A lifetime devoted to reading and collecting comic books, creative essay awards and a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia Univeristy helped university graduate Jeramey Kraatz release his first professional novel, "The Cloak Society," on Oct. 2.
"I've wanted to do something with words for as long as I can remember," Kraatz said.
Kraatz's writing began as a child and continued at TCU. He won the 2008 Boller Award for the Outstanding Senior Honors Presentation and graduated in 2008 with a degree in journalism along with studying advertising and English.
"As a kid, I wrote stories about the Super Mario Brothers and cartoon characters," Kraatz said. "At TCU, I'd write short stories for my friends when I couldn't swing actual gifts."
According to Kraatz, his fictional story "The Cloak Society" is about young Alex Knight, a fourth-generation super villain with telekinetic powers in the underground Cloak Society. Ten years ago, Cloak was almost destroyed by a team of superheroes called the Rangers of Justice.
Since then, Kraatz said, the Cloak Society has been waiting for the perfect moment to retaliate and become the rightful rulers once again. But on his first mission, Alex ends up saving the life of a young female Ranger, Kirbie, and questions what he is fighting for.
Kraatz said the idea came to him in early 2010. The writing began in the late spring of that year before selling the series to HarperCollins Publishers in January 2011.
"I fell in love with the story and the characters," Kraatz said. "I tried to write the kind of book I would have wanted to read when I was a kid, which isn't really that different from the kinds of stories I like to read now."
Kraatz said he admits to being a "big nerd." He wrote about the comic book industry at Columbia University and served as an editorial intern in the X-Men Department at Marvel.
Charlotte Hogg, an associate professor of English who taught Kraatz, said his ability to write about fictional and sometimes awkward situations is what helped him win creative writing awards at the university.
"He blends poignancy and humor beautifully," Hogg said. "In 'The Cloak Society,' what stands out are cultural references that some readers will pick up on, but that younger readers who may not will still enjoy the story at face value."
English professor Karen Steele, who taught Kraatz in 2004, said some of her classes are studying Kraatz's work. He has been invited to speak to one of her upper division children's literature classes this fall.
Steele said her students learn a great deal from speaking to and learning from the author, especially as students begin their careers.
Kraatz is now working in the animation industry in Grapevine, Texas. He is also beginning the sequel to "The Cloak Society."
According to Hogg, Kraatz will be on campus to give a reading on Wednesday, Nov. 14 in Moudy South at 7 p.m. The reading is free and open to the public.