Saturday, December 10, 2011

NaNoWriMo Wrap-up: Interview with Mike Kroll

This is the second of four interviews we conducted with 2011 NaNoWriMo winners.

Hi Mike. Why don't you start off by telling us what your idea of great literary fiction is:

Great literary fiction, in my opinion, is a work that tells both a story, as well as draws the reader into a way of thinking that enlightens their own lives. Some fantastic examples of this would be Scarlett Thomas' The End of Mr. Y. It incorporates both quantum physics, classic literature, and the power of the mind into an original and engaging plot.
Why do/did you choose that “genre?”

I wanted to incorporate my psychology degree and still entertain the reader. The only way I found that to be possible was to choose a more vague and open-ended genre such as literary fiction. The others seemed a bit to constricted in their cultural standards that I felt some of the message of my story would get lost in translation.

What, if anything, have you written prior to this?

Before NaNo, and still going to this day, I write a comedy blog that holds the material I use when I perform stand-up. Aside from that, I mainly stick to short stories or research papers on psychology.

Do you see yourself influenced by any particular author or authors?

Scarlett Thomas for sure has influenced my writing style as of late. Her dry approach to the real world really struck me. I have also been reading a lot of Gregory Maguire and his Wicked Years series.

Why did you decide to take part in NaNoWriMo this year?

I had heard of NaNo a year or so prior to me entering. However, I made the decision to enter four days before the event actually began. It was really a spur of the moment decision!

How did it go?

Oddly enough, I felt that I gained a lot of insight into myself as well as to discovering my own style of writing during the "competition". Despite having a full-time job I found it quite easy to write, and if anything, almost pressured to do so. I loved it!

Any advice or warnings for people who may want to jump in next year?

I could tell people to not edit and to just write, regardless of what they're spewing onto the screen/page/sand/etc. However, my advice is quite the opposite: Don't be afraid to edit your work as you go along. I re-wrote paragraphs, checked grammar, the whole nine yards, and found it to be a great time the whole way through. What I would advise against is editing before you reach your daily goal for yourself. If you have time at the end of the day, and feel up to it, re-read what you wrote and change it to your liking. If you feel the need to delete something, replace it with the same number of words that you took out. That way, you're happier with your work, and your word count won't suffer in the process.

So, you “won” NaNoWriMo, because you met the specified threshold and hammered out over 50,000 words during the month. But most novels run in the range of 90,000 words or so. Do you feel you truly finished your novel and brought the story to a close?

My story is far from over. My novel Pensive is the first in at least two or three books I now plan to write regarding the larger schools of psychological thought. I wouldn't be doing myself, my science, and hopefully (if I have any), my readers, any justice if I stopped what is obviously nowhere near done.

Tell us a little bit about the book, “jacket-copy style”:

A dystopian collection of civilizations countries are divided up, most by physical barriers, by the varying schools of psychological thought. The citizens in each country act and live within the confines of their own particular school and shun the world beyond their own borders. Evelyn, a nun from a Jungian founded city sets out on a sabbatical through the country to try and define the "Influence" that supposedly founded these schools, and tries to better understand why they exist, and even more so, why they are disconnected to begin with.

What are your plans for the novel now (stick it in a drawer? on-going editing? submitting to agents? self-publishing? etc.?)

I plan to let the novel, as well as myself, rest for a couple of weeks. That way we both have some time to breathe and regroup. Once I feel that I have recovered from the intensity of NaNo, I will pick up my work and begin fine-tuning and adding some more details to it. Further down the line, perhaps in a year or so, I would like to entertain the idea of finding an agent and perhaps trying to get Pensive and the subsequent works following it published. Until then though, it'll be my little project on the side when I feel work is getting a bit to tedious to my liking. Writing isn't worth it if it's not enjoyable.

Would you do it again? Why or why not?

I plan to do NaNo again in 2012 if it's still running. Actually, even if it isn't officially sponsored by OLL, I will begin writing the second in my series. The contest taught me a lot about determination and goal setting. I can't just walk away from something that mammoth and not attempt it again. It was a great experience for my mind, body, as well as my soul. I'd be lying if I didn't give OLL and NaNo credit for giving me that adrenaline boost my creative juices needed.

Where, if anywhere, can people go to learn more about you and your writing?

I encourage people who want a laugh, while not at work, to visit my comedy blog:

If they are curious about Pensive then they will have to wait until I set up another blog that will center around the series. However, that will only be established if I get some requests. If not, then the project will continue off-line.

I welcome all questions regarding myself and the work and hope that people are brave enough to ask any of them. If they want they are more than welcome to e-mail me at:

I am also on twitter: @iymcool

Well, thanks for stopping by. We wish you all the best.

Thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts and for the honor of being chosen for an interview.

Best of luck, and see y'all in NaNo 2012 (or sooner)!

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