Craig Lancaster’s road to becoming a published novelist was, like that of many authors, a bit rocky. But the rocks weren’t nearly so tough to deal with as the deer.
“I crashed a motorcycle at 60 miles per hour on the interstate in July 2008 after a buck jumped out on me,” Lancaster says. “Broken ribs, road rash, collapsed lung. It was a mess.”
A couple of months later, as Lancaster wound down his recuperation, a friend asked him to make a run at National Novel Writing Month, the annual 30-day dash in which writers are challenged to put down at least 50,000 words. It’s something Lancaster had attempted before but had never seen through.
“I was reluctant to do it again,” he says. “I was still in a bit of pain, and I didn’t really want to do anything that would lead to more disappointment.
“But the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. If you have a traumatic injury and make it through, you can’t help but think about the things you’ve always wanted to do and haven’t, for whatever reason. So I took the chance.”
The results exceeded his expectations – and exceeded the requirements of the event known as NaNoWriMo. Lancaster wrote nearly 80,000 words in the first 24 days of November 2008, laying the foundation of what would become his debut novel, 600 HOURS OF EDWARD. The story centers on a middle-aged man, Edward Stanton, who has Asperger’s syndrome and obsessive-compulsive
disorder and has settled into a life largely devoid of human contact. In 25 days one autumn – 600 hours – the world he has kept at bay crashes onto his front step and forces him to deal with the fallout.
Riverbend Publishing of Helena, Montana, released the book in October 2009, to critical acclaim. New York Times bestselling author Gregg Olsen hailed the book, saying, “Funny and quirky, Lancaster’s compulsively readable debut has a heart as big as the Montana sky.” Readers who have peeked into Edward’s meticulously kept world have fallen in love with the character and the changes that come – not just with him, but with the people around him.
For Lancaster, who lives in Billings, Montana, with his wife, Angie, and two rambunctious dachshunds, 600 HOURS OF EDWARD wrenched open a whole new world. The longtime journalist is hard at work on new fiction projects, all of them intensely character-driven. And all because a deer ruined a summer day’s ride.
“It sounds cliché, but it’s not: Crushing disappointment has a way of leading to things you didn’t expect,” Lancaster says. “It’s part of the human experience. I want to explore that as deeply as I can.”
Where to find Craig Lancaster online
Where to buy in print
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