Craig Lancaster, a Montana-based novelist, writes stories set in the contemporary American West.
"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 when I was a kid," he says. "It was such a vast, beautiful, overwhelming place. From the first time I saw Montana, I wanted to be a part of it."
A couple of years after Lancaster's arrival in the Big Sky State in his mid-30s, he began chasing a long-held dream of writing novels. His debut, "600 Hours of Edward," was first released in 2009 and went on to be selected as a Montana Honor Book and a High Plains Book Award winner. In 2012, it was acquired by Lake Union Publishing and re-released, gaining a whole new cadre of fans.
His follow-up, "The Summer Son," was released in January 2011 by Lake Union Publishing, 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 Utah Book Award finalist.
Next came "Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure," a collection of short fiction, including pieces Lancaster originally published in Montana Quarterly magazine. That book, released by Missouri Breaks Press, came out in December 2011 and was a 2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards gold medalist and High Plains Book Award finalist.
In April 2013, Edward Stanton, the main character in Lancaster's debut novel, returned in "Edward Adrift," also published by Lake Union Publishing. This book, too, was widely hailed, with veteran Montana journalist David Crisp noting that "with remarkable speed, Mr. Lancaster has made himself into one of Montana's most important writers."
"The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter," about the dysfunctional relationship between a washed-up boxer and the sportswriter who has covered him for 20 years, will be published in Fall 2014, also by Lake Union Publishing.
Lancaster's work, hailed for its character-driven narratives, delves deeply below the surface, getting at the grit and the glory of lives ordinary and extraordinary.
"It's all too easy to turn people into caricatures, but the truth is, we humans are pretty damned fascinating," Lancaster 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."