors. There’s probably a small section in a library or bookstore near you that features local work.

I was lucky enough to steal Jack for a few minutes and ask him some heavy questions.

1.    Briefly describe your last encounter with a clown.
“Clowns, and to a much lesser degree, girls, comprised the principle banes of my childhood.  All were evil and all were out to get me, especially the clowns.  Avoiding clowns or minimizing my time in their presence remained a life strategy after I became an adult, even though the fear had subsided.  My most recent encounter with one, actually with a whole bunch of them, was at a circus in Kansas City’s Kemper Area a few years ago.  The experience wasn’t that bad at all.  Mostly the clowns behaved like the three (eleven of them actually) stooges might, only in whiteface, and with big red noses.  They were really quite funny – on the surface anyway.  During these particular clown’s performances I thought I noticed a couple of them stealing furtive glances my way even though I was seated twenty-three rows up.  And that tall one, the one with the swirly orange hair, turned and smiled my way as the show concluded and they ran out of the ring.  His smile wasn’t that friendly at all.”

2. In  Post Literacy  you speak of a future without tangible books, without pencil and paper to write on. The book publishing industry’s future seems bleak with the growth of online publishing – ebooks can be created, uploaded and downloaded by anyone. What is it about holding a real book and writing on real paper that you cherish?
“I worry about two things: losing books in their current form, and also the end of books altogether.

The latter worry first: the number of people who read books dwindles.  There are so many other ways to occupy one’s mind.  Video games, texting, tweeting, facebook, and the internet all gobble up people’s time.  And reading a book requires a significant investment of time.  Will these time grabbers and other similar yet-to-be-developed diversions squeeze out books?  When I began my own blog last year, my blog set-up advisor told me to keep them short. She told me that the average web surfer’s attention span lasts about four minutes.  Not too many four minute books out there.  I fear that when book readers are marginalized, there will be no economic incentive for writers to write them.  We will become a world of four-minute tweeters and facers and bloggers.

Relatively soon I expect books to change in form, and those who love to read them (me) will adapt.  We will buy Kindles or whatever else comes down the pike in order to continue to read “books.”  When I was a kid, my mom often took me to the library and I loved it, and vowed that someday I would own my own full bookshelves.  And I always enjoyed sniffing around bookstores, pulling out books and reading the jackets and admiring the cover artwork.  I love the way a new book smells, and the way an old one does.  When we built a house out in the country, and we met with the architect, I told her there were only two things that I wanted – a deep bathtub, and a library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves so that I could free my old friends from their basement cardboard box tombs.  Now I can walk into my library and see my books and each one carries a memory of the read.  I can even pull them out and sniff them.  I have books that were my parents and grandparents and a handful from my great-grandparents.  With an e-reader these joys will be replicated by powering up one’s device, browsing a web site for new titles, downloading, and then by opening the desired folder and scrolling down the list of titles.  And anytime or anywhere I want, I can hold my thin plastic rectangle up close and sniff it.  Ah, I love the smell of plastic in the morning.”

3. What author would you most like to meet and talk with in person, both dead and alive?
“Alive?  Stephen King hands down.  I have read nearly everything he has written, including the stinkers (more than few, as many books as he has written).  But when he nails one he hits it out of the park.  Most King poo-pooers think he is just a horror writer.  Stephen King is a literary, sometimes harsh and sometimes smooth as Makers Mark, author who writes of the human condition with impressive depth and knowledge.  He happens to use horror as his primary, but not sole, medium.  Through horror he puts people under extreme pressure and shows what makes them tick, how some exhibit the characteristics we all hope that we possess and how some of them crash and burn.

I would remind those who think he is a one-trick horror pony that King wrote the stories that the movies Stand by Me, Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile were based on.  And King knows kids and remembers what it was like to be one.  When he writes about them he is at his best.  I like to write about kids and teenagers too.  I think Stephen King is a regular guy, and not so full of himself that he wouldn’t enjoy a beer and a chat.  And King loves baseball.  If the conversation lags, we have our mutual love of baseball in common.  Distant second: Janet Evanovich or John Irving.

Dead?  Mark Twain.  He was one funny guy.  And he wrote a novel on the evils of racism when that simply wasn’t done, and made it palatable to a wide range of readers, racists included.  I’ve read much of his work.  I admire his biting, often hilarious sarcasm and I think that it would be a hoot to sit down with him and shoot the shit.  Second Place: Kurt Vonnegut.  Third: Bill Shakespeare.”

4. Vampires are so hot right now. Did you catch the fever, too?
“I did not catch the fever, but merely a minor vampire cold.  I read Octavia Butler’s Fledgling about all-white vampires who’ve been around for thousands of years and one is born black and can stay up during the day and go out in the sun for brief periods.  One group wants to breed her.  And of course the racist vampires want her dead.  Butler also wrote one of the best short stories I’ve ever read “Bloodchild” which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for sci-fi writing.  I read Twilight but not the sequels, though I did watch the movies on video – pretty good stuff.  I love TrueBlood but don’t have HBO so I’m not a regular Blood watcher.  And both of my thumbs are up for 30 Days of Night. I did, however, contract an acute case of Zombie fever and I fear I’m still contagious.”

5. Paparazzi catch you doing something embarrassing. What would that be, most likely?
“Well, the “print” paparazzi would embarrass me very much by asking this question and convincing me to answer it truthfully.
“Photo”paparazzi would have had a field day following me around in the past.  Most embarrassing were the stunts and feats of derring-do that I performed or attempted to perform under the influence of alcohol and other substances.  And I could go on and on about the many embarrassing rugby after-party moments during my playing days.  Some of my feats are legendary in my old circle of neer-do-wells.  I suppose that I might have qualified for a full half-hour in a Jackass movie, the results of which found me in at least a handful of different emergency rooms.  Nowadays paparazzi would quickly get bored trying to follow me around.  About the best photo-op they could come up with would be the ample opportunities to click me taking a piss outside.  There’s just something intrinsically macho and liberating about whipping it out and taking a piss in the great outdoors.  That’s a big perk of being a male and living out in the country.”

Jack (on left) in his rugby days

And…for the finale, here is Jack’s website and blog:

http://jackkline.squarespace.com/about-jack/

 

Remember your local authors! They need love, too.

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14 thoughts on “Interview with world famous author Jack Kline

  1. Your clown question immediately cracked me up, especially starting with that. Sounds like a cool guy. I’ll have to check out his work. By the way, his dog, Quantrill… do you know who that is? William Quantrill was the crazy bastard who lead the raid on Lawrence during the Civil War. That’s hilarious that he named his dog that, being from Kansas. I’m guessing it’s a joke of some sort. My last band was briefly named Quantrill until we decided we’d probably never get to play in Lawrence.

  2. Love the piece, Lauren. We unfamous, World Famous Authors like all of the pub we can get. I enjoy your blog and I’m glad you began writing where we all can see it. Someday all of us will be saying that we knew you way back when.

    Yes, Dan, my dog Quantrill’s naming was an inside joke. I’m a Kansas guy and know what a rat bastard William Quantrill was. Probably an MU grad.

  3. I must lend my support to Lauren and urge anyone who enjoys a good tale to delve into “Blowing Carbon.” You will be entertained and delighted.

  4. Z – the country is delightful – a great place for a writer to live. 🙂

    DT – Yes, Jack is very special. The book is well worth it. And no, I had no idea where Quantrill came from but thank you for enlightening me! That’s very clever, and what a coincidence about your old band.

    Jackson – Thanks – I hope I did you justice. You’ve been an inspiration to me as well as a friend and mentor.

    PDawg – Thanks for the support, Dawg.

  5. You have real journalism in your veins. Great questions followed by very entertaining answers. I was thrilled to find Jack’s blog still running and his book still there. This was fate, I’m sure. I’m a convert. 😀

    • Aww thanks! I always enjoyed the Q&A format but otherwise I don’t enjoy writing articles too much. I wish I knew what Jack was up to these days. Been a while since we spoke. I hope he’s still writing. ❤

      • Hi Lauren, Jack’s book, Blowin Carbon showed up today. I’m all set for the weekend now. Thank you for the recommendation five years ago. The best I can tell on his blog, March 2015 was his last post. I didn’t look everywhere, though.

      • I have it from a reliable source that Jack is alive and well, and still afraid of clowns. He can be a bit of a slacker, thus the lack of recent blog posts. Jack has a novel shopped by an agent in New York titled “But Not for Me.” He already has a dozen or so rejections from the big New York publishing houses, including a very complimentary one from Dell–Delacourt. It’s a noir story about a scuffling detective in KC in 1934 who gets a big missing persons case. Jack says he’s about a year away from giving up and self-publishing.

        He currently writes a collaborative novel with writer Priscilla Myers of Phoenix about a high school reunion. Writing a novel with someone a thousand miles away poses interesting challenges.

        Since Lauren’s interview, Jack . . . aw shit . . . I’ll quit using third person. Since Lauren’s interview I’ve had a number of short stories published, including one for “Chicken Soup for the Soul”, and two in the United Kingdom. One of them, “Christmas with the Pack,” was singled out for praise by “Craic Magazine”, a magazine about entertainment in the UK.

        Maybe I ought to dust off the old blogging pen.

        Thanks for your interest, Hyperion. I hope you enjoy the book.

        Jack

      • You da Man, Jack! Great to hear from you. I’m glad you are still thrilling the masses with your writing. You’ll be Stephen King’s hero before you’re done. I do enjoy your writing and look forward to hunting down more. Lauren is an awesome to the max Dragon Sister, Draculauren and when I ran across this post about your book, I had it on order before the dust on my laptop settled. Lauren is a very smart girl and I always do what she tells me. That’s why I have no regrets. 🙂

    • If it’s the same noir story you had sent me bits and pieces of way back when, I’m glad you’re still working on it. Love that stuff. Happy to hear from you, Jack – doesn’t matter what point of view, I’ll take it all. 🙂 Sounds like you’ve been extremely productive. Hard work pays off so congrats on your successes! And many more to come. As Sylvia Plath said, “I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

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