Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rockstars, Homeless Millionaires and my fellowship date with Creston Mapes

Acclaimed suspense thriller author, Creston Mapes is my friend and write-or-die bro. Praise Jesus! With three books under his belt, he stepped away from his busy schedule and darling family to chat with me about rock stars, homeless millionaires and scheduling our next writing date.

Dee: Why release another novel before the end of the Rock Star?

Creston: How do you know it's not the end of The Rock Star Chronicles?...Just kidding, you're right, Dee. One more book needs to be written in that series. Actually, I have 3 chapters written. However, my publisher wanted to broaden our readership with this, the 3rd book in my contract with them. They thought the "rock star" stories and covers may be limiting our readership to young audiences.

The fact is, I was not writing to young people. The covers of Dark Star and Full Tilt may look like they have "youth" appeal, but they are written for all ages, and we've heard from fans of all ages--so that's cool.

Dee: Why a detective novel?

I didn't set out to write a "detective novel," per se. Since I worked as a newspaper reporter, that business has always intrigued me. I set out to write a fast-paced thriller about a confused newspaper man, and we ended up with Nobody....which, as you say, is kind of a "detective," "mystery." I guess I've come to like to call it a psychological thriller. I've always loved the newspaper business, the daily beat of a reporter, and all the power and thrill those guys have. It was a fun book to write. My
buddy, author Mark Mynheir (The Void), says he really feels like I found a good "voice" in this new book....the voice of the reporter, Hudson Ambrose. So far other readers and reviewers are agreeing and I'm thrilled with that.

Dee: Favorite sleuth?

Creston: Cigar....Raincoat....Columbo, of course.

Dee: Why Las Vegas?

Creston: Actually, my publisher suggested Las Vegas as the backdrop for this story. They really wanted to open up the doors to broaden awareness about my stories/books, and they thought Vegas would be a good draw.

Dee: How did Multnomah support you building this book?
Creston: Incredibly so. In fact, members of the fiction team and I brainstormed about this story before I went to Vegas. When I told them I had an idea about a homeless man, they said, "No way! One of the guys on the fiction team had the same thought." That was when it kind of clicked that this may be a good story. When you think of Vegas you think of poshness, elegance, luxury...but there is also the other end of the spectrum: 10,000 homeless peo
ple in Vegas, most within 1 miles of the Strip. However, the police don't allow the homeless to loiter around the ritzy section because it's not good for tourism.

Dee: Why this kind of murder?

Creston: The kind of murder it was didn't really matter. What mattered was, a homeless man -- who was RICH -- is now dead. And a confused reporter must find out how he died? Why was he rich yet living on the streets of Vegas as a homeless man? Why did many in the homeless community think he was an angel in disguise?

Dee: Why is Hudson the best man to solve this mystery?

Creston: Hudson is kind of a hard core guy. He has a nose for news. He is a great investigative reporter. He has a ton of nerve. And when he meets up with the lovely Holly Queens, well, nothing can stop him!

Dee: Why Atlanta's involvement?

Creston: I like to write about places I've been. Of course, I've lived in Atlanta for 20 years. Most always, I write about cities and towns I've actually been to. However, in the Rock Star Chronicles, the main female character, Karen Bayliss, was from Topeka, KS. I did a ton of research on Topeka. Was even able to do a 360 degree tour of the town on the Web. One girl at my publisher, whose hometown was Topeka, said, "I'm dying to know, have you been to Topeka? You must have. It was described so well!" Good research pays off!

Dee: Do
you believe in angels?

Yes, because the Bible says there are angels! Some we entertain without even knowing it! Think about that as you curl up and read NOBODY!

Holly Queens? Why is than name perfect for this character?

Creston: Man, that is a tough one, Dee. I'm going to have to come back to it.

Okay, I'm back....Holly is a lovely young lady who cherished her friendship with the homeless man, Chester Holte. When she finds out he's been murdered, she's determined to help Hudson Ambrose track down the killer. And she wins Hudson's heart at the same time! Does that answer it?

Dee: Why "Nobody" as a title?
Creston: We messed with a lot of titles, but ended up with Nobody, because people often view homeless people as Nobodies. The back cover reads: "They said he was a Nobody...They were dead wrong." Hudson gave himself up as "nothing" to
serve others. So, in the worlds eyes, he may have been a nobody. But in God's eyes, he was an angel and a saint. Someone who laid down his life for others....literally (hint, hint!)

Dee: Will we meet Hudson again?
I don't think so. Of course, the book is doing well, so there's a chance the publisher could ask for a sequel. That could happen some day. But I enjoy writing stand-alones. And I've started work on a new stand-alone novel that FEELS like the book I was meant to write!

Dee: Why the poem, "I Stand at the Door" at the beginning of this book?
Creston: This poem was shared with me by Jud
Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian Church in Henderson, NV, just outside of Las Vegas. I was out there researching the book when Jud and I met. His church's theme is "reaching people who are far from God." The poem, a favorite of his, was written by Samuel Shoemaker, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. It's a beautiful poem about Christians getting SO far steeped in the church and its tradition, that we forget about the people outside the doors of the church. When Jud shared that poem with me, I knew it would be the theme for the book. Sam Shoemaker is long gone, but one of his daughter's gave us permission to run the poem at the front of the book.
Dee: Do all your stories have to have a message?
Yes they do, Dee, and here's why. I wrote professionally for many years before my work stopped and God nudged me to try fiction. Writing fiction is a ministry for me. It's very difficult, time consuming, fatiguing work. What I'm saying is, I can make a MUCH easier living doing my freelance writing, but God has called me to this. Here is the scripture God's placed on my heart as it relates to writing fiction:
"What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear
whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops."

-- Matthew 10: 27 --

Dee: Do you think Christian Fiction has an obligation to?
Creston: Hmm. If you're going to call it "Christian fiction" and it's part of the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA), then I would think it should have a Christian message. In fact, if it doesn't, why not just go American Booksellers Association (ABA)?

Here's the thing, I get a little frustrated with supposedly "Christian fiction" books that don't have any Christ-oriented message. I mean, if it's just a good clean book, that's great, I love those....but why put it in the CBA and call it "Christian fiction." In fact, wouldn't the author of such rather have his/her book in the ABA?

The other thing is, just because I say it should have a Christian message, I don't mean preachy and I don't mean hit the reader over the head with a King James. There are clever ways to let the Christian message rise up from the grass roots of the story.

Relating back to the question , speaking for me, my books will always have an element that seeks to draw the reader closer to Christ. That is why I write fiction. To testify, through story, the transformation and new birth that is available only thru Christ. Book writing is too difficult to do for any other reason.

Dee: Theme before story?
Creston: This time, yes, but not always. The theme arose out of the poem Jud shared with me, I Stand By the Door. With me, theme doesn't always come before story. I'm more of a seat of the pants, day at a time writer.
Dee: Advice for male writers?
Male and female: Treat your fiction writing like driving a long-haul truck....slam the door and get busy. (paraphrased from, I believe, Stephen King.

Dee: What's next for Creston?
I've started work on a 4th suspense thriller. This will be the book that I actually started writing almost 10 years ago. I thought it was time for that book back then, but it wasn't. Kind of like when Moses went to rescue his fellow Jews
.....but it wasn't time yet. So he went into the wilderness all those years, and God called him at the burning bush. That's what I feel like. This 4th's time has come. I am going to write it with a lot of prayer and zeal. And I am excited about what God is going to do with it. First, however, I hope to see Him set the stage for it with big sales of NOBODY and, in turn, more sales of Dark Star and Full Tilt!

Dee: When are we going to hang out again?
You tell me the next WORD meeting you're going to and I'll try to make it. If not then, how about coffee at Jittery Joes in Buford?

Dee: Oh, your interviewing the interviewing now? Ha! Cool, Word or Jitter Joes at month's end. :)

Creston: Thanks a million, Dee.

If readers want signed copies of NOBODY, they can get them at SignedByTheAuthor.Com.
The books are also available in stores and online outlets everywhere! Bless ya. (check out the new tunes).

You can also chat with Creston tonight at
5 p.m. (E.S.T.) THE VIRTUAL PEW LIVE Listen live online at: CLICK HERE TO LISTEN LIVE


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