Recently, I had the pleasure of an interview with a Pittsburgh based newspaper, the Tribune-Review, and reporter JoAnne Harrop. Below is the interview in its entirety:
J.D. Kellner, 34, is a Kittanning native who lives in Lower Burrell, has written five books, but this is his first published novel. The book, “The Cranes of Blackwell,” will officially be released Oct. 9.
In the novel, Kellner tells the story of husband and wife, Bergden and Alyssa Crane, who live in the city of Blackwell, which is under the rule of the Regime, what he calls, “the authoritative oligarchy.” In Collins’ book, the Capitol is the ruling government.
“It was the peak of the ‘Hunger Games,’” Kellner said. “The last ‘Hunger Games’ movie was out, and I was feeling a little dystopian. So I put pen to paper and wrote about a fictional world. This is not how I feel about living in the U.S.
“If a book like the ‘Hunger Games’ can do well then this book can also,” said Kellner, a compliance officer for a health care consulting company. “That is the competitive drive in me.” Kellner enlisted the help of beta readers, who provided feedback on his manuscript. “You listen to them, and then you fine-tune the book,” he said.
Kellner has no formal writing training. He said he gained more insight into writing by reading works from his favorite authors Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. It took him two years to write the book and two additional years to get it published. He has written five books, but this is his first published novel.
“You’ve got to practice to succeed and those unpublished works are my practice,” he said. “My advice is that writing isn’t a sprint. There will be many drafts to get your writing to where you want it to be. Writing is an art form and with most art, it takes time and dedication to get better.”
It took several attempts to find a publisher but he found Kyanite Publishing in Fort Collins, Colo., which is also is interested in a sequel. Kyanite specializes in speculative fiction, a genre speculating about worlds that are unlike the real world in various important ways, according to goodreads.com.
The publisher describes Kellner’s 302-page book as “Family drama meets political thriller in an action-packed roller-coaster ride any reader today may find startlingly relevant.”
Kellner describes Bergden Crane as a trustworthy and loyal individual who is stuck in a bad situation. He knows what he is doing is wrong and needs to make a change.
Alyssa Crane is a homemaker and school teacher. She is very maternal and gains inner strength.
She is the heroine. She does things her instincts tell her to do without thinking about the consequences.
Here’s an excerpt: “Bergden Crane tried to focus on his book as he heard them taking the neighbors away. Their cries muffled, their arms and legs bound as they struggled against their abductors. He knew them only as acquaintances. A family of four, the husband, the wife, and two sons all whisked away in the dead of night under the moonlit sky.
Under the rule of the Regime in the city of Blackwell, such moments had become commonplace and a facet of daily living for its people.”
Bergden and his wife and their son become separated and fight to be together once again. Alyssa Crane endures physical pain and fear that her husband might have been killed and that she may never see her son again.
“I hope it reads well so that everyone stays engaged page to page,” Kellner said. “And I don’t want to give away the ending, but I like when stories end happy.”
Kellner has a very happy story. He wrote the book at night and on weekends. He dedicated it to his wife, Eden, their sons, Hudson, 4, and Jude, 1, and other family members and friends.
“I’ve had amazing support from everyone,” he said. “They helped me make my dream come true.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .