100 Creatives 2012: Justin Cronin
What he does:
Photo by Julie Soefer
Former Rice Professor Justin Cronin is a novelist and self-proclaimed book nerd. Once an East Coaster, Cronin was raised in both New England and New York. He earned his BA in English from Harvard University and later his MFA from the Iowa Writer's Workshop. He taught for 11 years at LaSalle University in Philadelphia and later took a teaching position in the English department at Rice University in Houston in 2003.
Cronin has written four novels, including The Summer Guest and Mary and O'Neil, which won him the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize. The New York best-selling author's writing has also earned him the Whiting Writer's Award as well as a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. But it was his third novel, The Passage, the first book in his vampire trilogy, that would really change everything. Since its release, Cronin has already been signed to a multimillion-dollar book deal, written another novel, The Twelve (sequel to The Passage) and decided to leave his position at Rice University to focus on his novel writing.
Why he likes it:
He says his love of writing stems from a love of language.
"I was galvanized by beautiful language very early on. Not just great stories, but the way the combinations of words can create something that seems more real than reality itself...And writing is the best way I know of to not just express, but to discover what I feel about the world."
What inspires him:
A lot inspires his work...real life experiences...his daughter....even the popular zombie TV series Walking Dead. He says also...
"A desire to reconnect with the kinds of books that made me want to be a writer in the first place. I grew up reading big fat novels with big juicy plots that would sweep me away for weeks at a time." He says he tries to read as much as he can and appreciates the virtues he sees in everything from literature to film, and tries to apply some of that to his work.
"I'm trying to write exciting plot-driven fiction with great language and complex characters."
If not this, then what:
He'd still be teaching.
"I was a teacher before I was a writer. I started teaching right after college, and I was a high school teacher for a few years before I went to grad school. And I like it. And I was good at it."
If not here, then where:
Cape Cod, he says. "I'm very attached to Cape Cod, which is where I spent all of my summers as a kid at my grandmother's house." He says he recently bought a house there and calls it his "other home."
"I work extremely well up there. I have no TV...no Internet. In the off-season it's very, very, very quiet and all of the noise of your life can go away. It's kind of my personal artist home."
He's been busy working on the third book in The Passage series and will soon be leaving Houston to go on a book-signing tour for The Twelve (which was just released). He also says that sometime next year he expects to be traveling abroad to the UK and maybe Australia to promote his book.
More Creatives for 2012
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Mark Ivy, actor
Lauren Luna, painter and shoe designer
Sarah Cortez, writer
Kent Dorn, drawer, painter, artist
Lillian Warren, painter
Carl Lindahl, folklorist, UH professor
Sutapa Ghosh, film producer and Indian Film Festival of Houston organizer
Tom Stell, actor, writer, director
Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder
Oliver Halkowich, dancer and performer
Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher
Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director
Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician
Matthew Detrick, classical musician
Travis Ammons, filmmaker
Florence Garvey, actress
Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker
Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder
Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist
Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist
JoDee Engle, dancer
David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher
Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor
Jessica Janes, actress and musician
Dennis Draper, actor and director
Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter
Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist
Adriana Soto, jewelry designer
Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist
Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof
Patrick Turk, visual artist
Elizabeth Keel, playwright
Bob Martin, designer
Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer
Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer
Jeremy Wells, painter
George Brock, theater teacher
Radu Runcanu, painter
Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media
Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker
Philip Hayes, actor
Patrick Palmer, painter
Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer
John Tyson, actor
Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker
Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer
Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music
Laura Burlton, photographer
David Peck, fashion designer
Rebecca Udden, theater director
Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer
Paul Fredric, author
John Sparagana, photographer
Damon Smith, musician and visual artist
Geoff Winningham, photographer
Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist
Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor
Katya Horner, photographer
Johnathan Felton, artist
Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer
Carol Simmons, hair stylist
Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet
Greg Carter, director
Kenn McLaughlin, theater director
Justin Whitney, musician
Antone Pham, tattoo artist
Susie Silbert, crafts
Lauralee Capelo, hair designer
Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer
Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ
ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer
Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director
J.J. Johnston, theater director
Mary Margaret Hansen, artist
Richard Tallent, photographer
Viswa Subbaraman, opera director
Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist
Sonja Roesch, gallery owner
Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor
Sandy Ewen, musician
Camella Clements, puppeteer
Wade Wilson, gallery owner
Magid Salmi, photographer
Carl Williams, playwright