GREENDALE - A former writer and paranoid loner tries to reclaim himself and his craft by novelizing his neighbor’s life.
No, it’s not a true story. It’s the premise of “The Expanse Between,” the first published novel by Greendale resident Lee L. Krecklow.
Krecklow has lived his whole life in the Milwaukee area, earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a major in film studies. He has written and directed two short films.
So how did a film major end up becoming a novelist?
Krecklow said his interest in writing came from working on films. He worked at a theater in high school and that led to him wanting to be a filmmaker. He later discovered short films can be “expensive and hard” and found what he really liked was the narrative and storytelling aspect.
Additionally, Krecklow said the feedback he received from the scripts he wrote was that he was “directing from the page” and including too much.
Krecklow has been published in the past, with a few of his short stories appearing in literary journals such as Oxford Magazine, Midwestern Gothic and The Madison Review. He won the 2016 Million Writers Award for his short story, “The Son of Summer and Eli.”
He said some look at short fiction as a gateway to writing novels, but he called it “an amazing art in itself.”
Even though he has transitioned into novels, Krecklow said he plans to continue writing short fiction as well.
Krecklow said his novel, “The Expanse Between,” was originally a script he wrote 17 years ago. It was the last script he wrote before he decided he wasn’t going to work with film anymore.
It took seven years from the time he decided to rewrite the script as a novel to when he signed the publishing contract with Winter Goose Publishing.
Krecklow said he spent a year or two sending the manuscript to a few agents and small presses before getting accepted at Winter Goose Publishing which happened through networking.
Krecklow said he made a friend at Midwestern Gothic, which helped move things along at Winter Goose.
“You really need to be social in the community,” Krecklow said regarding getting published.
Krecklow credits his time working to get his short fiction published as to how he built relationships in the industry.
He said many writers default to novels, but he feels short fiction is “so much fun.”
“If you’re not reading and writing short fiction, you should be,” Krecklow said.
Literary journals can give fledgling authors a jump-start.
“Don’t turn your nose up at smaller literary journals or presses,” Krecklow said. “It’s a ladder. Never turn down anybody who’s interested in your work.”
Self-publishing through Amazon or Barnes and Noble has become increasingly popular. Krecklow said if someone wants to follow that route they really need to be aware of the unique challenges that brings. He said there is a lot to understand if you want your work to be successful, and publishers give a lot of guidance with book design, editing and other things.
“I will never tell somebody they should not have self-published an already self-published book,” Krecklow said. “It’s OK to self-publish if you are aware of the stigma that surrounds it and you have a plan and resources to overcome it.”
Krecklow said one of the biggest challenges with a smaller press (and even more so with self-publishing) is there isn’t a lot of money in promotion. He said a lot depends on word-of-mouth as well as social media such as Facebook and Goodreads. He said the goal is to take advantage of the pre-publication period.
“Get as solid of a base for it before it actually lands,” he suggests.
The Greendale Library held a special event for Krecklow as part of their author studio series on May 12 shortly after the book released. A talk was held along with a question-and-answer session followed by a book signing.
“I’m very happy they’ve got my back,” Krecklow said.
Why should you pick up his book?
“If you want to read something edgier than most popular fiction that would challenge some storytelling conventions and if you want something that would explore dark personalities with empathy, my book would be a good fit,” Krecklow said.
He said his book isn’t a “conventional thriller, nor is it a sleepy introspective literary book.” He said he likes literary fiction with dark elements sometimes driven by elements of surprise and noir.
“It crosses genres,” he added.
Krecklow is currently 50,000 words into his second novel, which he said is “going much faster.” He’s estimating it will be between 70-80,000 words when it’s finished. He is also working on a collection of his short stories but plans to get traction with his new novel and possibly the second before releasing it.
Those interested in purchasing Krecklow’s book can do so locally at Boswell Books, but could also order via the Barnes and Noble website as well as Amazon.