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Born in Washington. Grew up in Texas. Lived his adult years in Texas, Alaska, Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, California and, now, Montana. It's the sort of background that informs Craig Lancaster's fiction, set largely in the contemporary American West and, particularly, his adopted home of Montana.
"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."
A couple of years after Craig's arrival in the Big Sky State in his mid-30s, he began chasing a long-held dream: writing novels. His debut, 600 Hours of Edward, was born in 2008 in the crucible of National Novel Writing Month, that every-November free-for-all of furious writing. 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.
His follow-up, The Summer Son, was released in January 2011 by AmazonEncore, 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."
Next came "Quantum Physics and the Art of Departure," a collection of short fiction, including pieces Lancaster originally published in Montana Quarterly magazine. That book, released by Missouri Breaks Press, came out in December 2011.
Lancaster's work delves deeply below the surface of its characters, teasing out the desires and motivations that lead us through our lives.
"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."