What he does: 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."
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"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."
What's next: 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