When Craig Lancaster moved to Montana in 2006, at the age of 36, it was the realization of a dream he’d harbored since childhood.
“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 of the West when I was a kid,” Lancaster says. “It was such a vast, beautiful, overwhelming place. From the first time I saw Montana, I wanted to be a part of it.”
Craig was born on February 9th, 1970, in Lakewood, Washington. Adopted at birth, he grew up in suburban Fort Worth, Texas, with his mother and stepfather and siblings. His stepfather, Charles Clines, was a longtime sportswriter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, a connection that led to Craig’s career as a journalist. In Craig’s twenties and thirties, he worked at a succession of newspaper jobs all over the country—Texas (three times), Alaska (twice), Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, California (twice) and, finally, Montana.
A couple of years after Craig’s arrival in the Big Sky State, he began chasing another long-held dream: writing novels. His first completed novel, 600 Hours of Edward, was born in the crucible of National Novel Writing Month, that every-November free-for-all of furious writing. He completed an entire first draft, nearly 80,000 words, in November 2008. In October 2009, it was published by Riverbend Publishing of Helena, Montana, and has since gone on to be selected as a Montana Honor Book and a High Plains Book Award winner. In August 2012, a new version of the novel was released by Lake Union Publishing, and it has gone on to be an international best-seller.
Craig’s follow-up, The Summer Son, was released in January 2011, 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 fiction finalist in the Utah Book Awards.
Craig’s short-story collection, Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure, released in December 2011 by his own Missouri Breaks Press, won an Independent Publishers Book Award gold medal and was a High Plains Book Award finalist.
In 2013, he released Edward Adrift, the continuing story of Edward Stanton, the protagonist of his debut novel. The new novel, which came out in April 2013, has been widely praised, with best-selling author Ron Franscell saying, “Once again, Craig Lancaster blesses us with a glimpse of universal emotions, and how the turnings of a human heart can be simple and complex at the same time.”
Next up was The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter, which was released November 1, 2014, by Lake Union Publishing. The novel traces the parallel lives of a broken-down boxer and the sportswriter who has followed him for twenty years, an association that is steeped in tragedy for both men. Tim Kawakami, an award-winning sports columnist for the San Jose Mercury News, says of the new novel: “This story ties it all together, from the boxer and the writer’s eyes—the struggling middle, the bright beginning, and the path toward the end for Hugo Hunter and this Montana collection of characters. It’s about the fraternity of the lost, and the tales they tell each other on their way back.”
Craig’s fifth novel, This Is What I Want, was released in July 2015 by Lake Union Publishing. The multi-character drama traces intersecting lives and ambitions over the course of four days during an annual celebration in a small eastern Montana town. LynDee Walker, the Agatha Award-nominated author of Devil in the Deadline, praised the new book, saying, “”Who we are, even in our darkest moments—our dreams, our what-ifs, and our final reckonings—can all be found in this masterfully told story about a small town straddling the line of changing times. The people of Grandview will engage readers from the first page to the last. I didn’t want this book to end.”
In summer 2016, he revisited Edward Stanton with the release of Edward Unspooled.
Lancaster’s work delves deeply below the surface of its characters, teasing out the desires and motivations that lead us through our lives, and the fear that holds us back.
“It’s all too easy to turn people into caricatures, but the truth is, we humans are pretty damned fascinating,” he 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. When I’m asked what my stories mean, my inclination is turn the question around: What do they mean to you?”