'Under the Banner of Heaven' author Jon Krakauer ready for SFLF as a participant, fan - Albuquerque Journal

‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ author Jon Krakauer ready for SFLF as a participant, fan

John Krakauer is one of the many authors at the Santa Fe Literary Festival. (Courtesy of Scott McDermott)

Jon Krakauer is done writing books.

“They are just too much,” the author says. “I’m 68 now and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life sitting and writing. I’m going to do all those other things I’ve always wanted to do.”

Over the course of his career, Krakauer has written some bestsellers – “Into the Wild, “Into Thin Air,” “Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman” and “Under the Banner of Heaven.”

“I’m glad I wrote all those books,” he says. “When it comes to writing, there’s a lot of work that goes into it. I love doing the research and the interviews. For ‘Under the Banner of Heaven,’ I transcribed thousands of pages of notes. The interviews are hours long.”

“Under the Banner of Heaven” by John Krakauer

Krakauer is one of more than a dozen authors participating in the inaugural Santa Fe Literary Festival, which takes place Friday, May 20, through Monday, May 23, in Santa Fe.

While Krakauer is slated to be on stage at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, May 22, he’s carved out time to participate in other festival events.

“I still read more books,” he says with a laugh. “The lineup for the festival is amazing to me. Margaret Atwood is brilliant. Then you have Colson Whitehead. I want to make the time to hear Phil Klay because I spent a lot of time in Afghanistan too when I was writing. It’s an amazing event to be a part of both as an author and as a fan of books.”

Krakauer says when he was writing in the early 1980s while living in Seattle, he and his wife would attend literary events similar to the Santa Fe event.

“We were broke and I remember going to those (events),” he says. “To find the writers I admire and learn more about their work.”

Krakauer is no stranger to having his work adapted for TV or film, as he’s had both good and bad experiences. The first time his work was adapted was after he wrote the article that would become “Into Thin Air.”

“It was this horrible TV movie,” he says. “From that point on, I was reluctant.”

Though when Sean Penn came calling to direct “Into the Wild,” in the mid-2000s, Krakauer trusted the director and was happy with the film.

Krakauer’s most recent foray into the TV world is “Under the Banner of Heaven,” which is currently airing on FX and Hulu.

Though it took him awhile to actually answer a call about the project.

“I got a lot of calls with people interested in the project,” he says. “I figured I already got lucky with ‘Into the Wild’ being done so well. Then my niece, who is a documentary filmmaker, heard that I wasn’t returning Ron Howard’s calls. He convinced me and I knew it was a gamble. I was impressed with the rough cuts right away. The central character is invented and it’s important for adaptations. The spirit of the book comes through in the series.”

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