Thursday, March 23, 2006

Q&A: CRESTON MAPES, PT 2


Continuing our replay of last November's three-part Q&A with suspense novelist Creston Mapes, author of the thrillers Dark Star and the brand-new Full Tilt (Multnomah Publishers). Today, he shares his writing habits, and why he's cautious about expecting too much too quickly from his career as a novelist ...

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Part Two.

How many books do you read a month?
Some months, one. Other months, four. Most recently, I finished Chris Well's book (Forgiving Solomon Long) in about three days and then proceeded to fly through two novels by my Multmomah friends, Mark Mynheir (Rolling Thunder) and Melanie Wells (When the Day of Evil Comes). All great books.


What are your writing habits?
I do best when I've had an early morning walk and some quiet time with the Lord. Then, I dig in at 8 or 8:30. My creativity is best early. So, as the day goes on, I slow down. Usually, I try to set goals for myself. If I can hit 2,000 words a day I feel very good.


Are you an "outline" writer or a "make it up as you go" writer?
Definitely, hands down, make it up on the fly. I don't like writing to an outline. And I don't even like thinking very far ahead about what's going to happen. In fact, I can't!

If I try to write a synopsis of what's going to happen in the whole book, I'm stumped. I prefer creating some characters, getting the ball rolling, and seeing how these unique characters will react to various circumstances.


What is a favorite memory from your childhood?
I grew up in Akron, Ohio—near Cleveland. When we were young, my dad took my brother and I to the Browns' games. We would get there early and meet the players on the Browns, and on visiting teams. I distinctly remember meeting players from my brother's favorite team, the Steelers, and my favorite team, the Raiders.

I cherish the thoughts of a warm, loving home. It was a safe place with a lot of laughter. My dad had a century-old early American furniture store and we lived upstairs. Across the street was a pharmacy with any candy you could imagine. We could take a dime over there and suck on candy for days.


Are you a full-time novelist?
No. Right now I've been asked to do a book a year for Multnomah, for three years.


What is your day job?
I've been a writer my entire professional career. I started in newspapers, then got into corporate writing. I've been freelancing for 15 years and currently write magazine stories (see "non-fiction" link on my Web site for stories about Casting Crowns, Third Day, David Crowder, Louie Giglio, Randy Travis, etc), and marketing copy for colleges and ministries across the country.


When did you know you had "made it"?
It's a great question and one I find myself thinking about often lately. When you get a three-book contract you automatically think, "I'm going right to the top." But making a living as an author usually takes time, if it ever happens at all.

I've turned down quite a bit of free-lance work to stay busy on the books. And Dark Star has done well so far, selling close to 16,000 into stores in four months. But, at the good advice of my agent and others, I'm moving cautiously into this field. I have four children and a lovely wife, for whom I need to provide.

For now, my plan is to write books from 8 a.m.-Noon, and write my other freelance copy the rest of the day. That sounds great, but it's not that easy. When you have a book deadline staring you in the face, sometimes you just have to bury yourself in that project for days and weeks. At those times, I have to turn down other work. It really is a step of faith.

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Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of our Q&A. In the meantime, visit Creston online at www.crestonmapes.com and at his publisher's site at fiction.mpbooks.com.

Related links:
CRESTON MAPES, PT 1
CRESTON MAPES, PT 3
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