We’re proud to welcome Reg Quist as a part of the CKN Christian Publishing family. Quist’s writing interests lie in many genres including children’s work, short lifestyle stories, cowboy poetry, western novels, plus Christian articles and novels. His first novel with us, The Church at Third and Main will be released this week, so we got a chance to ask him a few questions!
CKN: How did you get started writing?
Reg Quist: I didn’t really discover the joy of reading until my mid 20’s. From that time onward I was seldom far from a book. My main interests were western Canadian and American history, WW-1 and WW-2 histories, and western novels. Along with those was an over-all interest in Christian belief and practice.
I left school early and took no post-secondary education except for night school writing courses and writing seminars. My knowledge of composition and story structure was rudimentary at best. Still, I found myself with an urge to put thoughts on paper. But living a busy life with a wife and three children plus full-time involvement in the construction business and the challenges of life on a small farm, kept me reading but not writing for several years.
In my 40’s, with a bit of free time and a lot more life experience, I started writing short pieces. Having no clear direction, I wrote on many topics, from children’s interests to cowboy poetry to Christian articles. I sent a few early efforts to magazines and have a file of rejection letters as a tribute to those frustrating times. I also have a file of typewritten, pre-computer pieces that were not worthy of publication but were helpful in my learning the writing craft.
From that slow beginning, I found myself becoming more determined to write seriously. Being raised on the prairies and coming from a generations-long farm and ranching history, plus being a devotee of Louis L’Amour, Elmer Kelton and other western writers, it was natural for me to write westerns.
My first several efforts are stored safely away in a private file. I see them as practice pieces. Mac’s Way, my first complete novel, came out of all that waiting, reading and practice writing.
CKN: Do you write your stories based off of personal life experiences?
RQ: Not really. Not the westerns, at any rate. No one living today can totally understand the life of 1850 to 1900. Every writer studies the history of the times they are writing about but that is an outline at best. I was fortunate to have grandparents who were there in the early years. Much of their history is preserved in family records and hearsay legends. I probably lean more to their personal experiences than to my own. All four of my grandparents lived until I was in my teen years. I treasure their remembrance and am awed at what they accomplished.
Still, even coming late to the pioneer era, growing up on the prairies and having many farming and ranching families on our family tree, left a love for the land and all it contains. Even though I have lived on the Pacific Coast for many years I could never write a fishing story. I have no feel for the topic. I very much have a feel for the land of the West.
The Church at Third and Main, which is a Christian story of the modern era, will be recognized by most Christians and could be said to fall within my personal experience.
CKN: Was there a specific moment in your journey of faith that led you to begin writing Christian novels?
RQ: It would be difficult for a devoted Christian to not bring some of his beliefs into a story. That does not mean that the protagonist must preach a sermon. But it does mean that the writer’s world view will almost certainly show itself through his words. The Christian or ‘religious’ parts of my stories are an outgrowth of my world view.
It would be more accurate to say that my stories contain elements of the Christian faith rather than saying I write because of my Christian faith.
CKN: Are there any authors that inspire you?
RQ: There are several and they are widely dispersed through the genres. I have all the Louis L’Amour books and re-read them frequently for my light reading times. I love the way he gets the story told without getting bogged down in excess words.
My favorite western author is Elmer Kelton. His early stories are masterpieces. I frequently re-read him as well. I admire the way he tells stories that so closely reflect real life. I could ask for no higher praise than that someone would read one of my stories and say, “That really could have happened.”
I admire other modern western writers as well but some are Facebook friends and in the interests of peace in the digital family I will leave them unnamed.
For the love of story and the use of the English language Charles Dickens, although outdated in style, is still a great read.
CKN: What types of books do you enjoy reading?
RQ: Westerns, adventure; Clive Cussler, etc., history, politics, modern military, Christian.
CKN: What does an average day look like for you?
RQ: I’m a news junkie. I take my coffee to the computer and check out the world as I get ready for the day. Bible reading and personal devotions, and then writing, take up the remainder of the mornings. My wife and I usually find something to do together after lunch although I may sneak back to the current story if possible. Evenings are for reading while watching sports on TV. We don’t watch anything else on TV.
CKN: Who are your biggest supporters, and do they read your books?
RQ: I have a small but loyal following from family and friends. I give a copy of each book to my own children and grandchildren. Everyone else purchases them. I like to believe that the positive comments from readers are because they enjoyed the stories and not just because of our relationship. Overall, the feedback has been very positive.
CKN: Ultimately, why do you continue to write?
RQ: Many writers have said they write because they can’t not write. The couple of times I have thought to pursue another hobby or craft have come to nothing and I find myself telling myself stories. Putting them on paper seems to be the sensible thing to do.
In whatever I write I hope to have the reader lifted up in some way, as well as entertained. That would bring me great satisfaction. As a Christian, if my efforts can somehow bring Glory to God nothing could be better.