In the interview, Katrovas reflects on his childhood, which is discussed in-depth in the new book.
I grew up on the road. My father, through the fifties and into the sixties, kited checks and scammed car dealers. He was wanted in forty-seven states when he was finally caught. I’m the oldest of five, all born over the course of our parents’ protracted road trip. My family lived on welfare both times my father was incarcerated in federal prisons (five-to-ten out in three), the second time in the Norfolk, Virginia, federal housing projects. I was adopted into a navy family in my early teens, moved to Sasebo, Japan, where I earned a second-degree black belt in Sho-bu-kan Okinawa-te. I put myself through college primarily by teaching karate and working in restaurants. I graduated from San Diego State University, and then attended the University of Virginia on a Hoyns fellowship. I subsequently attended the MFA program at the University of Arkansas for two years, but graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop. I taught for twenty years at the University of New Orleans, taking early retirement in 2002. I’ve taught for twelve years at Western Michigan University. I’m the founding director of the Prague Summer Program, which is going into its twenty-second year. I witnessed Prague’s Velvet Revolution on a Fulbright fellowship in 1989. I have three Czech-American daughters. My oldest, Ema, twenty-four, is an opera singer in Europe.
In addition, he talks about his relationship with the state of Michigan, where snowmobile use is now permissible, though state trails on private property remain closed until Dec. 1.
Katrovas’ essay “My Transvestite,” included in the book, was recently nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize.
Read the full interview here.