Most frequently asked frequently asked questions first.
Will you read my unpublished novel?
Maybe. I have been helped along the way by many people who have taken the time to read and critique my own work, and I enjoy helping other people, too. Unfortunately, because of the large amount of reading I do for work—and the large amount of time I need to write—my time for reading unpublished novels is extremely limited. If your novel is pending publication, and you’re seeking a blurb, send me a short description and I’ll see if it piques my interest. If your novel is still in development and you’re seeking editorial assistance, I may be able to work with you for a fee. In both cases, I ask that you familiarize yourself with my work by actually reading some of it to ensure that we’re a good match for each other.
What kind of name is Keir?
Scots Gaelic. My parents, Tom and Nancy, were looking for a memorable name and were impressed by the performance of Keir Dullea in the film David and Lisa. Fortuitously, the name “Keir” also allowed my mother to honor her Scottish heritage (the name Graff already honoring my father’s German heritage). Keir Dullea would later go on to star in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, while I would go on to star in Harry Gadbow’s David and Lisa during my senior year at Hellgate High School.
Did you really attend a high school called Hellgate?
Yes. Our sister school was Sunnydale High School. However, unlike Sunnydale, Hellgate does not sit on top of a Hellmouth.
How about your elementary school? Did that have a cool name, too?
I attended Paxson Elementary, named for the painter Edgar Paxson. I guess it depends on your point of view.
Why did you leave Montana?
You can’t eat the scenery.
But aren’t there a lot of good writers in Montana?
Montana has more good writers per capita than any other state. However, some of our best writers are house painters.
Where and when did you meet your wife, Marya?
The year was 1994. The place: Palace Billiards. Incidentally, that’s where we went on our first date. The whole tale was documented by the Chicago Sun-Times.
What’s your favorite football team?
Never heard of them. Are they AFC or NFC?
Aston Villa plays in England’s Football League Championship.
So it’s a soccer team. Isn’t soccer boring?
Well, there’s not a lot of scoring, but they play for 90 minutes without taking any timeouts. And they add on extra time to make up for any stoppages in play. On the other hand, in the NFL, during a 60-minute game, the ball is in play for about 12 minutes. And shouldn’t they call it “throwball”?
Can we talk about writing now?
It’s your nickel.
How did you become a writer?
How does a plant, full of pluck and verve, turn into a bonsai tree? Heredity, environment, and pruning. Greenhouse metaphors aside, I’ve always been a writer. (More about this in my bio.) Although, for many years, I thought it would be easier to make a living as a musician. Then, finally, in my twenties, I realized that, if I were a writer and not a musician, if the bass player quit, I could still finish my novel.
What is your favorite point of view?
Limited first person. Although I have been known to flirt with unlimited first person.
Are your novels for adults thrillers?
The word thriller will soon be as devalued as the word hero. But if your publisher puts it on the cover, what are you gonna do? Saying something is a “character-driven political novel of suspense” won’t sell unless the buyer is me. All that said, my most recent adult novel, The Price of Liberty, was actually a thriller.
I’ve heard that you also write children’s books.
Yes, through a wonderful, serendipitous chain of events, a book I wrote for my son Felix, The Other Felix, was published by Roaring Brook Press in 2011.
Aren’t you worried that your other son felt left out?
Yes. Fortunately, Putnam Books for Young Readers will be publishing The Matchstick Castle in January 2017. That one is for Cosmo, even if his name isn’t in the title.
Is it true that you juggle while you write?
That would be impossible. But, in cold weather, I do take juggling breaks. It keeps my fingers warm.
Are you a good juggler?
Good enough to impress five-year-olds, not good enough to join the Flying Karamazov Brothers.
Any other questions? Send me an e-mail.