Last year I sat too much, ate
too much . . . So, I’m lookin’ over my list of resolutions and I’m
ready for a change!
4. Quit procrastinating
5. and . . . Exercise!
enters as I’m dusting off the weight bench. “I think next year your
resolution should be not to have a resolution.
Besides, why am I getting roped into this?”
“Because . . . we like to do
“Besides, we only have five
months to get in shape . . . for the beach!”
“Beach? It’s January.” Hubby
lifts up a dumbbell and groans. “How about some virtual exercise?”
“One ugh .
. . two ugh! What?”
“We could take a virtual bike
ride or a jog? The football game’s on; think I’ll sprint to the living
“Virtual only works for the
interviews. Get back here!”
“Where we headed? You can
exercise when we get back!”
“Three UGH. Good idea!
Georgia. I’ve got an interview with Creston Mapes, who’s undoubtedly an
M.V.P. when it comes to inspirational fiction.”
Creston’s debut novel, Dark
Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol, was published in 2005. The
sequel, Full Tilt, hit shelves in March 2006, and a
third stand-alone novel, Nobody, released September
Scoring extra points, the
talented storyteller, Creston Mapes resides in the Atlanta metropolitan
area with his hometown sweetheart and four children. He loves reading,
painting, morning runs with his dog, family outings, and dates with his
We found Creston writing from
his suburban home office in Buford, Georgia, which is about thirty
miles northeast of Atlanta. Just outside the window are two
birdfeeders, and beyond those, a flower garden and wide backyard, where
Creston spends a lot of time with his four children and large yellow
lab, Jarod. A screened porch and patio are perfect for an interview, a
nice writing environment, and being a “back-porch writer,” I feel right
The title of your book simply says Nobody, precise
and to the point. At what phase of writing this story did you come up
with the name? And did you immediately feel it would be perfect for
As with each of my novels, my publisher ended up working with my agent
and me on the “best” final title. For Nobody, I did
not have a very good working title, nothing I felt hit the mark. The
fiction team at Multnomah came up with something like He Was
a Nobody, and I decided we should just shorten it to one
word. We all liked Nobody immediately.
Economic times are rough right now; unemployment is on the rise. How
were you able to relate to homeless character Chester Holte while
having a roof overhead?
The closest way I could relate to Chester was that I, too, was once
deeply involved in a church, leading as an elder, spending a great deal
of time serving there. Chester did the same after he got saved.
However, when burnout set it, Chester realized that his shallow union
with God was built almost solely on his works. Chester was a man
pleaser, and it took him a long while and some heartache to realize
that the depth of his relationship with Christ was minimal. The same
thing happened to me. So I could totally relate to Chester when his
eyes were finally opened and he realized that he wanted to be more
involved in the lives of people outside the church (not solely within
the doors of the church). Of course, I did not go to live and love
among the homeless as Chester did. But having Chester’s character in
mind, I did spend three days in Las Vegas touring the homeless
community, which gave me a realistic view of what his life may have
been like. I toured free clinics, soup kitchens, and dry canyon basins
where the homeless sleep. It was quite an experience. Again, thanks to
Multnomah for sending me.
What ultimately gave you the confidence to make writing your career?
I was not a good student at any level of school, and creative writing
was the only thing that ever came naturally for me. I studied magazine
journalism at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. It was there I
met advisor-professor Barbara Austin, who was a freelance writer for
National Geographic. She had us writing in-depth magazine stories and
submitting them for publication. It was under her leadership and
guidance that I learned I could make a living as a writer. [Side note:
I can’t find Barbara anywhere. I’ve searched the Internet to no end. If
anyone knows where I can find her, I’d like to make contact.] I went
from newspaper reporter to corporate copywriter to freelance marketing
writer to novelist. After writing three novels in three years, I have
gone back to my freelance writing to bring in some regular income, and
hope to write a fourth novel soon. I have several ideas that I have
started and need to pick one and pursue it. I’m even tossing around an
idea for a nonfiction work.
are blessed . . . and now a new year is upon us. Where is your primary
focus for 2009?
Primary focus for 2009 is to continue to have my mind renewed by Christ
and God’s Word. I got all caught up in the novel writing as I was
fulfilling my three-book contract. I think the whole being published
thing kind of consumed me. But time, and mercy, and lack of a NY Times
Bestseller have cured me of that. I feel very good about where I am
right now, because I’ve kind of come back down to reality and realized
I need to be doing my freelance marketing copywriting to make a steady
income, and if God wants me to write another novel, He will need to
give me the idea, incentive, inspiration, and time to do so. The only
reason I started writing fiction was to share Christ’s transforming
power with others . . . to give Christian-fiction lovers a gritty,
contemporary, suspenseful read, one which they could then pass along to
their unsaved friends, neighbors, and family. I feel very good about
being off the treadmill of feeling I had to produce a book every nine
months or year (which is what publishers want). My desire is to write a
remarkably powerful and unique novel. If that is God’s desire, then he
will see that it comes to pass, find a publisher for it, and rock the
world with that story. I still pray that my first three books will
become best sellers and motion pictures.
You married your childhood sweetheart and have celebrated over twenty
years together. What are the key ingredients for a successful marriage?
Patty and I were in
fourth and sixth grades together—from the same small town in northeast
Ohio (Bath/Fairlawn/Akron). We celebrated our twenty-fourth wedding
anniversary in December. We have four children: a freshman in college,
and a thirteen-, twelve-, and eight-year-old. I think the key,
long-term ingredient for us has been for each of us to remain in God’s
Word over the years. Certainly, rocky times and dry
But to continue to go back to the well of God’s Word each day and give
Him the opportunity to speak to us and change us . . . that is where I
believe you get the supernatural grace to find peace and humility and
wisdom and strength. Also, we try to go on “dates” as often as possible
(the kids love making mac & cheese and letting us go out).
Finding time to talk and listen to each other is also key.
Are any of your four children following in your footsteps?
All four of our children love to read. The older ones have proven they
are great writers, but none of them seem to have a passion for it yet.
They are all very creative. It’s amazing and interesting to see how
each of them has special “gifts” that they tap into more and more as
the years go by. I’ve offered to collaborate with each of them on
novels . . . we’ll see what happens. My oldest, Abigail, did have a lot
to do with some of the twists and turns in Dark Star.
Would you be more apt to give them the positive or the negative side to
whatever their “grown-up” dreams may be?
More so than positive or negative, we just try to be realistic and
helpful as the kids contemplate and dream about their futures. All six
of us have seen how intimately God works. He gave me a dream to write
fiction. I received more than a hundred rejections over five years
before a publisher believed in me. Our kids have seen God move in
intimate and mighty ways. They know if they get in stride with His
plan, they will be able to bear much good fruit for Christ.
You’ve been published in magazines, authored a number of books, and due
to your expertise spoken to various groups. Are your seminars always
about writing and publishing?
When I speak, it is usually about fiction writing—so many people say
they want to write books! However, I’ve also spoken a number of times
about making a living as a writer, which encompasses newspaper and
magazine writing, freelance marketing, writing novels, and ghostwriting
nonfiction books, etc.
Do you have any spiritual seminars or programs you have incorporated
into your repertoire?
The whole premise for my writing fiction relates back to my wild,
rebellious years as a youth and young adult. As a teen I wore a T-shirt
with a skull and crossbones that read: SWORN TO FUN, LOYAL TO NONE. I
began drinking, smoking, and experimenting with drugs at a young age.
So, these stories absolutely come out almost whenever I speak. Because
that old Creston Mapes is now dead and I am a new creature . . . that’s
why I write fiction: to show the transforming power of God as it rises
up through the grassroots of an intense story. And my stories are
realistic, because I know what it’s like to still be tempted and tried,
even as a believer. I find that when I tell people (during teaching
opportunities) stories about my past with realism and humor and
thankfulness, people are really drawn in. I love sharing my testimony
and having it cause others to want the same in their lives. That’s why
I wrote Dark Star and Full Tilt,
about a drug-addicted rock star . . . because I could relate with that
Speaking of seminars, have you ever considered Marriage and Family a
man’s point of view? (A discussion for couples, or anyone wanting some
help or direction?)
I’ve appeared on one Atlanta TV show several times to talk about my
books, and the lady keeps saying she wants to bring me back with my
wife to discuss our marriage, but my wife will have nothing to do with
it! I should point out we really don’t/can’t take credit for our good
marriage. It’s only by God’s favor and mercy that we have had so many
good years together. We pray He will help us finish our time here on
I think living in the South is great! How would you describe life as a
Southerner? (Go ahead . . . tell us ’bout them DAWGS.)
Being “Yankees” from the wonderful Northcoast (Lake Erie, that is), we
found it interesting and challenging to come South. Of course, Atlanta
has so many “transplants” that many native Georgians don’t consider
Atlanta the true South. We’ve lived in northeast Atlanta for
twenty-three years. Although we miss a more distinct change of seasons
and a bit more snow, we have come to enjoy many things about the South:
cornbread stuffing at Thanksgiving, The Varsity, Coke (always Coke),
the Dawgs and the Rambling Wreck (we have fans of each at our house),
The Blue Willow (world’s best home cooking in Social Circle, Georgia),
Gwinnett Gladiators hockey, being close to the beach and mountains,
sunny days year round (Akron, Ohio, is overcast much of the winter, six
to seven long months).
I totally agree. I came from Long Island and the winter season always
seemed the longest. You have been asked many questions during your
career, but I was wondering if you would like to share one thing with
your fans that you haven’t been asked but think they would enjoy
Two things readers may like to hear about. First, my whole family knows
that whenever we are out and about town and see something unusual or
intriguing, Daddy is going to file it away for a “book idea.” This has
become a family “saying” around our house and becomes quite humorous at
times. The people I hang with know they need to be careful about what
they say and do because it may end up in a book.
Next, fans may find it funny
that I have a part-time job at the fabulous Arena at Gwinnett Center
here in Atlanta. The Arena seats 11,355 and plays host to some
outstanding concerts and events (home of the above mentioned beloved
Gladiators ECHL hockey team). Anyway, I can pretty much choose the
events I work. The staff is great. Very professional, yet fun. I do
security and ushering. It provides a really nice hobby/outlet for me.
So, if you ever go to an event at the arena, watch for me (in one of
the yellow security jackets) . . . many good book ideas are percolating
as a result of this job!
Will do! And, Creston, thank you. It’s been a pleasure meeting you and
I hope this will be a great year for you, filled with only a modicum of
challenges, an abundance of rewards, and the faith to follow in God’s
Happy New Year!
Valerie Anne Faulkner, a New
York native, moved to the Gulf Coast of Florida in 1973. Author of
I Must Be in Heaven, a promise kept… she spends her
days working side by side with her husband, Bill, as an electrician,
then evenings, as a writer. The CFOM interviews
have been a great way for her to meet other authors and hone her
writing craft. This back-porch writer’s family is very important to
her, and she cherishes time spent with her three grown children and six
grandchildren. A few hours with family or a day enjoying one of
Florida’s Gulf beaches are her favorite ways to relieve stress and
refresh from her busy lifestyle. Valerie’s motto is “A day with prayer
. . . seldom unravels.”
Recently her story was honored
with First Place-Royal Palm Literary Award in the published/memoir
category at the Florida Writer’s Conference held in Lake
Visit her at www.imustbeinheaven.com