YEM Author Interview: Autumn Krause chats about basing her book Before the Devil Knows You’re Here in the 1800’s.

Autumn Krause is the author of Before the Devil Knows You’re Here. Before the Devil Knows You’re Here follows Catalina who lives in 1836, Wisconsin. The novel explores a .mixture of American tall tales and Faustian elements. YEM was able to speak with Autumn about how much of her real life she put into the book, why she decided on a mixture of American tall tales and Faustian elements, and her writing process.

Young Entertainment Mag: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Autumn Krause: I’ve always known I wanted to be an author. Ever since I was little, stories filled my mind and one of my childhood preoccupations was daydreaming…or maybe I should say dayfearing—sometimes the stories I came up with scared me so much I couldn’t sleep at night. Stories have always been how I understand the world and how I escape it, for as long as I can remember. 

YEM: What inspired Before the Devil Knows You’re Here?

Autumn: I’d grown up hearing about Johnny Appleseed and always loved the idea of someone traveling far and wide, planting seeds wherever they went. But, I asked, what if Johnny wasn’t planting typical apple trees? What if his apples were poisonous? Cursed? The story grew from there! 

YEM: Did you take anything from your real life and put it into your book?

Autumn: As a triracial author, I love focusing on American history through the lens of my heritage, which is its own unique tale. My family’s history is full of hope yet also full of hardship, from struggling to find the American dream while laboring in fields after immigrating from Mexico, to being wrongfully incarcerated in Japanese American internment camps during WWII. Sometimes, I get asked what it’s like to be the child of interracial marriage, and I say I come from a long, proud line of it. And it’s true! Despite disownment and social pressures, my direct ancestors found love and family beyond racial barriers, starting with my great-great-grandparents onward.

For this story, I told it from the point of view of a Mexican-American poet, who is drawn into a surreal world full of peril. Her character is heavily inspired by my Nana, Phyllis Aratani née Comacho and my own experiences as a triracial girl in America. 

YEM: Why did you decide to base your book in the 1800’s?

Autumn: There aren’t a lot of fantasy books featuring mixed race characters during that time period, so I wanted to highlight the fact that we were very much present and part of the American story. 

Also, I love American gothic themes and that time period fits very well with them. During that time, we see a widespread Puritanical fixation on Hell, the wilderness as a place for the uncanny, literal interpretations of the Devil, and just so many other fascinating themes that still speak to us today.   

YEM: Why did you decide to mixture of American tall tales and Faustian elements?

Autumn: There are so many American folklore stories featuring encounters with the Devil so it just made perfect sense to combine them and was honestly so fun 

YEM: What was your writing process like?

Autumn: It’s fairly chaotic! I get an idea for a story, write a very brief outline, and then jump in. As I’m drafting, I continue to adjust my outline and research, all the while doing a little revision as the draft comes out. So everything happens all at once! 

YEM: What do you hope your readers take away from Before the Devil Knows You’re Here?

Autumn: We all have our own Hells to face so I hope readers leave with a sense of hope that theirs can be vanquished

YEM: Do you have any advice for those who want to become a writer?

Autumn: My advice is to remember that writing is much more about hard work than it is talent 

YEM: Who is a writer that has inspired you?

Autumn: Dostoevsky inspires me because he unflinchingly looks at life and, amid all the darkness, sees beauty therein—and somehow captures it onto the page 

YEM: What did you learn about yourself through the writing process?

Autumn: I learned that I’m a very fast-paced writer and that I need to intentionally slow down between scenes. I like to have everything out immediately in one breath! But pauses between breaths is just as important as the breaths themselves. 

YEM: Do you have a favorite scene or quote from Before the Devil Knows You’re Here?

Autumn: Chapter 15. The interaction between John and the Banker is my favorite scene 

YEM: What are you planning on writing in the future?

Autumn: My next book is contracted for 2025 and is called GRAVE FLOWERS! It’s a Hamlet meets Boleyn family fantasy and is full of ghosts, vengeance, and romance. Also, it has flower magic. I’m making up my own flower breeds for it and have just been having the best time. The flowers are beautiful….but they bite!