When Craig Lancaster moved to Montana in 2006, at the age of 36, it was the realization of a dream he’d harbored since childhood, one that he figured had been overtaken by events, as so many dreams are.
“I have these incredibly vivid memories of visiting Montana with my folks on family vacations, and following my dad, an itinerant laborer who worked in the oil and gas fields of the West when I was a kid,” Lancaster says. “It was such a vast, beautiful, overwhelming place. From the first time I saw Montana, I wanted to be a part of it.”
Craig was born on February 9th, 1970, in Lakewood, Washington. Adopted at birth, he grew up in suburban Fort Worth, Texas, with his mother and stepfather and siblings. His stepfather, Charles Clines, was a longtime sportswriter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a connection that led to Craig’s career as a journalist, a profession he followed to a series of newspaper jobs across the country — Texas, Alaska, Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, California and, finally, Montana.
A couple of years after Craig’s arrival in the Big Sky State, he began chasing another long-held dream: that of writing novels. His first completed novel, 600 Hours of Edward, was born in the crucible of National Novel Writing Month, that every-November free-for-all of furious writing. He completed an entire first draft, nearly 80,000 words, in November 2008. In October 2009, it was published by Riverbend Publishing of Helena, Montana, and has since gone on to be selected as a Montana Honor Book and a High Plains Book Award winner.
His follow-up, The Summer Son, was released in January 2011 by AmazonEncore, to similar acclaim. Booklist called the new novel “a classic western tale of rough lives and gruff, dangerous men, of innocence betrayed and long, stumbling journeys to love.” It was a fiction finalist in the Utah Book Awards. And his short-story collection, Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure, won an Independent Publishers Book Award gold medal and is a High Plains Book Award finalist.
Lancaster’s work delves deeply below the surface of its characters, teasing out the desires and motivations that lead us through our lives.
“It’s all too easy to turn people into caricatures, but the truth is, we humans are pretty damned fascinating,” he says. “For me, fiction is a way at getting at truth. I use it to examine the world around me, the things that disturb me, the questions I have about life — whether my own or someone else’s. My hope is that someone reading my work will have their own emotional experience and bring their own thoughts to what they read on the page. When I’m asked what my stories mean, my inclination is turn the question around: What do they mean to you?”
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