After studying magazine journalism at Bowling Green State University in Kentucky, Creston began his writing career, first in journalism and later in fiction. His early years as a reporter inspire many of his novels.
A native of Bath, Ohio, Creston met his future wife back in the fourth grade. They now reside in Atlanta.
What sparked your jump from journalism to writing novels? How does your faith play into your work?
Actually I went from journalism to corporate copywriting first, and I did that because I was given a great opportunity to move from Ohio to Atlanta. The pay was better and I received excellent training from a creative director who was himself a fine writer. That transitioned me from news writing to marketing copywriting.
It was after I had been a freelance writer for a number of years that my work stopped and I got the big idea to try fiction. The whole reason I wrote my first book was to share the transforming power of Christ through gritty, contemporary stories and characters. That’s always been the goal.
Each of my six novels has reflected where I am spiritually, so a lot of heart, soul and emotion goes into the pages of each manuscript. I try to create Christian characters and non-Christian characters who act and react as they would in real life. Sometimes that can be ugly, but it is true to life.
I’m almost 53 and have been a Christian since age 28. A lot changes as you walk with God and journey through time and space. Life is not easy. Being a Christian is not easy. Being married isn’t easy, nor is raising children or finding a thriving career. All of these things are dealt with in my stories, plus a lot of pulse-pounding situations and trials. I just try to present these things in my novels—things that readers can relate to and, perhaps, find some hope, strength and inspiration along the way.
Okay for that one I am going straight to a chunk of marketing copy:
In this breathtaking follow-up to Fear Has a Name, investigative reporter Jack Crittendon learns his long-time friend and mechanic has fallen suspiciously ill. The man’s likeable sons and neighbors blame a mega-manufacturing plant on the poor side of Trenton City, Ohio, for the sickness and death ravaging their loved ones.
When Jack investigates, he becomes engulfed in a smokescreen of lies, setups, greed, and scandal. The deeper he digs, without his editor’s permission, the more toxic the corruption he uncovers. As Jack meets the big-time players behind the scenes and tries to beat the clock before more people die, he realizes the chillingly unthinkable—he knows way too much.
What was the real life catalyst for the story?
When I was working as a reporter in Ohio, there was a real plant on the poor side of town the spewed a lot of visible pollutants. That always stuck with me. I thought, “If that stuff is hurting those poor people, they have no recourse…”
Most of my stories are taken from just a seed of real life.
You’re not a fan of “filler” when it comes to novels, and I suspect that’s the result of your journalism training. What do you do to cut the literary “fat” from your manuscripts?
Great question. I realized when I began trying to write fiction that the novels I love have no boring parts. None. Every single thing on the written page contributes to the story. Nothing is in the book that doesn’t mean something. If you find yourself writing just to fill the pages or to meet a deadline, bang, you’re dead. That isn’t going to work. You’re going to lose your readers in all the description and boring parts, and the segments that really have no outcome on the book.
You are correct. Being a reporter taught me to jump right to the most important, most intriguing fact, right in the lead paragraph. Cut to the chase. Dive in at the point the reader will find most intriguing. Also, my first editor Julee Schwarzburg taught me to begin each chapter with a bang and end each chapter with a cliff-hanger. That way, the reader can’t put the book down till ‘the end.’
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Don’t ask me why, but I have always loved pretzels with cheese. Em. Can’t beat it for a comfort snack late at night.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
Ha, my family would laugh you out of the house on that one. Another kid and I were the only ones in the entire sixth grade who did not make the choir. That takes care of that question. But I do LOVE music, from rock to country.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
On my good, energetic, creative days I would be a heavy metal anthem.
On my bad, slower, melancholy days I would be an Adele or Tracie Chapman or Stevie Nicks song.
In the story that is your life, are you the tall, dark stranger; the romantic lead; the mythical warrior; the mad scientist; or the child in an adult’s body?
The romantic lead, all the way. Even though I write thrillers, I love romance stories/movies. I really embrace a good Cinderella story as well, and still long to write a good one of those myself. I love to see a male character who brings the very best out of the female character, and vice versa.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Okay. Well we just got an eight-month-old female kitty from the shelter. She is a complete rascal and into everything. So much fun. After much ado, we named her Sammy. And she is not our only female pet with a male name. We have a chocolate lab (female) named Charlie. We also have a thirteen-year-old cat named Lilly which only likes one of our six family members. My neighbor once told us, “Do you guys realize you have nine living creatures at your house?”
Thank you, Creston! It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thank you very much for having me. It’s an honor.
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