Local author describes surviving high school in 'Miracle Wimp'
By Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW - During the Great Depression, people took on second, third, even fourth jobs to pay the bills.
What is author Erik P. Kraft doing?
He spent a few hours walking around a table with a clipboard as an extra in an Adam Sandler/Salma Hayek film that's being shot in Boston.
"I've got all this time on my hands and I wanted a great story from the recession of '09," the East Longmeadow native explained. "It was a 15-hour day. It was fun but excruciating at the end of the day because of the tight pants I had to wear."
Kraft, who graduated from East Longmeadow High School in 1989, recently saw his fifth published book, "Miracle Wimp," released in paperback. The novel, published by Little, Brown, tells the story of Tom Mayo - who is nicknamed "Miracle Wimp" - as he finds new friends, loses old ones, gets his first job, passes his driver's test and discovers what it's really like to have a girlfriend.
"A lot of it is autobiographical," Kraft revealed in an interview with Reminder Publications. "It's about 75 percent autobiographical."
Things that really happened that are mentioned in the book: he and his friends did try to raft on the pond at Heritage Park and got in trouble with the police. He and his friends used to drive by houses and yell "Yo!" at them. He really did have to go to another town to find friends who shared his unique interests.
How has high school changed since he graduated? "I think the Internet has made high school very weird," Kraft said. "It's a good thing in that a kid like me with weird interests can connect with others more easily, but if you make one stupid mistake, it's all over Facebook.
"The same thing goes with cell phones," he continued. "Dating is so much easier with texting. It's sort of impersonal but the pressure is so much lower. The person on the other end can't hear the fear in your voice."
He added that he's curious to see what it will be like when his son, who is currently 15 months old, enters high school. "I'm sure it will be full of ever more awesome and horrible things," he said.
He receives fan letters and e-mails occasionally from readers who enjoyed "Miracle Wimp," and Kraft chalks that up to the fact that the type of person he was in high school is still out there. "I didn't fit in but I did my own thing," he said of his type.
Kraft is currently working on a book for a crowd he hasn't written for before, the eight- to 12-year-olds. His popular "Lenny and Mel" series is aimed toward a slightly younger crowd. He is also working on a trilogy of ninja stories.
He offered this piece of advice to budding authors: "Don't get discouraged. I still get rejected for stuff, even though I have five books published."
Kraft will be returning to his hometown in October for an event at the East Longmeadow Public Library. No dates or times have been finalized yet; for more information, visit the library and look for updates in The Reminder.
To learn more about Kraft and his work, visit www.erikpkraft.com