My Best Fan

My mother died in 2010.  She was 89-years old although she would tell everyone she was 90.  I believe that if she were still alive, she would have read all of my books.  As it was, she only read The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas.  She loved that book.  I recall reading the manuscript The Hamsa to her as she lay in a hospice bed.  I think she would have enjoyed that book because much of the story occurs in Poland.  She did not live to see it published.  I think she would have read all the books and enjoyed them, although she would have reprimanded me for using the F-bomb in DWI: Dying While Intoxicated “too many times.”

#1 Fan

My wife Marie – to whom I dedicated Gaspar – finished Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ last night.  She loved it.  I’ll take her at her word.  As it is, she is the only one in my family who has read every word in each of my six books.  I suspect middle son Brad will complete the hexalogy when he finishes his masters at Thunderbird in December.

I believe my spiritual advisors Mary Ann and Alexei Michalenko have completed them all, and possibly my friend Father Paul.  If someone else has read all of my books, I would like to hear from you and acknowledge you.

Four copies of Gaspar sit on my desk in mailers to the winners of the Goodreads Giveaway.  While I’ve signed all four, I added a special message to two because those two winners responded to my congratulatory email.  To them I wrote

“If you read this book and find one thing of value, I will be pleased.”

Since finishing the book last night, Marie has commented throughout the day, “I really like the way you did this …. IE.S. Kraay really like the way you did that …. How did you think to do it this way or that way ….”

Marie doesn’t write reviews, but as of today, I must consider her more than my wife … she is my biggest fan.

The Cure for All Human Ills

E.S. KraayIn 1916, this is what C.S. Lewis wrote to his childhood friend, Arthur Greeves.

“Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing:  ink is the cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.”

I think he’s right.  Although I first penned The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas in 2002 through 2004, I didn’t move into high gear until 2008 with The Hamsa, and then I worked ‘after hours’ as I was still imprisoned by corporate America until I broke the chains in 2011.  Through the years, I’ve produced nearly a million creative words.


  • The Olympian            82,972
  • The Hamsa               133,943
  • Tobit                             81,642
  • DWI                             111,841
  • The Sixth Day              17,175
  • Gaspar                      138,000


That’s a total of 565,573 creative words.

 I manage and write for three websites.

  • The Vitruvian Man, which now has 602 posts
  • ESKraay Online, 173 posts
  • Tucson Poverello House, 21 posts

If the average post is 400 words, that’s 318,000 more creative words.

I’m closing in on a million words.  Compared to Steven King and Dean Koontz, that’s not squat diddly – or is it diddly squat.

The other day, someone said to me, “But you’re retired ….”  Retired?  It is a fact that I left traditional employment several years ago.  I tried to escape corporate America initially in 2002, but got sucked back in from 2004 through 2011 when I finally escaped with no regrets.  Retired?  One million words over four years when I moved into high gear is 684 words each day, 365 days a year.  Try writing 700 creative words a day for one month.  I challenge you.  Tell me how easy that is.

I agree with C.S. Lewis.  I do receive comfort from the process it takes to transfer an idea to a piece of paper.

When all is said and done, every week some reader somewhere makes my day with a comment on something I’ve written.  That is not vanity as we’ve read all week in the Book of Ecclesiastes.  It is a reward for the countless hours that go into each page that leaves my desk.

Last week, I was walking through the Redemptorist campus on my way to the monthly book club discussion.  I converged on a path with my friend Sarah.

“I almost didn’t come today,” she remarked.

“Why’s that?” I countered.  “Don’t you enjoy these discussions?”

“Absolutely,” Sarah replied, “But I only have 60 pages left to read in your new book Gaspar.  It is one, incredible book, and it really pained me to put it down to come to this meeting.”

“Sarah, you just made my day,” I said with a broad grin on my face.

To quote C.S. Lewis a final time, “Ink is the cure for all human ills.”

Thanks, C.S. Lewis, thanks Sarah, and thanks to all of you who have read Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ and offered me your comments.  You’ve made my day.

A Kindle Discount

We have a poll running in which I invite you to participate.  You can find it in the right sidebar.

The last full week in September 2014, we will run one E.S. Kraay Kindle edition [Excluding the West Point trivia book and The Sixth Day, A 17-175-Word Novella About Creation and Prizefighting] at a 50% discount … maybe more if the mood strikes me.  I am asking you to help me decide which book to feature at a discounted rate.  Please participate in the poll.  Thanks for your continued support.

The Hamsa
Gaspar cover
The Olympian

Gaspar and Harry Potter

With the possible exceptions of The Olympian, a villain creeps naturally into each of my manuscripts.

German Untersturmführer Feldman, a Nazi plays an important role in The Hamsa.  While it may be difficult to determine who the good guy is and who is the bad guy, there are a number of villainous candidates to choose from in DWI: Dying While Intoxicated.  There is clear conflict in The Sixth Day, but it would be difficult to label Stashu, the white boxer or even Ernie Soldato, the gang leader as a villain.  Here’s a teaser:  In HopLite Entertainment’s screenplay for “Third Man” written by Alistair McKenzie and Jasmine Fontes there is a clear ‘villain,’ but I won’t let on which character can claim that title.

Of all my villains, I am most ‘fond’ of Wolfenbüttel, the overseer of the Nineveh Plantation in Tobit and the Hoodoo Man.  Wolfenbüttel is a bad, bad man, and like Black Bart in “Christmas Story,”  ‘he gets his’ in the end.  Which leads me to Gaspar …

Early today, I received an email from Father Alexei Michalenko, former Chaplain at the Georgetown University Law Center.  I was pleased with the opening four words

KUDOS!!!  I loved Gaspar.

While I am apt to share more from Fra Michalenko’s commentary, I want to focus this post on villains.  “I sensed so many connections in what I read,” Fra Michalenko writes, “Elements of characters from Harry Potter.  Alexander and Flavian reminded me of Saverus Snape and Draco Malfoy.”  For starters, I may be the sole person on planet Earth who has not read a Harry Potter book nor watched one of the films.  Consequently, I was required to research the two characters to whom he referred.

What I share here is not a spoiler.  For those who have not read Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ, Alexander is an arrogant, overly confident teacher at the Greek Ptolemaeum where Gaspar also instructs in 20 AD or so, and Flavian is a helper there and serves as Alexander’s aide de camp.  Both characters surface again 10 to 15 years later in the most unlikely of circumstances.  I will leave it at that.

GasparAccording to Wikipedia, Saverus Snape

is a person of considerable complexity, whose coldly sarcastic and controlled exterior conceals deep emotions and anguish. … Snape is a teacher who is hostile from the start toward Harry and is built up to be the primary antagonist….

As for Draco Malfoy, Wikipedia tells me

Draco is characterized as a cowardly bully who manipulates and hurts people to get what he wants

As I think about my characters Alexander and Flavian, I could say the same about them except I would not characterize Flavian as cowardly … he is a bully for sure, but not cowardly.  As I study the image of Snape on Wikipedia (portrayed by Alan Rickman), I believe Rickman would suit Alexander’s role well if the story ever went to film.

Given the length of the book, the reader will find other ‘villains,’ but none play the pivotal roles of Alexander and Flavian.

If you’ve read Gaspar, I think you will understand Fra Michalenko’s reference to the Harry Potter characters.  If you haven’t read the book, you might consider putting it on your list, just as I will add Harry Potter to mine.

Notes on Gaspar

With the imminent release of my new book Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ, I want to share some thoughts about the book with my subscribers …

I’ve long thought about writing this book, and it became more important to me in recent years as I explore my own spirituality and spiritual cultures and practices around the world.  In May 2012 immediately after the release of DWI: Dying While Intoxicated, I began this manuscript with my core thought that truth is universal.

I have always believed that the single most provocative question ever asked through the entire course of human history was the question Pontius Pilate asks Christ in the Gospel of John, chapter 18, verse 38:  “What is Truth?”  In John’s Gospel, Jesus never answers Pilate’s question.  In my book Gaspar, he does.

This is not a book about Jesus, nor is it my retelling of the Gospels.  Far from it and I’ve told my friend and spiritual mentor Father Paul that I believe there are things in this book that may not sit well with some readers.  “The best books create controversy,” he tells me.  I think he is correct.

Jesus appears three times throughout the 140,000-word manuscript:  at his birth; as a teenager in Athens; and in the final two chapters when Gaspar returns to Judea.  There is similarity between my humble effort and the work of General Lew Wallace who penned Ben Hur, A Tale of the Christ in 1880 when he was Governor of the New Mexico Territory.  General Wallace’s book is not about Christ although Jesus appears three times and greatly influences the story.  With all due respect to Lew Wallace and his masterpiece, I decided to subtitle my book ‘Another Tale of the Christ.’

lew wallacePeople remember Ben Hur because of William Wyler’s 1959 Academy Award winning film.  I saw it when it premiered at the Capitol Theater in Pittsfield, Massachusetts when I was 10-years old and I watched it at least a dozen times since.  The story never grows old.  I hope readers feel the same about my book.

Most folks remember the two extraordinary action sequences in the film, the naval engagement between the Roman fleet and the Macedonian pirates and the memorable chariot race.  The ‘about the book’ description of Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ does not discuss action and adventure.  The fact is, there are plenty of ‘action sequences’ to please readers who might require it.  Most prominently are a pair of gladiatorial engagements that are important to the story, but there are others that I hope help advance the story and will satisfy the desire for ‘action’ that many of us require in our books and films.  I will emphasize again that these scenes are important to the story and are not in the book just to ‘liven it up.’

I have taken great liberty and exercise my ‘artistic license’ in re-telling a handful of Gospel stories many readers will be familiar with:  the Good Samaritan; the adulterous woman; and Christ’s passion among them.  My interpretation means no disrespect to traditional telling of the stories.  I personally visualize them in another way and have included them in the narrative as I see them.

I expect publication by the end of August.  I will alert you when the book is available.  Thanks for your continued interest and support.


99¢ DWI Promo

DWIDWI: Dying While Intoxicated is available all week to Kindle readers for $.99 as in 99¢ as in 99-cents as in less than a buck.  Promo starts Monday morning, March 31, 2014 and runs through Saturday morning, April 5, 2014.

The idea behind DWI: Dying While Intoxicated came to me nearly 40 years ago when I was an F-106 alert pilot based out of Griffiss AFB in Upstate, New York.  A fellow pilot told me his solution to clear the streets of drunk drivers.  The idea stuck with me.

In 2002 when I decided I wanted to write books, I started with this one, DWI.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could sit at my desk and write a novel from start to finish.  Mission accomplished.  I placed the manuscript in a drawer and headed off to Gray, Georgia where I wrote The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas.

Years later after three historical novels – The Olympian, The Hamsa and Tobit and the Hoodoo ManDWI called to me.  I resurrected it to clear it from my list.  Throughout the re-write process, I conferred with my longtime friend and attorney, the eminent David T. Hamilton from St. Charles, Missouri.  At Counselor Hamilton’s urging, I changed the ending, majorly and significantly.  Without revealing the original ending or the one I went with, Mr. Hamilton was adamant when he said, “Don’t do it!  I can get the guy off!”

And so we went to print with the revised ending, which now calls to me to write a sequel.

Sequel or not, we’ve decided to offer the eBook to Kindle users this week, beginning Monday morning, March 31st through Saturday morning, April 5th at 99¢.  If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do it.

As an added incentive, if you purchase the book – or if you already own it and have read it – and write a review on of 50 words minimum, I will send you Alistair McKenzie’s audio production of The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas FREE.  I will honor the first five reviewers with the free audio book.  Just email me at “eskraay AT eskraay DOT com” and tell me you have posted your Amazon review.  Once I verify it, I will send you the audio book.

Thanks for your continued support.


The Creative Urge

I could say it started in 1976 when I wrote my first manuscript, hand-written.  I called it The Messiah.  It was a Holocaust story.  It still sits quietly in my closet, untouched for 37 years.  Then again, maybe it was The Wisemaen [not misspelled] in 1979, a horror story.  It hides somewhere in my office as well.

It wasn’t DWI: Dying While Intoxicated.  Wrote the original draft in 2002 just to see if I had the courage to sit at a keyboard and pound out a complete manuscript.  No, it wasn’t DWI [which I completed and published years later in 2012].

It started in the FALL of 2002 when I sequestered myself in the woods near Gray, Georgia, a quaint little town not far from Juliette where they filmed “Fried Green Tomatoes.”  Marie and I would head to Juliette for Sunday brunch at least once a month to get our fill at the Whistle Stop Café.  It’s a real place.

In the fall of 2002, I began The Olympian: A Tale of Ancient Hellas.  I completed it in 2004, and published in 2008.  I followed with two more historical novels, then DWI, the cop-thriller and The Sixth Day last year.

I’ve been working on my new offering since May 2012.

Steven Pressfield

“It’s a tough business,” Steve conceded over his fish and chips.  “Why do you do it?” he asked me.

I played with my tuna steak and replied, “Because I have something to say.”

Steve Pressfield smiled and nodded.  He knows exactly what I am talking about.

The following day, I met with Alistair McKenzie and Jasmine Fontes, the narrator and producers of The Sixth Day: A 17,175-word Novella About Creation and Prizefighting.  Alistair and Jasmine are energetic ‘creators’ in the creative LA environment.  As I chatted with them about our particular projects, it occurred to me how involved, engaged and – doggone it – simply busy creative people are.

Alistair McKenzie

But you know what?  They love it.  They love each creative hour that they spend on saying what they have to say and creating what they have to create.

Yes, dollars and cents are important, but subservient to the carnal urge to say what each has to say.

I’ll not deny that I wait for the big bang.  In the meantime, I am content to say and write what I have to say with the hope that someone out there will listen and take each word I put to page to heart.