UMW News BureauPublished author and journalist Craig Lancaster is the featured author for the April 25 Dances with Words reading at the University of Montana Western. By Kaitlin Ens Published author and journalist Craig Lancaster is the featured author for the April 25 Dances with Words reading at the University of Montana Western. Lancaster will read at 7:30 p.m. in Montana Western’s coffee shop The Cup, located on the lower level of the Swysgood Technology Center. Montana Western’s English department sponsors the Dances with Words series, which features spoken word by both local and visiting writers and poets. The public is always welcome to the free series. After meeting Montana Western Professor of English Alan Weltzien and hearing about the experience of his friend David Abrams, who read at Dances with Words on Dec. 2, 2010 Lancaster inquired about doing a reading himself. Lancaster believes public readings are vitally important for many reasons. “It is good for us, as human beings, to gather together and experience art, individually and collectively,” Lancaster explained. “These conversations tend to go far beyond the work at hand and affect us on a basic, molecular level. And for the artist, of course, a public reading is an unmatched opportunity to have fellowship with people, who will give consideration to his or her work. On the bookstore shelves, books are inert. In the hands of readers, they have endless possibilities.” Lancaster will read from his debut novel “600 Hours of Edward” and his new novel “The Summer Son.” “The actual reading time will be 20 to 30 minutes, I imagine,” Lancaster stated. “I'll do a bit of an introduction to the works, and I'll happily answers questions or even read more if that's what folks want.” Lancaster has accumulated numerous publications during his 20 years as a writer, editor, and journalist for venues such as as the San Jose Mercury News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and The Billings Gazette. He is currently working on a collection of short stories and has started outlining his next novel. Due to his day job as a journalist for The Billings Gazette, Lancaster tends to write most frequently in the silence of the night. “I tend to write when I get home from work between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m.,” Lancaster commented. “Unfortunately, I need complete silence when I'm working on fiction, and that's best achieved when the house and the neighborhood are quiet. When I'm in a good groove on a project I tend to write fairly quickly on first drafts. The best part of writing actually comes in rewriting and revisions. That's where I have the most fun. I suspect that's a product of my background as an editor.” Although Lancaster has a family history of publishers, sportswriters and journalists, he was the first in his family to venture into fiction. Lancaster prefers not to claim a specific genre but he stated contemporary fiction is probably the best place for him to be shelved. “I grew up reading and adoring Hemingway and Steinbeck, Doig and Stegner, and in my earliest attempts at fiction I did really bad imitations of all of them,” Lancaster recalled. “Part of growing as a writer is learning to recognize and trust your own voice.” Lancaster finds his inspiration to write comes from “the all-too-real fear that I can do nothing else at a professional capability and thus have no other options.” He also cites the freedom to create and explore fictional worlds as inspiration. “I think it's healthy to have a little bit of quiet desperation,” Lancaster added. “Beyond that, at least in terms of fiction, I use writing to explore my own feelings about relationships and the world around me. I build fictional worlds, but they're real to me in the sense that they're populated by people who are grappling with issues that vex folks here in the world where I live.” Lancaster said he is looking forward to coming to Dillon and meeting everyone as he has heard nothing but good things about Dances with Words. University of Montana Western adjunct environmental sciences and biology professor Laurie Henneman will be opening for Lancaster with a reading from a selection in a recently published book on modern motherhood: “TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood.” The book, published by Coffeetown Press, will become available on May 1, 2011. "TORN" is a collection of 47 women contributors examining “the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work, and reveal their creative solutions for having the best of both worlds.” “We're hearing more and more these days about the problem of 'balancing work and family,'” Henneman explains. “While this problem is by no means limited to women, it has affected women disproportionately. This book is an attempt to capture many of the ways women are attempting to solve it, some more successful than others. In my case, any idea of 'balance' went completely out the window when every aspect of my life had to be put on hold for six months of breast cancer treatment. Fortunately, I'm still around and with a better perspective on how I should be spending my time.” Henneman will also be signing copies of “TORN” at Dillon’s Bookstore on Thursday, May 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. The university and local patrons fund the Dances with Words series.