This Is What I Want

Craig’s fifth novel—again with Lake Union Publishing—plunges readers directly into the eastern Montana he loves so well, onto the streets of a fictional town that is riding out the changes wrought by the very real Bakken oil play.

Lancaster-ThisIsWhatIWant-20166-CV-FT2In the sweltering heat of a Montana July, Grandview readies for its annual Jamboree. The event is meant to celebrate community, but this year tensions boil over, threatening to tear the town, and a family, apart.

Sam Kelvig, a third-generation resident, will do just about anything to protect Grandview from the influx of new oil money and the strangers chasing it. Meanwhile, his restless wife, Patricia, wearies of the constraints of marriage to a man who is so tied to his community; Sam’s estranged son, Norby, has reluctantly returned home despite the family’s struggle with accepting his sexuality; Henrik, Sam’s volatile brother, is looking for any easy opportunity; and Blanche, the family matriarch, only wants a bit of peace before she dies. As Jamboree goes into full swing, the disputes and desires of the Kelvigs—and their friends and neighbors—collide, fueled by both longtime resentments and an irrepressible hope to preserve their family and hometown.

This book taps into the same rich storytelling vein Craig has mined so successfully in previous novels, telling the stories of families and outsiders caught between sustaining love and changing times. It’s tough and tender, heartbreaking and fulfilling.

About the book

Release date: July 28th, 2015

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

ISBN-10: 1503945111

ISBN-13: 978-1503945111

Available formats: Paperback, Kindle, audiobook.

Download the This Is What I Want media kit.

Praise for the book

The more things change—you know how this one goes. But nothing’s staying the same in Grandview, the fictional eastern Montana town in Craig Lancaster’s bittersweet new novel, This Is What I Want. Lancaster writes with great affection for small towns, but never lets that affection cloud the hard fact that their homey façade often masks troubles rivaling anything bubbling up from the oil patch. Change might be the best thing that could happen to Grandview.”—Gwen Florio, High Plains Book Award-winning author of Montana and Dakota

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.”—LynDee Walker, Agatha Award-nominated author of Devil in the Deadline

What the author says

In Billings, Spring 2014. (Photo by Casey Page)

This isn’t exactly an original observation, but I’ll make it just the same: Life has some amazing rhythms.

I’ll show my work here.

I spent the bulk of the summer I was 12 years old in a little town on the eastern edge of Montana. The place was called Sidney, and my dad was based there while he dug exploratory wells on the North Dakota side of the border. (Montana, you see, has no sales tax, and in a high-cost business like drilling, every dollar counts.) It was one of the most memorable summers of my young life. We lived in a motel across the street from the big city park, I took most of my meals at Taco John’s, and the buttes and rolling hills outside of town offered plenty of room for me to roam on my little motorcycle. I made a lot of memories that I carried back with me to suburban Fort Worth, Texas, where a new school year and life with my mom, stepfather, and siblings awaited.

Twenty-four years later, I returned to Sidney. This time, I came with the woman I intended to marry, a woman who grew up just a handful of miles north of town. The motel was (and is) still there. So was (is) the city park. Sidney, a town that swings between prosperity and austerity depending on how the oil and sugar beet economies are faring, looked much as I remembered it. The building boom of the early ’80s had left it bereft when the bottom fell out of the oil business in 1983. The town was on the verge of another boom, and it was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

In many ways, this is the book I’ve been preparing my whole life to write. My old man rode those energy-economy waves, same as the good people of Sidney. I saw him make and lose fortunes. I saw how oil money can transform lives, in ways good and bad. Mostly, I saw that the dynamics of families are pretty much the same regardless of where you look—whether it’s in a place like Sidney, where sustenance is wrestled from the ground, or in the pre-fab suburbs that I knew much better back home in Texas. The beat of life goes on. We try to provide for our families, try to put away a little something for our old age, try to get right with our God (or our questions about God) and try to find a way to move in concert with the rest of the world. It’s never easy. Sometimes, it doesn’t even seem worthwhile. We do it anyway. And forty-five years of life tell me we reap joy and heartbreak, and everything in between, in proportions that keep us pressing forward.

And so it goes, on the page and in real life, whatever that is. I married the girl. We tried to make a life together. It didn’t work out, and we showed each other some needed grace on the way out. I dedicated this book to her. I’d have never written it if I hadn’t fallen in love with her, if I hadn’t found a family in a place where I was once just an adolescent interloper. If I didn’t have her as a friend still today.

My gratitude, it goes and goes.