Q&A With Craig Terlson, author of Manistique
By J.B. StevensMay 14, 2021
I recently did an email-based Q&A with Craig Terlson, author of Surf City Acid Drop, the forthcoming Manistique, and numerous other works. Craig is an immensely talented writer. His next crime novel, Manistique, is coming out in early Summer 2021.
Tell us about your writing history:
Becoming a serious writer was always in the back of my mind, but it took me a while to get to it. After attending art school, I started a career as a professional illustrator for books, newspapers, magazines, and the odd advertising job. In the late 90s, the desire to write bubbled up, and I began my first novel. I also wrote a lot of short stories and started to get published in the early 2000s—mostly literary work, but crime fiction kept sneaking in there. I’ve learned a lot from the demands of short fiction, and have published stories in Canada, U.S., U.K., and even a couple in South Africa. My new novel will be my sixth.
Tell us about your soon-to-be-released manuscript:
The new novel, Manistique, is the second in my series with Luke Fischer, a detective who never admits he is one. It’s a standalone, so readers don’t need to read the first one (Surf City Acid Drop) to enjoy it—but I’d be happy if they did. Readers have compared Luke to a modern-day Travis McGee, and I welcome the comparison. Also, settings are important to me, they often play like another character—in this novel hot, arid New Mexico is contrasted with “why is it always raining?” Upper Michigan. Luke teams with a female sheriff from the small town of Manistique who has a sense of humor to match Luke’s, and a hell of a spin kick. Together they try to solve a pair of murders, and bond over beer and shrimp chips.
If you could have a drink with one author who would it be, and why?
Only one? Damn, that’s hard. Probably James Lee Burke, so I could ask him how he created Dave Robicheaux, oh, and Joe Lansdale would be there, too (maybe serving drinks?)—and the ghost of James Crumley.
Seriously, there are so many writers that I admire that we’d need to move to a bigger table.
What is your favorite book?
I don’t like dividing books and writers into categories like crime fiction or literary, but I have to answer this as a two-fer. Crime: The Last Good Kiss, by James Crumley, and Literary: Underworld by Don DeLillo.
If you could go back in time and change one thing about your writing career, what would it be?
I’d try to be more patient, and let my work find its audience. Writing is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, and it can be a rollercoaster of emotion. A book gets picked up by an agent, then it gets dropped, then someone else sends it on submission, and it gets real close… and then it’s rejected. I have more patience now, but I wish I had it in those early years, maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference, but maybe I would have had fewer dark days.
Do you write full-time, or do you have a “day” job?
I moved out of illustration about ten years ago, and now the full-time gig is design and marketing. Currently, the day job is at a small university full of wonderful colleagues. I’m the design manager and I teach a few classes. Writing is either early in the morning, or in the evening, or whenever I can fit it in.
What is your least-favorite part of writing?
No question: querying. Finding an agent and a publisher can be a soul-sucking experience. I’ve been published traditionally (such an odd term) and independently, both have their challenges. But after working several years on a book, and then sending it out to see if it’s “marketable”… well, writers know what I’m talking about here. Scotch helps.
Did you always want to be a writer, what was your childhood dream?
My earliest memory of someone asking me what I wanted to be… yeah, I actually said “an author”, precocious 4-year-old that I was. It was probably because I was such a bookworm growing up. I loved playing baseball, street hockey, riding my bike, and knocking around town like other kids. But the library was my favorite place in the world.
Any final comments?
Just to say that writing feeds my creative soul like nothing else—and one of my biggest joys is when the work connects with a reader. I’ve usually had these characters knocking around in my head for years before someone else meets them. I love hearing how these people I’ve created have an impact on others, even if it’s just, “I really hate that guy.” Yeah, me too. That’s why he’s dead.
Check out Craig’s website at http://woofreakinhoo.squarespace.com/ and follow him on social media to keep up with his writing.