Leyden teacher pens speculative fiction novel

Kurt Schuett has taught English at Leyden High School District 212 since 2000. He also coaches varsity softball and is known for organizing various fundraisers. As of Aug. 2, he’ll add another title to his repertoire — published author. Assent Publishing of Pennsylvania will publish his novel “Insurgency,” a work of speculative fiction.

Q. How long did it take you to write “Insurgency?”

A. About a year and a half.

Q. Challenges of writing this?

A. For me, one of the biggest challenges is overcoming the fear of sharing something you’ve written with people that you know.

Q. What is speculative fiction?

A. It’s just kind of a blend of genres or sub genres. If you have a book that includes, let’s say, science fiction and horror, that would be considered speculative fiction.

Q. So, you weren’t aiming to write the great American novel?

A. I’ll never publicize this as being the great American novel. This is isn’t literary fiction. I’ve written something purely for entertainment’s sake. It’s pulpy. It’s a quick fun read. That’s all I wanted to accomplish. Not the type of novel that needs to be taught in classroom setting. Type of novel to be turned into graphic novel or a video game.

Q. Your protagonist sounds complex. A former standardized test scorer and do-gooder of Generation X who has obsessive-compulsive disorder and might be a serial killer?

A. There are a lot of unique things. I’m hoping that will help with the marketability of the novel. Some people might say I’m not really interested in Chicago but like serial killers and zombies. So it has two things that peak their interest.

Q. And it’s set in Chicago during a G20 summit?

A. My brother is also a writer. We were kind of brainstorming some unique settings. We wanted to use Chicago because we know Chicago. No one ever did any kind of political thriller with the G20 in Chicago.

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. Some of the classic heavy hitters: F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway. I’m a big Shakespeare buff, maybe because I teach Shakespeare. I’m an enormous Stephen King fan. He’s an amazing storyteller. Over the last couple years, I’ve read a lot of Cormac McCarthy. The other guy I’ve always had a thing for is Hunter S. Thompson.

Q. How many publishers did you submit your manuscript to?

A. I queried well over 300 publishers. I ended up getting just over ten offers. They were all from mid-sized or small publishing companies.

Q. Besides talking to the Franklin Park Herald-Journal, how are you promoting your book?

A. I’m going to do a book launch at Half Price Books in Countryside on Aug. 2 from 1 to 3 p.m. I’m going to sell 100 paperback copies on a donation bases and give all that money to the Wounded Warrior Project. At East Leyden, I’m going to do a big book signing with the kids. And closer to Halloween, we’ll do a zombie inspired part at a nightclub in Leyden Township to raise money.

Q. Have you started wearing dark glasses so autograph hounds don’t pester you?

A. No. 1, I’m a teacher. No. 2, I’m a coach. This is something I enjoy doing. I’m not looking to make millions off it.

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