Interview with Zach Kraft, author of Counting the Ones We Kill

01 Aug 2018

What can you tell us about your new release, Counting the Ones We Kill?

In the near future, the world’s been conquered in a bloodless invasion. The all-powerful and enigmatic invader, floating in vast ships at the edge of orbit, has never said a word to the masses. It speaks only through Election–the inexplicable and relentless abduction of young and old, rich and poor.

Against this backdrop a young girl is found murdered on the territory of the human agency that oversees Elections. Fearing reprisals, nobody has the courage to investigate—nobody but Private Detective Alan Riker, whose past indiscretions have left him with little to lose. He soon finds that to solve the crime, he’ll have to confront the ugliest parts of a despairing world. Counting is the first in a series of novels. Including Counting, four of these novels have been published to date. All are available on Amazon. Two more, to be released by 2019, will complete the series.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

Compulsion, mostly. Writing a novel is one of the most foolish things a person can do. It’s kind of like spending a few hundred hours for the honor of buying an expensive lottery ticket that has virtually no chance of paying off, and when it does it nearly always pays off meekly. And yet we do it anyway, because when it’s going well, it’s one of the most fun things in the world.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

True Grit by Charles Portis. A book written by a young man using the voice of an elderly spinster recalling her days as a whip-smart firecracker. I’ve never seen so much delightful richness in the telling of a story.

Darker than Amber by John D. MacDonald. No thriller writer beats MacDonald on comprehension of the world and the people who inhabit it. And his musings on Florida and its money-obsessed degradation are as cutting today as they were in back in his day (1960s and 70s). But as often than not, when I read him I get depressed. He sets a standard that is all but impossible to match.

Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian. Any installment of this series belongs among my favorite books. Patrick O’Brian is unequaled in his ability to transport the reader through time. He writes with unqualified authority on life and death in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, and he does so with an understanding of human psychology that rivals the finest novelists of any era.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The best book on vain ambition I’ve ever read. And I’ve spent plenty of time on vain ambition. The last two paragraphs alone are nearly enough to earn placement on my list.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. What can I say? The ludicrous prejudices of our world as seen through the eyes of an unforgettable girl. It may be the best American novel of the late 20th century.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

First thing I would do is surreptitiously disable all of the transmitting equipment in the studio. Then I would send all the support people home, without pay. Then I would bring in James Patterson, and as I pretended to interview him for the masses, I would privately interrogate him on how to survive in this racket.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

For me, the inspiration for a book typically comes with a concept for a few thrilling scenes. Often enough these scenes appear at the climax of the story, but not always. In all events, writing this stuff is the most fun part of the job.

What is a typical day like for you?

My days are spent in the attempt to conquer procrastination and distraction. I’d say my record is fair at best. I’m fortunate to work from home and to have a great deal of flexibility in how I fill my schedule. I try to fill as much of that schedule with writing as I can.

What scene in Counting the Ones We Kill was your favorite to write?

I enjoyed a particular moment of realization that takes place toward the end–one that I can’t disclose for fear of spoilers. Suffice it to say, nothing is more satisfying than the shock of a character.

Do you have a motto, quote or philosophy you live by?

I believe it was Hedy Lamarr who said something to the effect of, “if something isn’t working—change it.” Such a simple instruction. I wish I followed it more often. Not that I should necessarily look to celebrities for guidance on the life well lived…

Zach Kraft is the author of the new book Counting the Ones We Kill

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