Programmer pens second book in fantasy series

Latest work by UND Computer Science student Dakota Krout has spent weeks atop genre lists on Amazon

Dakota Krout

Dakota Krout poses with an electronic version of one of his fantasy genre novels, “Dungeon Born.” Photo by Jackie Lorentz.

Lots of people dream about writing a book. Dakota Krout has done it. Twice.

The computer science senior recently released Dungeon Madness: The Divine Dungeon Book Two, which has been tops in Amazon’s fantasy category for several weeks. With more than 260 reviews, it’s consistently been earning five stars.

“I’m so happy that people like it,” said Krout, who said he writes what he likes to read. “I love the reactions I’m getting.”

Krout’s first book, Dungeon Born: The Divine Dungeon, released last October, was also a bestseller in the fantasy category.

The main “character” in his books is a dungeon, which adventurers must navigate to become stronger or perish.

“It’s man vs. environment in reverse,” Krout said, adding that his work includes the classic themes of greed, risk and reward. He loves puns, and they have a starring role in his books. His wife, Danielle, and other family members have cameos.

The books are popular around the world, especially Finland and Australia. “The book is pirated frequently in Russia,” Krout said, “but at least that means people want to read the story.” He promotes his books on social media, especially FaceBook, Reddit, and Imgur, a joke and photo sharing site.

Writing as hobby

Krout works full time as a programmer for Acme Tools Corp. in addition to being a student, and said he writes as a hobby.

“I don’t like television or games,” he said. “I like to read and write and hang out with my wife.” He said he tried other hobbies, such as music and art, but it was writing that clicked. And it will continue to be a hobby, Krout said.

“I make sure to have a full-time job,” he said. “I want to keep a balance, and writing is for fun.”

Krout’s programming background is useful when he develops plots.

“I have a predetermined route — the story goes from point A to B to C,” Krout said. “And if that doesn’t make sense, I write it anyway and let it backfire for the characters.”

Writing a second book was both easier and harder, Krout said: “I had already developed my writing style and was able to better create dialogue and flow. It was harder because I wrote the first book for myself, and the second book because there was so much interest from the fans.”

Fellowship of authors

One thing that has most surprised Krout is the fellowship he’s found among other authors.

“I reached out to other authors online and asked for tips,” Krout said. “We talk about writing, dialogue, developing characters. It’s cool to get different viewpoints on how to do things. What’s most interesting is that the really popular authors in my genre are some of the nicest.”

“I was surprised by how tight-knit the writing community is,” Krout said. He talks to his favorite authors regularly, and has been invited to take part in charity events. His work will soon appear in a compendium of short stories to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.

Krout said he will continue writing, and his next book will likely be released at the end of the year. He is also writing two other series.

“I’ll write the books to their logical conclusion,” he said. “I don’t want to force a series or drag it out.”

“I write for myself and because I enjoy it,” Krout said. He added that he’d love to see others publish their work.

“I’d love to see more books out there,” Krout said. “Write for yourself and don’t try to make a hit. Write what you enjoy, and others will enjoy it, too.”