by C.J. Darlington
Creston Mapes Interview
novelists are in this business to write good, clean books. But that's
not why I'm in it. I want to reconcile others to God though powerful,
grassroots stories! "
-- Creston Mapes
Talented storyteller Creston Mapes has spent the past fourteen years writing in the freelance and marketing arenas for major corporations, colleges, and ministries nationwide. A graduate of Bowling Green State University with a BA in magazine journalism, Mapes’ impressive list of clients includes Coca-Cola, TNT Sports, The Weather Channel, Focus on the Family, Bell South, and The Urban Alternative, among many others.
Mapes’ extensive work in marketing copywriting for higher education has led him to work with more than 120 colleges and universities. He also served as creative director of Walk Thru The Bible, while under the leadership of New York Times bestselling The Prayer of Jabez author Bruce Wilkinson. With an early background in newspaper reporting and photography, Mapes’ feature stories have appeared in numerous magazines including Private Colleges and Universities, In Touch, Leaders for Today, The Hockey News, and Physician.
Creston Mapes hopes to provide fiction lovers with exciting, page-turning reads that will draw them to a better understanding of God’s unconditional love. He and his wife, Patty, and their four children, make their home near Atlanta, Georgia, where they enjoy family outings, classic movies, games, and time spent together.
C.J.: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
CRESTON: Although I was interested in writing at an early age, it didn't dawn on me that I could make a living at it until college. I had a journalism advisor who freelanced for National Geographic. She convinced me and others that we could make a living writing.
How would you say your journalism career has impacted your novel writing?
My journalism background in newspaper and magazine writing has had a tremendous impact, because that kind of writing forces you to get to the point fast. You are better able to sort through all that you want to say, and pick out the juiciest detail, and start with that lead (grabber). My agent tells me my novels have a "journalistic" style . . . which I hope makes my books somewhat unique.
What kind of research did you conduct to create the character Everett Lester in your Rock Star Chronicle novels? Did you go on tour with any bands?
Growing up, I was a huge rock fan. I was backstage at a lot of concerts, large and small. Plus, I read all the rock magazines. For Dark Star, I also read books about Bob Dylan, Ozzie Osbourne and others to get a feel for life of a mega-popular rocker. Other more in-depth research included delving into the world of psychics . . . that took some time.
Let’s talk about what’s next for you novel-wise. I hear it’s a stand-alone thriller?
We're not positive if it will be stand-alone or the first in a new series. Right now the title is either BUM or NOBODY. It's a psychological thriller based in Las Vegas, where my publisher sent me for a 3-day research visit. I'm psyched about it. It has a strong spiritual message, and it's a page-turner (I think!). (Ohh . . . word's just in from my editor, the title of book three is NOBODY. . . I dig it.)
Christian fiction has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. What are your thoughts on the future of Christian fiction?
It's getting bigger and bigger. My publisher, Multnomah, just got purchased by Random House, the largest publisher in the world. These secular companies are realizing how hot Christian fiction is. So, it's a great time to be riding the wave.
Why do you think Jesus used stories to share Biblical truths?
The depth of the truth was too great for people to grasp. Many were blinded to the truth. He broke the truth down into stories people would be interested in and could relate to.
You don’t sugar-coat life in your novels. Where do you draw the line in portraying reality and violence?
I try not to sugar-coat real-life sin/violence or the gospel of Jesus Christ. In some facets, my books have needed to be toned down a little bit so they weren't too realistically violent. In other ways, they've needed to be toned down in my presentation of the gospel. I am simply a person who has been transformed by Christ. My goal in writing novels is to testify. Some novelists are in this business to write good, clean books. But that's not why I'm in it. I want to reconcile others to God though powerful, grassroots stories!
Do you ever struggle with sharing your faith in your stories?
No. That's why I write. I love God and His Word and that comes out naturally, I hope, in my novels.
Were books a big part of your life growing up? If so, what books would you say influenced you most as a child?
My mom read to me a lot, but, unfortunately, I was not a big reader on my own. My four children LOVE to read and I'm thrilled about that. I love to read now, however, and always have 4-6 books at my bedside. I don't hesitate to put one down if it doesn't grab me, and move on to the next.
As your novels convey, music can be a powerful influence in a person’s life. Could you talk about some of the bands and songs that have impacted your life?
As a youth, I was a KISS freak! I simply loved rock n roll. Other fav's were Queen, Rush, Bowie, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Michael Stanley Band, John Cougar, etc. Then, when I got saved as an adult, big influences became Amy Grant, Sandy Patti, Steve Camp, Twila Paris, NewSong, Aaron Jeoffrey, Steven Curtis Chapman, and now Casting Crowns, Third Day, David Crowder, Michael W. Smith, Jennifer Knapp, Tree63, Building 429, Pocket Full of Rocks, Jars of Clay, Mark Schultz, Randy Travis, Russ Lee, etc. That is not to say, however, that I still don't sing along when I hear John Cougar singing "Small Town"!
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
Hmm.....I married the girl I had a crush on in elementary school.
I love the rain.
If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would you pick and why?
I hope this doesn't sound over-spiritual, but my honest answer would be Christ. I mean, come on. That's a loaded question! Why? Because He's God! I don't think you could do much better than that for a dinner partner.
Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?
I really appreciate you guys taking an interest in my books and career. Thank you for that. I simply encourage TitleTrakk.com readers to give my books 3 pages. That's all. Three pages and I think I'll have them hooked.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.