Friday, February 09, 2007

Sta Akra--Part 2

Creston Mapes: Creston’s background has also been in marketing and journalism. He graduated with a degree in magazine journalism and later went on to serve as creative director for Dr. Bruce Wilkinson (Prayer of Jabez) and Walk Thru the Bible Ministries in Atlanta. Creston and his group created, wrote, edited, and produced monthly, color magazines for clients such as Ligonier Ministries, Biola University, and Coral Ridge Ministries. After that he picked up freelancing, which he’s been doing ever since. He’s written marketing copy for Coca-Cola, The Weather Channel, Focus on the Family, Johnson Controls, Haggai Institute, The Southern Company, Oracle Corporation, In Touch Ministries, BellSouth, Stein Communications, Mission to the World, and many others.

Creston’s first novel, Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol, was published by Multnomah in 2005, followed by Full Tilt in 2006. His next novel, Nobody, will hit shelves this fall.

Opening of Dark Star:

It was a glorious blaze, the fire we set. A wicked, glorious blaze.

Its flames leapt as tall as we were at fifteen years of age, however tall that was. Dibbs was short, so the flames even went above his head.

We stood like some kind of untouchable demons with our backs to the fire, legs locked apart, and forearms crossed above our heads with fists clenched. Our white, black, and red painted faces were lowered, our eyes staring at the wet, almost freezing Ohio street beneath our booted feet.

As cars approached our black, soldier-like silhouettes and the burning wall of fire behind and turned around to find another way to their part of the neighborhood.

Ah, the power. Adrenaline pumping. Hearts pounding. Fear mixed with fascination.

We felt like gods.

Chris Well: Chris is yet another Sta Akra member with a journalism background. His day job is Web Content Manager for Salem Publishing, and he’s a contributing editor for CCM Magazine. He’s also contributed to Thriller Readers Newsletter, 7ball magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Infuze Magazine. Chris is a comic book lover (he and his wife write comic strips), and it shows in his novels. His dialogue is snappy and fresh, the description sometimes sounding like a comic book. He’s known also for his quirky characters and a pop-culture kind of feel to his work. His novels include Forgiving Solomon Long, Deliver Us From Evelyn, with his latest, Tribulation House, releasing in May. Forgiving Solomon Long was chosen by Booklist as one of the Top Ten Christian Novels of 2005.

Chris has been interviewed on Forensics and Faith.
Part 1. Part 2.

Opening of Deliver Us From Evelyn:

On his last day of this life, the Right Fair ReverendMissionary Bob Mullins checked the party dip. Just stuckhis finger right in there, pulled some glop free, stuck it in his mouth and sucked.

Hmm, good dip.

He wiped his saliva’d finger on his jacket, popped the topoff a can of Pringles, shuffled a neat row of curved chipsonto a Dixie brand paper platter.


Setting the can down, he stepped back from the second-hand coffee table in the middle of the shag-carpeted office, looked at what his party planning skills had wrought. And he saw that it was good...

Melanie Wells: Melanie graduated with degrees in counseling psychology and Biblical studies from Our Lady of the Lake University and Dallas Theological Seminary. She has taught at the graduate level at both places, and has been in private practice as a counselor since 1992. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks counseling associates in Dallas, Texas, a collaborative community of creative therapists.

Melanie’s a cool chick with a great sense of humor. From her web site:

Writers are made, not born. There's a formula. You have to start with a certain amount of family dysfunction. It doesn't have to be quite of the Sylvia Plath variety, but if you have an alcoholic or two in the group, or possibly a catastrophic loss of some kind, or at least a chronic inability to function in the face of conflict, you're off to a good start…

Melanie’s psychological/spiritual warfare thriller trilogy has started off with When the Day of Evil Comes and Soul Hunter. (In which the bad guy’s a demon—for real.) She’s published by Multnomah.

Opening of When the Day of Evil Comes:

Someone said to me that day, “It’s hotter than the eyes of hell out here.” I can’t remember who. Looking back, I wonder if it meant something, that phrase. Something more than a weather report. But as it was, I let the remark pass without giving it a thought. It was hot. Hotter than the eyes of hell. That was true enough.

If I’d known enough to be afraid, I would have been. But I was a thousand years younger then, it seems, and I didn’t know what was out there. To me, it seemed like an ordinary day...

Eric Wilson: Eric is published by Waterbrook. His first two novels were Dark to Mortal Eyes and Expiration Date, followed by the Aramis Black series novels The Best of Evil and A Shred of Truth (released this July).
On his website:

From an early age, I wanted to be a writer. Although I was born in California and raised in Oregon, my more enduring memories start in Europe where my parents took Bibles into eastern Europe during the time of the Iron Curtain. Life was a grand adventure for me, full of sights and smells, exotic cultures and peoples...

After high school, my best friend and I traveled in eastern Europe and China. While we were away, things crumbled on the home front, and I returned to my parents’ eventual breakup. I moved to LA and began college. During my junior year, my childhood friend from down the block showed up as a freshman. Within months, she and I were married, and we’re now in our sixteenth year… We now live in Nashville, TN, where my wife is pursuing her dream of singing/songwriting.

Along the way, I’ve been a youth pastor, warehouse manager, cabinet maker, espresso shop owner--and now, at last, a novelist. My heart’s desire. From childhood.

Excerpt from The Best of Evil:

"Well, if it ain't Aramis Black."

"Hey, Striker." I reached out a hand, but he ignored it.

"You got some nerve, wanderin' into our zip code." Striker pushed away from a telephone poll, a short man, a compact slab of muscle. Shaved head. Tattoos coiling around his neck and down into his puffy Blazers jacket. He's never been the brightest bulb in the pack, but he's more than capable of delivering pain in high-wattage.

"One favor,” I said. “That's all I need. For old time sakes."
"A favor, says you. A fa-vor.”

"Ain't nothin' free around here," said his companion.

Striker shook his head. "You cut yourself loose, left us high 'n dry. Funny thing happened right afterwards. The cops came down on us, hard and fast. Who you think you are, some am-bass-ador, come and go as you please?"

I started backing up. It’d been a mistake to come here...

And there you have 'em. Eight wonderful writers, eight terrific and downright nice folk. I'm proud to say I'm a part of the Sta Akra group.


Karen said...

Woo hoo! All those journalist backgrounds are making me feel really good about choosing my journalism major.

You got that "Dark to Mortal Eyes" guy--very cool. His book cover is stunning. And that Melanie Wells seems hilarious. I've never heard of her before but now I definitely want to check out her stuff.

What a super cool bunch! When you guys meet up do you wear those movie star #1 stunner shades? hehe.

Thanks for giving us the 411 on the group.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

The only one that I haven't read is Melanie Wells. I'll have to find something by her!

C.J. Darlington said...

What a great bunch of writers. I'm a big suspense fan and have read many of the books by these authors. Great stuff.

Peggy Blann Phifer said...

An impressive roster!

Now, Brandilyn, y'need to bring these folks over to ACFW! Some of them already are - Creston Mapes, TL Hines, Kathy Mackel ---



Dineen A. Miller said...

Wow, three more writers I need to check out. I've already read Creston's books. Can't wait for his next one. Thanks for posting all this, Brandilyn!