Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Jon Krakauer

Jon Krakauer is the author of Where Men Win Glory, Under the Banner of Heaven, Eiger Dreams, Into the Wild, and Into Thin Air.

From his 2006 interview with Larry Weissman for Bold Type:

Bold Type: How did you start writing, what was your formal training?

Jon Krakauer: I never studied writing. but I'd always been a reader and had a secret fantasy about being a writer. Because of my climbing, I went to Alaska for the first time in 1974 to the Arrigetch Peaks in the Brooks Range and made three ascents of unclimbed peaks. The American Alpine Club has a journal, The American Alpine Journal, they publish every year which is a compendium of notable ascents around the world, and they invited me to write an article about these climbs. That was the first article I ever wrote. Three years later I was paid for the first time to write an article when I climbed the Devil's Thumb, and wrote about that for a now-defunct British magazine called Mountain. Then a friend and climbing partner, my writing mentor David Roberts, quit a teaching job at Hampshire College, where I had gone, to become an editor at Horizon. After a year he left Horizon to freelance, and said it's a great racket. He told me how to go about the protocol of writing query letters and convinced me to try freelancing. I dabbled in it for a couple of years and in 1983 quit my carpentry job and went for it and I've been writing ever since.

BT: How did you make the move from nature writing to mainstream magazines?

JK: I knew that you couldn't make a living simply writing about the outdoors, so I made an effort from the beginning of my freelance career to write about other subjects. Since I had been a carpenter, I felt like I could bullshit my way writing about ...[read on]
See Jon Krakauer's five best books on mortality and existential angst.

--Marshal Zeringue