Interview | William Kerig

Local author William Kerig will be signing at the downtown Library, 210 E. 400 S., on Friday, October 17 at 7 p.m. The Edge of Never is not only a ripping adventure tale about a young man coming of age but a frank and subtle portrait of the extreme skiers who “live big” in the face of death and risk everything to experience the fullness of life in the mountains. Nearly a decade after his father’s death on the slopes, fifteen-year-old Kye Petersen, a rising star in his own right, traveled to Chamonix to ski the run that took his father’s life and, with the aid of some of the world’s greatest ski mountaineers, to become a member of skiing’s big-mountain tribe.

TKE: Your personal background as a former pro-skier brought you to this amazing story. What was your worst moment as a skier? Your best?

WK: All my worst moments on skis have to do with my friends getting hurt. You’re tearing down the mountainside in a riot of infinite possibility and suddenly everything stops and the future implodes. It’s a sickening feeling.

Best moment: I have two.

1. I’m snowplowing down the hill iwth my two-year-old daughter between my legs and as I let her hands go, she pulls away from me and begins to ski by herself. She doesn’t look back until the hill runs out.
2. When the same moment happened with my son.

TKE: Edge of Never is also a documentary film; was the transition from film to book difficult? Is there a lot of overlap in the two, or do you feel like they cover different things? [Editor’s Note: The Edge of Never is a documentary film in progress. It will be out one year from now. The film that came out earlier this year is Steep.]

WK: Actually the transition from film to book is not difficult at all. We had many cameras rolling on the documentary film, which created a great deal of rich material. I transcribed more than 50 tapes myself, which really helped me understand the characters, their dialogue, and their situations in a way that only a video editor can completely understand. There’s a one-way intimacy that you get when you watch or listen to someone up close, for hours and hours on end, that really helps you write them. Also, there are just the mechanics of writing a nonfiction book that are greatly aided by having video tape of the subjects and events. If I needed a little more in a description, I could just go back to the tape and really watch it and feel it and then write it.

TKE: Favorite author/book and why?

WK: Hmmmm. All-time favorite: F. Scott Fitzgerald. Book: The Great Gatsby.

I identify with his narrator, Nick Carraway. Like Nick, I’m a very average person who’s come to know fascinating people who find me useful for my ability to hold up a mirror so they can see themselves. And of course, in looking so deeply into other people, I discover a mirror that shows me things about myself.

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