Fantasy focus

UND student Dakota Krout may be a Computer Sciences major, but he’s also making a name for himself as a best-selling author

UND senior Dakota Krout doesn’t like being idle; he’s not a big fan of sleeping, either.

“Sleeping is one of my least favorite things to do,” Krout said, “because you have to just lay there doing nothing. I love being awake.”

The Computer Science major from Luck, Wis., recently found out that innate restlessness might serve him well in a second career as a best-selling fantasy writer. It started last May when he decided to harness all his energy and pour it into writing.

“I got home from work and said, ‘Well, now what?’“ Krout shrugged. “I had nothing to do for the rest of the evening. So, I just grabbed my laptop and wrote for six hours.”

That night, he pounded out the first 30 pages of his recently published Kindle e-book, Dungeon Born (The Divine Dungeon Book 1). The book, about a mystical being named “Cal,” was an unexpected and runaway success with fantasy genre readers, cracking Amazon’s Top 10 Best Seller list in the “Epic Fantasy” and “Swords & Sorcery” categories. Overall, Dungeon Born made it to #324 in the Amazon rankings, an impressive feat considering the many thousands of titles available.

The e-book was so successful that Amazon released the print edition on Friday, but Krout seems to be doing more writing than celebrating. He’s already 150 pages into Book 2 of The Divine Dungeon series. Though he preferred not to get into specifics, Krout said the writing gig is making him money.

“I try to channel all my energy into creative things,” Krout said. “I can’t play music, and can’t draw a picture for the life of me. My only creative avenue is writing.”

Krout reads a lot, and that passion for books has fueled his desire and ability to write well. He’s thankful for Kindle Unlimited and its relatively cheap source of reading material: without it, he would be broke. He was a competitive speed-reader in high school who could devour a 300-page book in an hour-long lunch break.

“I can read much faster when I enjoy what I read,” Krout laughs. “I’ve always enjoyed seeing someone else’s mind. If they had a world all of their own, what would they do with it?”

And that’s fantasy, Krout said: the ability to have absolute control of one’s world without the bounds of science. Realism helps: if it could happen, it’s much better. But to Krout, the most interesting books give the reader a view into the author’s uninhibited self.

“I’m a big fan of world building,” Krout said. “I try hard to make whoever is reading see exactly what I see.”

His ability to create his own world within words isn’t just a product of his busy mind. The lateral thinking involved in his UND computer programming classes helped him develop the mind for executing the ideas that float around in his head. It’s why he fell in love with computer programming after arriving at UND.

Anyone can program, Krout says. The problem is getting the logic behind it to be sound.

“Programming has definitely helped with the book. It helps with the logic of things,” Krout said. “To say, ‘here’s what I want it to do and here’s how I’m going to make it happen’ — that mindset really helps in writing and pretty much everything in life.”