Friday Questions: An Interview with Ted Kluck
The first time I heard of Ted Kluck was when I read his book (coauthored with Kevin DeYoung) Why We’re Not Emergent: By Two Guys Who Should Be
. I even interviewed him back then. Since then I’ve enjoyed some of his satirical books like Younger Restlesser Reformeder: A Good-Natured Roast
and Kinda Christianity: A Generous, Fair, Organic, Free-Range Guide to Authentic Realness
. I’ve enjoyed Ted’s writing.
His latest book, Dallas and the Spitfire: An Old Car, an Ex-Con, and an Unlikely Friendship
, comes out on April 1, and looks fascinating:
Ted is an educated thirty-something father of two who’s been going to church his whole life. Dallas is a twenty-one-year-old former cocaine addict with a prison record who has recently become a Christian. When they agree to meet regularly for “discipleship,” they know that chatting once a week in a coffee shop just won’t cut it. Instead, they decide to get to know each other while restoring an old Triumph Spitfire. Filled with surprises and humor, Dallas and the Spitfire tells a gripping story of two lives changed, and along the way gives readers a new model for men’s ministry.
It’s available for preorder right now at Amazon
I’m grateful that Ted was willing to answer some questions about writing, and about his pastor, Kevin DeYoung.
How did you get into writing?
That’s the proverbial long story. It was really a lucky break, but we Reformed types don’t say lucky … we say “providency” I guess. I didn’t major in English or Journalism or anything…I was a Comm Arts major which basically meant “watch movies and write about your feelings.” At Taylor University I met a great looking girl who thought I wrote well, and who gave me a steady diet of classic literature to read. I asked her to marry me three months after we met. After college I got some poetry published (believe it or not) in the kinds of fey, arty poetry journals that “pay” authors in copies of the journal, and then started a sports-satire e-zine called “The Field Judge” that caught the eye of an ESPN editor who let me write for the magazine. After that, the magazine stuff turned into online stuff, and I got my first book deal in 2005 for “Facing Tyson: Fifteen Fighters, Fifteen Stories.”
I gave no thought to writing growing up … I thought I was going to play football forever and then coach after that. God had other plans I guess (for which I’m thankful!).
Every writer seems to have a routine that works for them. What’s yours?
Mine can be boiled down to: Get as far away from my kids as possible, and then start writing (aside: my kids are outside my office door, whining, as I type this). Sometimes that means putting on headphones and listening to music, sometimes it’s going to a coffee shop by my house (Biggby in Grand Ledge – holla) and sometimes it’s just holing up in the office. But for me being exposed to great art in other areas – movies, music, etc. – always motivates me to write.
Note: I adore my kids…they just make it hard to write.
What keeps you motivated to keep writing?
Practically speaking, it pays the bills. Otherwise, I’ve worked enough crummy day jobs to REALLY appreciate the blessing I have in being able to write for a living, even with all the ups and downs. I really love the buzz of sitting down with a blank page and creating something out of nothing. I’m thankful that God is letting me do this and I hope to do it for as long as I can. Also, the teaching I do (at Cornerstone University and Montcalm Community College) always keeps the creative fires stoked – I love being around students and seeing the world through their eyes.
You’ve written on sports, theology, adoption, humor, and more. Do you find any of these kinds of writing easier than others?
The easiest kind of writing is the kind that you do ONLY for yourself. What makes writing hard (for me) is releasing it to the world … letting an editor take his whacks at it, and then turning it loose to the public for them to like or dislike. I always score “introvert” on those personality tests (which we took a lot of in college – see: Comm Arts) and I think my dream is to make a living writing books that I never have to release or sell. I’m well on my way to the “not selling” part (cue: drums, cymbals).
Are there any books on writing you’d recommend?
Actually, until I started an MFA program last summer I had truly never read a book on writing. My advice would just be to read a ton of great books in your area of interest. My goal was always to be as good as or better than the writers I really admired – guys like David Foster Wallace, George Plimpton, Chuck Klosterman, Tom Wolfe, and JD Salinger. (Note: I’m not better than any of those writers).
Bonus question (if you choose): Can you give us any dirt on Kevin DeYoung?
There is absolutely no dirt on KDY. He’s dirtless. Actually, he’s the real deal – just a fantastic guy and I’m thankful for his ministry and friendship. If he has a weakness it’s that he has the culinary palate of a small child – strictly a cheeseburgers and mac and cheese kind of guy.