Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Part II of Creston Mapes' Interview

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of writing?

CM: I’ve written professionally for more than 20 years and, after writing novels, my other freelance writing comes SO easy now. Writing comprehensive works (novels), is grueling, lonely work. It requires so much energy and time thinking about the story, even after the work day is done. I don’t like how I get distracted by that when I’m with my family in the evenings. It’s not like writing a brochure and putting it down at the end of the day. The novel stays with you as you try to figure out what’s going to happen next, and where your timelines may be messed up, etc. Some days you think you’re in the midst of writing an earth-shattering novel and other days you feel like you may just need to throw in the towel and start over. By the way, that’s one of the worst parts—chunking pages of copy you spent days on!

My favorite part of writing novels is when an idea really comes together and you realize you’ve written something very emotional, funny, touching, or potentially life-changing. That’s the sweet part. Also, to see that book in print is a pretty good high. We just received FULL TILT and it seems to make all the sweat and tears worthwhile.

DM: I’ve heard other Christian authors talk about how sometimes Christian fiction is perceived to be preachy. I’m sure that’s true sometimes. DARK STAR gives the salvation message in great detail several times in your book, yet I didn’t find it preachy at all. Of course, I’m one of the choir! What feedback have you gotten along those lines?

CM: Early, early when I was trying my hand at fiction I was accused of being way too preachy. Then something happened in my personal life where God suddenly allowed me, and my wife, to begin understanding his grace and mercy. I realized at that point that I’d been a self-righteous Christian. I thought I’d actually done something to save myself. Or, that I could somehow take credit for my belief in God. When Christ started to reveal my own total depravity, that’s when my mindset began to change. He helped me realize we needed to write a remarkably thrilling story, and have the Christian message simply rise up from the grass roots. You can’t plan it. You have to create the characters and turn them loose. Let God come up when He would naturally come up in their lives.

DM: The sequel FULL TILT is available now. Tell us a little about this new story.

CM: Everett Lester has decided to use his musical talent for God by creating a free concert tour called The Living Water tour. The problem is, Satan is not going to give up on Everett that easily. Everett’s extended family members lure him into a world of ruthless mobsters and psychotic meth users. So, while he is trying to live for God, he is being attacked by Satan physically and mentally. It is a rough road for he and his new wife. At times, he’s tempted to chuck it all and hit the bottle again.

DM: What do you believe to be the most critical factor in Everett’s new journey as a Christian? What lesson does the character learn and how will this impact your readers?

CM: Loving the unlovable. Everett and Karen are faced with the challenge of loving and embracing his brother, who is addicted to gambling, and his nephew, who is hooked on meth and hearing voices that are telling him to avenge his brother’s death by murdering Everett. How do we love people who are unlovable? The Bible says when the people were hitting Jesus and spitting on him, He said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His love is a radical love. That’s one of the main messages. The other is, there is only one way to the Father, and that is through Jesus Christ. Everett’s brother, Eddie, refuses to believe that…

DM: I understand there will be a third book in the Rock Star Chronicles. Did you develop the entire series before you wrote DARK STAR or have the characters shown you the direction the series needed to go?

CM: No. The characters have shown the direction all the way. I don’t like to plan much at all before I write. In fact, I do as little of that as my publisher will allow, because I believe we get a much more exciting, spontaneous story when we don’t plan it all out ahead of time.

DM: What’s your greatest goal in writing this series?

CM: To write thrilling books that readers do not want to put down, and to draw readers, both Christian and non-Christian, closer to Christ.

DM: Will there be a fourth book or do you have other projects in the works?

CM: Actually, here’s what’s going to happen. I’ve started book three, WAR, but it’s been put on hold. My publisher has come up with the idea that they would like me to do something totally different for my next novel. In fact, they sent me to Las Vegas on a research trip and that’s where my next novel will take place. It will be another spiritual thriller. We plan to come back and do more in The Rock Star Chronicles soon, and that could be one more book, or two or three more. I think reader demand will help us plan that. However, I think a third book may conclude that series very nicely.

DM: What words of advice and encouragement can you give to those of us striving for that ever-elusive book contract?

CM: Here it is. I know you want that contract, badly. But having that contract is not the be-all, end-all. Because, once you get the contract, there are a bunch of new hurdles you must cross. If you feel God nudging you to write novels, close the door and get to it. Set a word count that you must achieve each day and get the story down on paper. Pray God will pour out His stories through your writing. But mainly, do it to glorify Him, not to make a name for yourself or to become a millionaire. Keep the proper perspective. Don’t get too caught up in it, or in yourself. And try not to get your sense of self-worth from the good or bad things people say about your writing. You have an audience of One. Please Him and all will be well, published or not.

DM: Creston, thank you so much for this fantastic interview. (I’m putting this in because I know it will be fantastic. LOL!) I’m anxious to start FULL TILT and continue reading about Everett Lester’s continuing journey.

CM: You have been great, Dineen. Thanks for enjoying my books and for your kind words. I’ll look forward to doing this again in the future. Until then, peace out!

Be sure to check out Creston’s website and don’t miss out on this terrific series.


kc said...

Great interview, Dineen and Creston! I adored Dark Star and cannot wait to read Full Tilt.

God is going to bless your socks off, Mr. Mapes, I'm sure of it, and ours, too, through you!


Heather Diane Tipton said...

Man, Neen, you rock at this interview thing!

Creston thanks for agreeing to do this interview with Dineen. I've enjoyed it!

Jennifer Tiszai said...

Thanks, both of you, for an awesome interview. There was some terrific advice in there.

Creston said...

Hey everyone,

I'm thankful for each comment. Dineen has a great blog and I'm so glad to have hooked up. Each of you feel free to drop by my web site, leave a message, etc. Let me know if I can be of help to you.

Here's to a great weekend.


Mike Duran said...

Wonderful interview, Creston. I find it fascinating that your own personal revelation of grace impacted your fiction -- that having experienced a sense of depravity and mercy, you were more naturally able to replicate that need within your characters. Maybe what we Christian writers need is not better technique, but more insight into our real condition. Thanks Dineen, for the wonderful interview.

Pammer said...

Wonderful interview. I can't wait to get my hands on these books.

Vennessa said...

Messed up timelines? Nah, you'd never do a thing like that, Creston. ;-)

Great interview, Dineen and Creston.