Aspiring author shows his ‘Claus’
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org September 19, 2012 2:16PM
Author Karl Krueger holds his book “The Claus Chronicles, Tales of a Mall Santa,” at his home in Merrionette Park. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 2:39PM
Like many authors, Karl Krueger writes about what he knows and lives.
For him, that means penning about his years as an Oak Lawn Community High School student, a mall Santa Claus and even a bartender.
An old license plate holder hanging in his yard reads “I’d rather be writing.” For Krueger, that’s certainly true.
“I write every day,” he said.
The Merrionette Park man has self-published his first book — “The Claus Chronicles, Tales of a Mall Santa” — is creating a screenplay of that work, and is planning a second book — “My Life Behind Bars, Confessions of a Serial Bartender.”
He and his friend Joe Durack, also a 1975 Oak Lawn High graduate, have co-written a cable TV series that follows two main characters through their four years in high school in the 1970s. They are seeking a buyer.
Krueger carries a notepad with him, or uses bar napkins, to jot down his observations of daily life.
“I come from a family of voracious readers,” he said of his appreciation for the written word.
He hopes parents, as well as kids, will appreciate “The Claus Chronicles,” consisting of his personal observations as a mall Santa for 10 years. The book is available through amazon.com. A portion of his proceeds will go to children’s hospitals, he said.
At just over 100 pages, Krueger designed it to be a guide for parents about visiting the jolly ol’ elf, and a keepsake — a place where kids could save their annual photos with Santa.
“Santa is more than a guy in a red suit; he’s a symbol of hope for millions,” Krueger wrote. “ ... he is the last line of hope to undo the last year of ‘naughty’ behavior. When you take your children to see him, to them, it’s not just a photo op, it’s a chance for redemption.”
With that in mind, Krueger advises parents not to go ballistic when their child doesn’t sit well for Santa. Let the photographer capture the moment, whatever that is.
He has chapters titled “What to expect from kids” and “What to tell kids about Santa.”
Being Santa has been a magical, gratifying experience for Krueger.
“I wish I could do it year-round,” he said.
He said he was inspired to write the book when one of his little visitors said, “I think he’s the real Santa.”
“Parents have forgotten what it’s like to be a kid,” he said, adding that he wants to help them recapture that magic.
He advises parents bringing their kids to see Santa to be patient and be prepared — bring something to do while you’re waiting in line, don’t trivialize their visit and don’t instill a fear of Santa in your child.
But even more entertaining than the parental tips are the pages filled with colorful letters and drawings he has saved from kids during his years as a mall Santa. This comprises most of the 100 pages and offers a lot of humor, insight and memories.
“Kids put a lot of effort into this,” Krueger said.
The wish lists range from a single item to a 19-page scroll, and include glued ads on a page, and letters from hospitalized siblings. They include lots of cookie suggestions and promises to reform.
Krueger has heard some heart-wrenching requests — “Bring my grandpa back” — and lots of appeals for live pets. (For that, see the chapter on “I’m Santa, kid, not Dr. Doolittle.”)
Krueger said his next book about life as a bartender will be similar, filled with common-sense tips on drinking as well as funny stories.
Self-publishing his first book has been a “learning experience,” which should make his next book a lot easier, he said.