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Library hosts Krueger, best-selling author of this year's Crete Reads! book

Author William Kent Krueger talks with Friends of the Crete Public Library members Bunny Dudley (left) and Erika Newmeyer on Saturday evening.

Crete Public Library hosted New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger for dinner and a presentation in the Crete Carrier Community Room on Oct. 22.

Krueger is the author of "This Tender Land," the book selection for this year's Crete Reads! community-wide read. Multiple programs were held throughout the year on the book's themes and subject matter, culminating in a visit from the author, made possible by the Friends of the Crete Public Library.

Tickets were available for the dinner and guests were also invited to attend the presentation only. 

Krueger and his wife, Diane, who has Nebraska roots, came to Crete early and visited Doane University on Friday, touring campus and meeting with students in the English department for discussions on creative writing. They attended the Doane football game against Northwestern College on Saturday afternoon before the evening event.

Krueger spent time mingling with guests before dinner, telling quick stories, answering questions about his writing, and learning a little about Crete.

During his talk he spoke about how the earliest lessons children learn are through stories and shared his boyhood experience in a local library, where caring staff fostered his curiosity for stories. As a boy who loved comics, he immersed himself in adventure classics like "The Count of Monte Cristo," and "The Three Musketeers."

He wanted the characters' journey to the Mississippi River in "This Tender Land" to be his version of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer classic tales. Krueger even shared a story of his own youthful endeavor to navigate a local creek near his home in northern Ohio all the way to Lake Erie. His personal experience as a boy, however, ended quickly with a lack of engineering skills possessed by himself and his young peers.

Krueger talked candidly on his early career as a writer, his mystery series with protagonist Cork O'Connor, and how stand-alone books, like "This Tender Land," come to fruition. He shared about his creative process and the historical research that crafted his stories, answering questions from the audience about characters, themes, and even details readers may have missed.

Before the evening was over, he graciously signed copies of books and stood for photos, including one with a local book club of library patrons.

"This Tender Land," (464 pages) 1932, Minnesota—the Lincoln School is a pitiless place where hundreds of Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to an orphan named Odie O’Banion, a lively boy whose exploits earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Forced to flee, he and his brother Albert, their best friend Mose, and a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi and a place to call their own. Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphans will journey into the unknown and cross paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, "This Tender Land" is an enthralling, big-hearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.

Find more of Krueger's works in Crete Public Library's catalog.