The Debutante Ball Welcomes another debut author, Keith Cronin

Headshot of author Keith CroninAuthor of the novel ME AGAIN, published in September 2011 by Five Star/Gale, Keith Cronin is a corporate speechwriter and professional rock drummer who has performed and recorded with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Pat Travers. Keith’s fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, Amarillo Bay, The Scruffy Dog Review, Zinos, and a University of Phoenix management course, and he is a regular contributor at the literary blog Writer Unboxed. He is also becoming informally known as “the title guy,” having provided the title for Sara Gruen’s blockbuster Water for Elephants, as well as Susan Henderson’s HarperCollins debut Up from the Blue. A native of South Florida, Keith spends his free time serenading local ducks and squirrels with his ukulele.

ME AGAIN is the story of two young stroke victims who meet in a hospital – a man who’s lost his memory, and a housewife whose personality has been radically changed, making her a stranger to her husband. Ultimately the two have to decide whether to accept life as damaged goods, or explore what their newly changed lives may have to offer. It’s an emotional but often funny story – think Nick Hornby, without the British accent. Water for Elephants author Sara Gruen calls the book “a beautifully wrought tale of courage, hope, and awakenings of all kinds.” To get a sense of the tone of ME AGAIN, watch this video trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAooOPnkuKA

 And now, Keith takes The Deb Interview:

Talk about one book that made an impact on you.

Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants – but not for the reasons you might suspect. I first read it as a Word document called Benzini. It was a manuscript that had her current publishers scratching their heads, and she herself was aware that it was a far cry from the horse-oriented romantic novels that people were likely expecting from her. But it was her labor of love, and she believed in the book (with good reason).

The reason it had such an impact on me is that it was the first time I recognized a “big” book before it became big. I was reading it with no expectations, and the story just kicked my ass. I’d read her other stuff, but with this manuscript she’d taken her writing – and her storytelling – to a whole new level. At least that’s what I thought, but hey, I was just another struggling wannabe, so what did I know? But watching the level of success her novel ultimately achieved gave me validation and confidence in my ability to know good writing when I see it. And of course it’s been a thrill to see it go from Word document to best-selling novel to a major movie. Talk about living the dream – yay, Sara!

Share one quirk you have that most people don’t know about.

I speak in haiku

extemporaneously

after a few drinks.Cover for Keith Cronin's ME AGAIN

 

(Observant readers

will no doubt notice that I’m

doing it right now.)

 

Hey – what can I say?

It’s all counting and rhythm,

just like playing drums.

 

Look what you’ve started.

I know what you’re thinking now:

Cronin must be stopped!

 

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Marry somebody rich. Failing that, I recommend a two-pronged approach:

1. Learn the craft.

2. Learn the business.

Strive for a balance between these. Avoid the temptation to seek shortcuts around the hard work that goes into learning to write publishable fiction. But don’t be such an “artiste” that you put yourself above learning how books get represented, sold, and promoted. The more you know, the better equipped you are for this wild ride. Stay aware of the ever-changing landscape of publishing, and try to develop a strategy for how you want to position yourself and your work. It’s an easy excuse to say “I just care about the writing,” but I think the more involved you are, the more control you can exert over what happens to the stuff you write.

Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?

I’ve had a long music career, and have met and performed with many major artists. Sometimes meeting them is wonderful; other times it’s crushingly disappointing. Bruce Springsteen was awesome – playing with him was incredible, and he was a fascinating person to talk to, simultaneously down-to-earth and intense.

My experience with authors has been pretty similar: mostly great people, with the occasional weenie. I recently got to meet Jennifer Crusie at this year’s RWA National Conference. It was at this massive signing event, and I was totally prepared for her to only have time for a perfunctory greeting. But she recognized my name from one of the discussion forums she hosts, and stood up and hugged me, and then proudly proclaimed to the authors on either side of her, “Hey guys, this is KEITH!” – as if that would mean anything to them.

Jennifer’s a real hero of mine, both in terms of her smart, funny writing, and her incredible commitment to always giving something back to other writers. So that was a huge moment for me – I floated around the conference for the rest of the day (which is not easy for a guy my size).

Do you have a regular ‘first reader’? If so, who is it and why that person?

Yes, I’m a big believer in the “first reader” model, something I picked up from Stephen King’s marvelous On Writing. And like King, my reader is also my life partner, indie artist Luna Jade (who also produced my book trailer, shot my cover photos, and wrote and sang the song featured in my book trailer – yeah, she’s kinda talented).

This is a person who totally gets me and what I’m trying to do, so she can tell when I’ve succeeded in conveying my idea – and can also tell when I haven’t. And she is my gauge for whether or not my humor is working. I know when I’ve succeeded in being funny with my writing, because I can hear her laugh all the way from the other side of the house. That laugh is one of the most satisfying sensations. With Me Again, I managed to make her laugh AND cry. That’s when I knew I had something!

Thanks for being with us today with your words of wisdom, Keith!  And you made us laugh – we love your haiku!

You can find more info about Keith through his links below:

Keith’s website: http://www.keithcronin.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/keithcronin

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/KeithCronin

Keith’s column at the Writer Unboxed blog: http://writerunboxed.com/author/keithcronin/

And for one lucky commenter, Keith has offered up the prize of a copy of ME AGAIN (US only, please). To be entered, please comment and tell us about a book that made an impact on YOU (bonus entry if it’s in haiku).

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12 thoughts on “The Debutante Ball Welcomes another debut author, Keith Cronin

  1. OH MY GOSH! Keith just won my daily virtual award for the for being the first person to make me laugh out loud.

    The book trailer is so good that I shared it on facebook.
    I must have this book!

    I remember reading The Thorn Birds when it first came out. I had a good relationship with our librarian and asked her if she’d read it. The library didn’t even have it. I told her she must get it. “It will be a movie some day,” I told her; it was.

    (That was a side note; not the book that had a huge impact on me.) There have been many that have touched me deeper:
    The Dollmaker by Arnow for the main character’s strength; Still Alice by Lisa Genova blew me away; and agreeing with Keith on
    Water For Elephants.

    This interview has to be one of my all time favorites. He’s a funny guy.

  2. Good interview, Keith!
    You are quite a funny guy.
    ME AGAIN sounds great!

    Thanks for visiting
    here at the Debutante Ball–
    we love having you.

    Oh my freaking gawd,
    now you’ve got me doing it
    Somebody stop me!

  3. THE HELP made an impact on me…written from the 1960s…only a few years ago, right? 😉
    thanks for the chance to read ME AGAIN.

  4. Love the haiku, Keith. And the reminder that I need to reread On Writing, stat.

    I recently read a friend’s manuscript and had that same feeling, like – ‘hey, this is a book that could DO something.’ She got a two-book deal yesterday, and as her friend I get a lot of confidence in the fact that my instincts, at least in the sense of “can this sell?” were right. As writers, we need to believe that we have good judgement as to what stories work… and which need to be put down.

  5. Keith, Deb for a day!
    You’re a very funny guy
    Thanks for joining us!

    I have had ME AGAIN on my TBR pile for some time and can’t wait to get into it. Thanks for being with us and enlightening us today, Keith!

  6. Keith, I’ve heard such wonderful things about ME AGAIN–congratulations to you on your success!

    I just came back from meeting with my writers group and one of the things we discussed was this two-part structure of being a writer as you so aptly put it: Learn the craft, learn the business. It is so true, now more than ever, that as writers we have both the ability and responsibility to impact the process of getting our book into the hands of dear readers.

  7. This was just so great
    Getting to know Keith Cronin
    His book sounds awesome!

    If I win his book
    I’d be on a Deb Ball roll —
    Just read Deb-Marks’ book!

  8. Cool interview. Thanks for sharing your personal insights, Keith. The book that had the greatest impact on me as a reader (and later, as a writer) was Steinbeck’s OF MICE AND MEN. It was the first school-assigned book I actually read all the way through instead of just skimming for highlights to pass the test. The story and the characters just grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go. I was shocked and delighted. “So THIS is what it’s all about. THIS is why people read.”

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