Friday, November 5, 2010

Meet Stan Crader, Author and Family Friend

The place where my parents were raised, and where much of my extended family still lives, is smalltown America. Family-owned businesses, close-knit community, everybody's involved and it-takes-a-whole-village mentality. Sort of a throwback to wholesome, simpler times.
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Stan Crader loves to write about those times, of his boyhood in the country reaches of Missouri. Stan creates characters and pens stories based on a generation gone by, using his own rural experiences as backdrop. His novels, THE BRIDGE and PAPERBOY, were inspired by his growing up years.
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I recently connected with Stan, who grew up with two of my uncles (and considers them friends yet today). He works in management for a large company by day, and reminisces through the power of fiction by night.
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Stan, who is both funny and real as it gets, joins me here today for some Q&A, about working, writing, life, and the balance of it all. You can learn more about Stan and his books by visiting his website.
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Welcome, Stan!
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Tell me how many years you've spent working for a large company. And how do you reconcile or balance that career with your writing?
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SC: I grew up (or at least old) in this business. I first swept floors, then cleaned toilets, delivered farm equipment, worked on equipment, then worked in the shipping department, and eventually moved into management. The change was gradual but once I graduated from Mizzou, my responsibilities ramped up more rapidly. Let’s say I’ve been in management for 35 years. Ouch! As a manager I’ve experienced the introduction of computers into the business and then the internet. I really need a break. I’m not doing the next deal. That’s for the next generation – whatever the next deal is.
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I frequently tell others to strike a balance but I find my own advice difficult to take. I tend to be a workaholic and depend upon friends like your uncle Jack to call and convince me to do something fun. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of fun, it’s just that I can get too intense. I try to discipline and compartmentalize. That is, I try to keep work at work and writing elsewhere. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t autograph books and address envelopes while on a conference call. While at home I try to be mentally there but my wife will tell you that she frequently has to snap me out of it, so to speak. I don’t do balance very well. Sorry. I’m attention deficit and the best way to handle it is to stay busy. I sit down and watch TV but usually read a book and miss the program. We DVR everything so my wife can skip the commercials and playback things I missed but should have seen.
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Tell us how your "mature" age has affected your writing journey. And comment, if you would, on this quote by George Eliot: "It is never too late to be what you might have been."
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SC: Eliot was a goof. You are what you are regardless of how it’s manifested. Some are blessed with fine qualities and just go with it. Others must overcome shortfalls and work hard to overcome them. I’m a lousy speller, so I use a dictionary. Because I use a dictionary doesn’t mean I’m a good speller but that I spell correctly (when I actually use the dictionary). Alcoholics are alcoholics regardless of the consumption. You see what I mean? So, you’re never too old to do what it is God intended you to do, I like that better. I don’t know who said it first, maybe the Apostle Paul.
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My age has caused me to appreciate more. And not just the small things but everything. I appreciate an autumn mist more (small thing) and I certainly appreciate our armed forces more (big thing). I treasure more than ever those who helped this country become the greatest nation on earth. The older one gets the more of their friends they’ve lost. And with each loss grows the intensity with which one appreciates those who remain. (wow, that was deep – maybe pathetic) But years equal experience and seasoning. Think of age as an elevator: With each year you get a little higher and gain a broader perspective. Okay, enough babble.
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Janna: No, not babble. I like that very much.
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How long have you been writing knowing it was more than hobby, but particularly with interest in publication?
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SC: I’ve been doing business writing for a long, long time. And I actually won a couple awards for business writing. Another person here in the office made the application and forced me to go to St. Louis to receive the award. Hooboy. So, I’ve been at it a while. Business writing is easy, it’s simply getting facts down in as few words as possible. Novels are more difficult. It’s somewhat like lying, one must pay attention or the story gets all messed up. Writing is still a hobby, but one day it will define me. I began to take my writing a bit more seriously when people started telling how it touched them. The power of words is incredible. Very little of what I do can I say is work. Productive, yes? But I try to have fun in all that I do. I don’t like washing windows, that is work. And my wife tells me I must do it before our Thanksgiving company arrives. Crap!
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Tell us a little about why you chose self-publication. How might someone determine if it's the best method for their works? And, what are your long-term goals?
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SC: Unless you’re famous or infamous, plan to self-publish. I’ve worked very hard at getting published and it’s so time consuming. I like to write, I don’t like to try and convince others to publish my material. And few things raise my ire like an agent telling me my proposal isn’t in the right format or the pages in the right order. I’m a content person. I’m not so impressed with what someone wears as I am with what they have to say. I’d love to connect with a good agent and I think my work would make a good agent and publishing house some serious money, but I don’t have the tenacity to work the system. So, I’ll self-publish until my break comes. That break will be after one of my books gets seen by the right person. I’ll let God set that course in action.
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PAPERBOY, just out, is your second novel. What was your inspiration for this story? `
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SC: I was a Paperboy and learned so much about my customers. I didn’t realize until later how much I knew about people that few others knew. As a kid you think everyone else knows what you know. That’s not the case. And with PAPERBOY my goal is to make everyone realize that everyone has a redeeming quality and an untold story.
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Janna: Well done! I think that's so important in fiction.
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Do you have any other projects planned, or in the process of creation?
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SC: Yes! Fifteen: The Longest Year. I’ve started an outline for the next installment [in this series]. The boys are fifteen and one by one they’re turning sixteen. Fifteen is the longest year in a boy’s life. The boys are up to their antics but are also taking a high school class on George Washington with an emphasis on decorum.
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What advice might you have for any who've made their life in one career but dream of writing or another creative outlet?
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SC: Read some books and attend a conference on their desired second career. If you want to be an artist, join an artist’s club, go to art shows, read books on art, how to do art, and so on. Learn the fundamentals and then have fun. For example if you want to learn to play the piano, take a few lessons before jumping into Gershwin. The same goes for writing … read some books on how to write…
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Janna: Makes sense. Thanks! And now for a few fun ones...
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What's your favorite down-home meal, and who makes it?
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SC: Favorite meal…roast beef, potatoes, applesauce, asparagus, cherry pie – my wife is the best cook in the world…she really is, others say it too, my sister is a close 2nd.
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Janna: Sound delicious, every bit of it.
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If you could have chosen to live as Opie or the Beave, which would you have been and why?
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SC: Beave – but that’s a tough one. For one thing Beave still has hair. Beave’s house was air conditioned and Opie’s was not. Opie didn’t have a mother. Beave had a dream mom – she died a couple weeks ago... Beave had a neighbor and lots of friends. Opie hung out at the jail too much. But then it would be cool to have a Sheriff or policeman as a father. Actually, I’d rather be Wally.
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Janna: Oh, now there's an aspiration. He was definitely the cutest. ;) And last but, you know, not least...
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Care to share a memory of your childhood friends and my uncles, Bill and Jack?
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SC: I’m short, Bill and Jack are both tall. And for that I don’t like either one of ‘em (joking). It’s not fair that they should get so tall and I’m so short. Your uncle Jack and I both had old cars while in HS. The cool thing to do at the time was to race your car against others in the quarter-mile. Neither of our cars would break the speed limit in the quarter-mile so there was no sport. Interesting, Jack’s car would peel out and get 2nd gear scratch, while my car barely made a peep, we’d cross the marker together. So, to make it a sport we’d race going backwards. Sometimes we’d race until our engines overheated. To this day I can back a car at high speeds around curves and about anywhere thanks to the prowess developed on the Woodland High School flats in a 1962 Chevy Nova with a 190 cubic inch motor.
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Janna: My husband did the quarter-mile races, too! I think it's crucial to a teenage boy's existence.
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SC: That wasn’t the dumbest thing we ever did… don’t ask.
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Okay, promise. At least until the next time I'm with Uncle Jack...
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Stan, thank you so much for the time and answers you've given here. I enjoy your insight (and sense of humor), and I wish you much success with writing and all your endeavors.
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Something else worth mentioning is that Stan and his wife, Debbie, have chosen a charity to receive the net proceeds from sales of PAPERBOY: Melaina's Magical Playland. Very cool.
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You can learn more at Stan's beautiful site, StanCrader.com.

10 comments:

Diane said...

LOve the story idea of fifteen. Even though I'm not a boy I can see how that year is pivotal and would be an exciting time to capture. :O)

Karen Lange said...

Thanks to both of you for sharing this! Have a wonderful weekend!
Blessings,
Karen

Karen said...

Janna, that was a very good interview. Loved his sense of humor, too. His books must be great if they reveal that in them, too. Will check out his site. Thanks.

Teresa aka JW said...

Great interview-both of you.

I love books like this with personal flavor, with history--also written by another Missourian. What's not to like about about a writer who is funny and real? Love it.

I'm off to check out Stan's website.

Melissa Gill said...

Thanks for the great interview.

Melissa Sarno said...

Awesome interview Janna! Thanks for posting. Love the story of the racing.

Kathryn Magendie said...

This was so much fun to read - and I love what he said about being who we are and as we age...etc etc, in relation to the Elliot quote *smiling*

I am sitting here smiling...

colbymarshall said...

Great interview. So glad he found the publication path that fits him. Hope your weekend has been lovely!

Deb Shucka said...

Very interesting interview. Thanks Janna and Stan!

Heather Sunseri said...

"My age has caused me to appreciate more. And not just the small things but everything. I appreciate an autumn mist more (small thing) and I certainly appreciate our armed forces more (big thing)."

Love that! Very interesting interview. Thanks for sharing that.