Writers Craig Lancaster and Elisa Lorello started their careers on similar paths: both self-published their first novels, which went on to become incredible hits.
The couple met at an industry party in 2011 and became fast friends. Their friendship grew into a long-distance relationship, with both parties crisscrossing the nation—Craig visiting New York, Elisa visiting Montana—until the couple was married and Elisa moved west to join Craig in Billings.
Elisa holds her master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and started her career teaching rhetoric and composition. She wrote her first novel, Faking It, after finishing grad school and it paved the way for her publishing contract and subsequent novels. After more than a decade of teaching, she became a full-time author in 2012.
Craig has a background in newspaper journalism, and in his late thirties, he wrote his first novel, 600 Hours of Edward, which earned a Montana Honor Book Award and a High Plains Book Award. His fiction has also been honored by the Utah Book Awards and the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
To date the couple have authored a combined sixteen books. Craig’s most recent book, Julep Street, was released in May 2017 and was just selected a literary fiction finalist in the Best Book Awards.
“It's been a pretty sluggish seller, which doesn't surprise me,” said Craig. “It's a pretty dark story about a newspaper editor who goes on a bender after his paper is closed down. It's the story that was in my heart, though, and that's the story you have to write.”
Craig’s previous novel, Edward Unspooled, which came out in 2016, was the general fiction winner in that same contest.
Craig has also been working on publishing essays, including one with the Los Angeles Review of Books centered on his observations of hotel living as a traveling pipeline worker, as well as editing manuscripts and assisting other writers in building their books.
“I guess I'm in mid-career now, which seems insane, as it feels like the whole enterprise is new,” said Craig, who has been writing novels since the release of 600 Hours of Edward in 2009. “I feel myself getting tugged more toward what I want to do and less toward trying to gear myself toward any particular market.”
Craig didn’t necessary envision being a novel writer, but he’s taken to it with surprising prolificacy. “I wrote eight books in the first eight years of doing this. I suspect my pace will slacken in the years ahead.”
In addition to writing, Craig is the design director of Montana Quarterly magazine, as well as a frequent contributor.
Elisa is a bestselling author of ten books, including Faking It, Ordinary World, and She Has Your Eyes. Her writing mission is to create works that are “enjoyable, smart, and well written and edited.”
“I characterize my novels as ‘romance rhetoric’—stories about relationships a la Nora Ephron, but with Aaron Sorkin-like dialogue,” she said. “They are infused with crack dialogue, characters that are flawed but likable, and a story that keeps you thinking and feeling well after the last page."
Elisa has five other standalone novels (Why I Love Singlehood, which she co-wrote, Adulation, The Second First Time, Big Skye Littleton, and Pasta Wars). She also has published a sourcebook for writing titled The Writer's Habit.
Big Skye Littleton, her novel set in Billings, was featured in the Winter issue of the Montana Quarterly magazine.
Elise engages in the writing process on a daily basis, in some form. “I aim to constantly hone my craft and connect with my readers,” she said. “Overall, what motivates me is great storytelling. I see novels as movies in my head, so it's my job to get that movie onto the page and give the reader a similar experience.”
Together, Craig and Elisa run Lancarello Enterprises. They’ve recently a finished manuscript that they co-authored, which is currently with their publisher. Earlier this year, they made the announcement that they would be relocating to the East Coast, to be closer to family members there.