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Interview with Creston Mapes

Creston Mapes started out as a reporter for a small bi-weekly paper and then went on to become a city hall reporter. He admits that his novels often reflect his reporter experiences.

Reading about his new book, Fear Has a Name, especially intrigued me since it is about a pastor, and I happen to be married to one. The pastor in the book struggles with deep depression and even requires medication to control it. Personally, I think there are many ministers who suffer from depression-tendencies due to the world they must minister to and in.

Where did the idea for this book come from?
The storyline you mention above comes from my change of heart over the years on the topic of depression, especially as it relates to Christians who struggle with the sickness. Often, I don’t think people who’ve never battled depression realize how devastating it can be; how absolutely paralyzing. Christians are often the first to cast judgment, thinking anyone who struggles with depression must not be completely in-tune with God. I suppose I wanted to address the topic in my novel to show how unloving and insensitive that is. Christians should be the understanding, compassionate ones.

As for the major storyline, many years ago we experienced a home break-in while my wife was at home with our first baby. The man entered the house violently. My wife was forced to grab the baby and run next door to a neighbor’s house. Many years later, I had a dream about a man loitering around the front door of a family’s home, ready to break-in. I woke up and wrote down everything about that man. He is Granger Meade, the antagonist in Fear Has a Name. One of the interesting things about Granger is that he was unwanted by his parents and bullied as a youth. It is a timely story.

What do you hope your readers will take away from Fear Has a Name?
It is easy to say, “No matter what, God is sovereign.” It is easy to say, “All things work together for good.” But what about when the unthinkable happens? When it strikes hard and deep and turns our worlds upside down? What does that do to our faith? I actually don’t know what it would to do my faith or my relationship with God, but I wanted to explore that in this novel. Hopefully, readers will take away the thought that they need to reserve judgment and wear another person’s shoes before judging or criticizing anyone else—whether that person is a Christian or not.

Obviously, being a reporter contributed much to your writing experience. What other things have contributed to your publication journey?
When growing up, I loved rock music and partying. Later I was in a crazy fraternity and lived quite the wild life into my late twenties. I had an all-American upbringing in northeastern Ohio, with a strong family and good friends. I’ve had some great jobs as a journalist, including interviewing many of today’s top recording artists for magazine stories. I’m also a book-lover and movie-lover. I think all of this has contributed to my novels, which I consider contemporary thrillers (that’s the kind I like to read).

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Oh man. What many people don’t realize is that there is so much more to being an author than just writing. If it were just writing, it would be easy. There is planning, editing, organizing, promoting, networking, marketing, and more promoting. It is a full-time job.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
The underlying premise within each of my novels has offered a direct reflection of where I was spiritually at the time of the writing. I guess it’s my way of telling the world what God is showing me now. I’ve always loved this one verse and considered it my career/novel writing verse: “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)

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
One of two days. Either the day I received a call from my first agent, advising to sit down, then telling me we had landed a 3-book contract. Or the day I received my first published book in the mail. Both of those were show-stoppers and brought tears.

Who/What spurs you to write?
That’s difficult to explain. Life would be much simpler if I didn’t write fiction. I have a good freelance business that has served me well for many years, and it is very difficult to do both. Something calls me to write fiction. A funny story…after I finished my first three books and we hadn’t made a lot of money, I got back to my freelance business and started making some good income again. Then I told my wife, “I think I’m getting signs to write another novel.” She said, “Are they dollar signs?”

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I write the type of novels that appeal to me and that’s the kind you pick up and are sucked into from the first paragraph. They have characters you root for and believe in, and some characters you come to despise. There are always at least two major struggles going on simultaneously. The description in my books is concise, but clear. Everything written is new (I try hard not to rehash anything) and keeps the story moving forward, and contributes to the premise. The books are full of tension and the unexpected.

Any parting words?
If you are a writer, be patient, keep learning, and take out all the boring parts!

Thanks for sharing with us, Creston Mapes!
My pleasure.

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