Received
Mapes
interview


    Last year I sat too much, ate too much . . . So, I’m lookin’ over my list of resolutions and I’m ready for a
    change!
    1. Exercise
    2. Exercise
    3. Exercise
    4. Quit procrastinating
    5. and . . . Exercise!

    Bill enters as I’m dusting off the weight bench. “I think next year your resolution should be not to have a
    resolution. Besides, why am I getting roped into this?”
    “Because . . . we like to do things together?”
    “That’s true!”
    “Besides, we only have five months to get in shape . . . for the beach!”
    “Beach? It’s January.” Hubby lifts up a dumbbell and groans. “How about some virtual exercise?”
    “One ugh . . . two ugh! What?”
    “We could take a virtual bike ride or a jog? The football game’s on; think I’ll sprint to the living room!”
    “Virtual only works for the interviews. Get back here!”
    “Where we headed? You can exercise when we get back!”
    “Three UGH. Good idea! Georgia. I’ve got an interview with Creston Mapes, who’s undoubtedly an M.V.P.
    when it comes to inspirational fiction.”


                                                                       ***
    We found Creston writing from his suburban home office in Buford, Georgia, which is about thirty miles
    northeast of Atlanta. Just outside the window are two birdfeeders, and beyond those, a flower garden and
    wide backyard, where Creston spends a lot of time with his four children and large yellow lab, Jarod. A
    screened porch and patio are perfect for an interview, a nice writing environment, and being a “back-porch
    writer,” I feel right at home.

    Valerie: The title of your book simply says Nobody, precise and to the point. At what phase of writing this
    story did you come up with the name? And did you immediately feel it would be perfect for your novel?

    Creston: As with each of my novels, my publisher ended up working with my agent and me on the “best”
    final title. For Nobody, I did not have a very good working title, nothing I felt hit the mark. The fiction team
    at Multnomah came up with something like He Was a Nobody, and I decided we should just shorten it to
    one word. We all liked Nobody immediately.

    Valerie: Economic times are rough right now; unemployment is on the rise. How were you able to relate to
    homeless character Chester Holte while having a roof overhead?

    Creston: The closest way I could relate to Chester was that I, too, was once deeply involved in a church,
    leading as an elder, spending a great deal of time serving there. Chester did the same after he got saved.
    However, when burnout set it, Chester realized that his shallow union with God was built almost solely on
    his works. Chester was a man pleaser, and it took him a long while and some heartache to realize that the
    depth of his relationship with Christ was minimal. The same thing happened to me. So I could totally relate
    to Chester when his eyes were finally opened and he realized that he wanted to be more involved in the lives
    of people outside the church (not solely within the doors of the church). Of course, I did not go to live and
    love among the homeless as Chester did. But having Chester’s character in mind, I did spend three days in
    Las Vegas touring the homeless community, which gave me a realistic view of what his life may have been
    like. I toured free clinics, soup kitchens, and dry canyon basins where the homeless sleep. It was quite an
    experience. Again, thanks to Multnomah for sending me.

    Valerie: What ultimately gave you the confidence to make writing your career?

    Creston: I was not a good student at any level of school, and creative writing was the only thing that ever
    came naturally for me. I studied magazine journalism at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. It was there
    I met advisor-professor Barbara Austin, who was a freelance writer for National Geographic. She had us
    writing in-depth magazine stories and submitting them for publication. It was under her leadership and
    guidance that I learned I could make a living as a writer. [Side note: I can’t find Barbara anywhere. I’ve
    searched the Internet to no end. If anyone knows where I can find her, I’d like to make contact.] I went
    from newspaper reporter to corporate copywriter to freelance marketing writer to novelist. After writing
    three novels in three years, I have gone back to my freelance writing to bring in some regular income, and
    hope to write a fourth novel soon. I have several ideas that I have started and need to pick one and pursue it.
    I’m even tossing around an idea for a nonfiction work.

    Valerie: You are blessed . . . and now a new year is upon us. Where is your primary focus for 2009?

    Creston: Primary focus for 2009 is to continue to have my mind renewed by Christ and God’s Word. I got
    all caught up in the novel writing as I was fulfilling my three-book contract. I think the whole being
    published thing kind of consumed me. But time, and mercy, and lack of a NY Times Bestseller have cured
    me of that. I feel very good about where I am right now, because I’ve kind of come back down to reality
    and realized I need to be doing my freelance marketing copywriting to make a steady income, and if God
    wants me to write another novel, He will need to give me the idea, incentive, inspiration, and time to do so.
    The only reason I started writing fiction was to share Christ’s transforming power with others . . . to give
    Christian-fiction lovers a gritty, contemporary, suspenseful read, one which they could then pass along to
    their unsaved friends, neighbors, and family. I feel very good about being off the treadmill of feeling I had to
    produce a book every nine months or year (which is what publishers want). My desire is to write a
    remarkably powerful and unique novel. If that is God’s desire, then he will see that it comes to pass, find a
    publisher for it, and rock the world with that story. I still pray that my first three books will become best
    sellers and motion pictures.

    Valerie: You married your childhood sweetheart and have celebrated over twenty years together. What are
    the key ingredients for a successful marriage?

    Creston: Patty and I were in fourth and sixth grades together—from the same small town in northeast Ohio
    (Bath/Fairlawn/Akron). We celebrated our twenty-fourth wedding anniversary in December. We have four
    children: a freshman in college, and a thirteen-, twelve-, and eight-year-old. I think the key, long-term
    ingredient for us has been for each of us to remain in God’s Word over the years. Certainly, rocky times
    and dry
    seasons do come. But to continue to go back to the well of God’s Word each day and give Him the
    opportunity to speak to us and change us . . . that is where I believe you get the supernatural grace to find
    peace and humility and wisdom and strength. Also, we try to go on “dates” as often as possible (the kids
    love making mac & cheese and letting us go out). Finding time to talk and listen to each other is also key.

    Valerie: Are any of your four children following in your footsteps?

    Creston: All four of our children love to read. The older ones have proven they are great writers, but none
    of them seem to have a passion for it yet. They are all very creative. It’s amazing and interesting to see how
    each of them has special “gifts” that they tap into more and more as the years go by. I’ve offered to
    collaborate with each of them on novels . . . we’ll see what happens. My oldest, Abigail, did have a lot to do
    with some of the twists and turns in Dark Star.

    Valerie: Would you be more apt to give them the positive or the negative side to whatever their “grown-up”
    dreams may be?

    Creston: More so than positive or negative, we just try to be realistic and helpful as the kids contemplate
    and dream about their futures. All six of us have seen how intimately God works. He gave me a dream to
    write fiction. I received more than a hundred rejections over five years before a publisher believed in me.
    Our kids have seen God move in intimate and mighty ways. They know if they get in stride with His plan,
    they will be able to bear much good fruit for Christ.

    Valerie: You’ve been published in magazines, authored a number of books, and due to your expertise
    spoken to various groups. Are your seminars always about writing and publishing?

    Creston: When I speak, it is usually about fiction writing—so many people say they want to write books!
    However, I’ve also spoken a number of times about making a living as a writer, which encompasses
    newspaper and magazine writing, freelance marketing, writing novels, and ghostwriting nonfiction books,
    etc.

    Valerie: Do you have any spiritual seminars or programs you have incorporated into your repertoire?

    Creston: The whole premise for my writing fiction relates back to my wild, rebellious years as a youth and
    young adult. As a teen I wore a T-shirt with a skull and crossbones that read: SWORN TO FUN, LOYAL
    TO NONE. I began drinking, smoking, and experimenting with drugs at a young age. So, these stories
    absolutely come out almost whenever I speak. Because that old Creston Mapes is now dead and I am a new
    creature . . . that’s why I write fiction: to show the transforming power of God as it rises up through the
    grassroots of an intense story. And my stories are realistic, because I know what it’s like to still be tempted
    and tried, even as a believer. I find that when I tell people (during teaching opportunities) stories about my
    past with realism and humor and thankfulness, people are really drawn in. I love sharing my testimony and
    having it cause others to want the same in their lives. That’s why I wrote Dark Star and Full Tilt, about a
    drug-addicted rock star . . . because I could relate with that whole scene.

    Valerie: Speaking of seminars, have you ever considered Marriage and Family a man’s point of view? (A
    discussion for couples, or anyone wanting some help or direction?)

    Creston: I’ve appeared on one Atlanta TV show several times to talk about my books, and the lady keeps
    saying she wants to bring me back with my wife to discuss our marriage, but my wife will have nothing to
    do with it! I should point out we really don’t/can’t take credit for our good marriage. It’s only by God’s
    favor and mercy that we have had so many good years together. We pray He will help us finish our time
    here on earth strong.

    Valerie: I think living in the South is great! How would you describe life as a Southerner? (Go ahead . . .
    tell us ’bout them DAWGS.)

    Creston: Being “Yankees” from the wonderful Northcoast (Lake Erie, that is), we found it interesting and
    challenging to come South. Of course, Atlanta has so many “transplants” that many native Georgians don’t
    consider Atlanta the true South. We’ve lived in northeast Atlanta for twenty-three years. Although we miss a
    more distinct change of seasons and a bit more snow, we have come to enjoy many things about the South:
    cornbread stuffing at Thanksgiving, The Varsity, Coke (always Coke), the Dawgs and the Rambling Wreck
    (we have fans of each at our house), The Blue Willow (world’s best home cooking in Social Circle,
    Georgia), Gwinnett Gladiators hockey, being close to the beach and mountains, sunny days year round
    (Akron, Ohio, is overcast much of the winter, six to seven long months).

    Valerie: I totally agree. I came from Long Island and the winter season always seemed the longest. You
    have been asked many questions during your career, but I was wondering if you would like to share one
    thing with your fans that you haven’t been asked but think they would enjoy hearing about.

    Creston: Two things readers may like to hear about. First, my whole family knows that whenever we are
    out and about town and see something unusual or intriguing, Daddy is going to file it away for a “book
    idea.” This has become a family “saying” around our house and becomes quite humorous at times. The
    people I hang with know they need to be careful about what they say and do because it may end up in a
    book.

    Next, fans may find it funny that I have a part-time job at the fabulous Arena at Gwinnett Center here in
    Atlanta. The Arena seats 11,355 and plays host to some outstanding concerts and events (home of the above
    mentioned beloved Gladiators ECHL hockey team). Anyway, I can pretty much choose the events I work.
    The staff is great. Very professional, yet fun. I do security and ushering. It provides a really nice
    hobby/outlet for me. So, if you ever go to an event at the arena, watch for me (in one of the yellow security
    jackets) . . . many good book ideas are percolating as a result of this job!

    Valerie: Will do! And, Creston, thank you. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and I hope this will be a great
    year for you, filled with only a modicum of challenges, an abundance of rewards, and the faith to follow in
    God’s plan.

    God bless.

    Happy New Year!


Valerie Anne Faulkner
interviews Creston Mapes
for
Christian Fiction On-line Magazine, January 2009
Creston Mapes
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