Copyright © 2011 Craig Lancaster
After I finished my second novel, The Summer Son, and delivered it to the publisher, I did what I usually do at the conclusion of a big writing project: I took a deep breath, and I kept writing.
The difference, this time, is that I didn’t embark on one of the myriad ideas I had for another novel. I found myself drawn to short stories, something I’d pursued only haltingly before. I wrote stories about lost and lonely men and women, people pushed to the margins of society and their own lives: among them a traveling salesman consigned to a late-night bus ride; a teenage girl running from abuse in her hometown and falling into the indifference of a larger city; a newspaperman in a crisis of career and confidence; a basketball coach who, to borrow the words of the great Neil Finn, lost his regard for the good things that he had.
For nearly a year, the stories poured out. They weren’t consciously linked in time or in theme, but they were bound by one thing that I found impossible to escape: my own state of mind. My marriage was unraveling. I had learned, after a lifetime of veering between troughs of depression and soaring heights of manic energy, that I have a form of bipolar disorder. (I’ve also learned about the liberation that comes with finding a way to raise the floor and lower the ceiling, emotionally speaking.) My means of coping with the turmoil in my life was to sit at my writing desk and find a path through my own thoughts, exorcising my fears and my insecurities.
|Craig Lancaster, author|
While all of this was happening, I was also getting my publishing company, Missouri Breaks Press, off the ground. The first book I did, Carol Buchanan’s Gold Under Ice, was a Spur Award finalist. In July 2011, I collaborated with my colleague Ed Kemmick to bring out The Big Sky, By and By, a collection of Ed’s essays and stories about Montana people and places. The success of those books helped give me the confidence to bring out Quantum Physics under my own banner—not so much because I’m an ardent self-publisher but because my autodidactic tendencies compel me to explore this business from every possible angle. A collection of short stories, which most publishers shy away from on marketing grounds, seemed like the right project to take on. I hired the best editor I know, Jim Thomsen, and he helped me deliver a book that I’m intensely proud of.