Hometown continues to inspire author
By Brian L. Gray
After a full career as a teacher and author of several children’s books, Kevin Kremer is now using his time to help out other burgeoning writers get their own writings published.
Kremer, a Mandan native, started up his own personal business in 2004, named after one of his books, Snow in Sarasota Publishing, to help others fulfill their dream of having a book published by offering them practical advice and guidance from the beginning to the end of the writing and publishing process.
“I set up a company that can help authors do anything they can’t do,” Kremer says. “That can involve many things – finding an artist, doing their worldwide distribution through a company I’m associated with, helping them promote their book, helping them through every step of the process from outlining through selling and promoting and helping them produce their e-book.”
The idea for the company began by happenstance, he says. A friend of Kremer’s, who works as a pilot, approached him one day with a book he wrote called “The Perfect Assassin” that he was hoping to self-publish. Kremer helped his friend with the writing and printing of the book, and he says he had so much fun with it that he decided to begin this company. His friend’s book is now being made into a movie.
“I try to keep balance in my life, and not make my little publishing company seem like work. Each day usually includes some time on the beach, lots of conversation at some coffee shops, and some ‘work’ on books,” he says.
Kremer lives in Sarasota, Fla., where he’s resided since 2001. He first checked out the city after reading that it had been voted the top city in America by Money Magazine. “I fell in love with the beaches, the culture, the numerous bookstores, the weather, the Ringling circus history and the people who were almost as friendly as North Dakotans,” he says.
Kremer began his teaching career in Mandan as a student teacher, where he taught at Mary Stark Elementary School under the direction of teacher Mr. Hellman. From there he taught in Rugby, teaching math and science classes at Ely Elementary School, and did so for one year. After that, Kremer returned to Bismarck, where he taught for the remainder of his career at Highland Acres and Dorothy Moses Elementary.
For Kremer, even a life in sunny Sarasota has not been enough to keep him from continuing to be inspired by the people he encountered and personal experiences he had while growing up in Mandan. The people he has known over the years, including many of his own students, have provided him with the inspiration for characters and storylines in his books. In fact, the illustrator Kremer has worked with since his first book, “A Kremer Christmas Miracle,” artist Dave Ely, first met Kremer when he was a grade school student of Kremer’s in Bismarck. They have continued to work together over the years.
Kremer even published his first book after his grade school class encouraged him to do so. “My first book was meant to be a Christmas story for my fifth graders at Dorothy Moses Elementary in Bismarck, along with family and friends,” Kremer says. “It was also a way to handle my grief when Jamie, our sheltie collie for 17 years, died. A small publishing company in Bismarck that no longer exists decided to publish it, and I had so much fun writing that first book that I decided to do a second.”
Kremer’s growing years in Mandan provide a solid foundation for much of his writing, and he says it continues to supply him with ideas. Using the town as the location for his stories, he says, was a natural thing to do. “I appreciate having grown up in a great town like Mandan. Our neighborhood on the 300 block of Division Street Northwest was the greatest place in the world to grow up, and it was loaded with interesting characters. They’ve shown up in many of my books, along with the rich history of the Mandan area,” he says.
Living in Sarasota has not slowed down Kremer’s interactions with his friends from the Mandan-Bismarck area, with the help of the electronic age. Kremer says email and Facebook have allowed him to more efficiently interact with people from his past that he continues to remain in touch with. They also often become characters in his books.
“I continue to use former students as characters in my stories. For example, Kevin Feeney, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, has been a character in many of my books. When he was in my fifth grade class at Dorothy Moses, I admired his always trying to be the best he could be, and Kevin always treated other people with empathy,” Kremer says. “Another example is Jan Pedersen, a girl who was in my sixth grade class who let me know early in the school year she wanted to be a medical doctor. Through the years, we kept in touch and I followed her all the way to the day she received her medical degree. She has become the character Doc in many of my books.”
Kremer recently published a new book, entitled “The Most Amazing Halloween Ever.” The story is about a fourth grade teacher in the fictional Mandan school of Sakakawea Elementary, who has a longstanding reputation for intimidating her students. This all changes when a mysterious email to the teacher gives her magical powers, and her students begin to enjoy the new special abilities their teacher is able to do.
A book signing will also take place tomorrow at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Bismarck, from 1 to 3 p.m. Three people involved in the book will be present to speak with people – illustrator Dave Ely, 4-year-old Katrice Kern of Bismarck, who is a character in the book, and Bismarck teacher Duane Roth, who has been written into every one of Kremer’s books.
In the last year alone Kremer has helped over 25 writers publish their works through his company. He also makes time to come up with new stories for him to write. He says he is normally working on two to three stories at a time. “Right now, I have rough outlines for my next two books and my idea for a third. The biggest challenge of the three will be a fictional story involving golf. I was inspired to do this by following my niece Carrie’s husband, Bo Van Pelt, a professional golfer on the PGA tour. Carrie is the daughter of my big brother, Mike.”
Ideas for his stories continue to come from not only his days from living in Mandan. Even though he’s no longer a teacher, Kre-mer continues to find inspiration from the many children that he meets during speaking engagements.
“When I’m considering my book ideas, I’m trying to think of stories that I’ll have fun writing, and I think kids of all ages might like,” he says. “My ideas come to me at the strangest times – at the beach, in the gym, in my sleep. A few have even come from questions asked by students during author visits to schools.”