Cramer, W. Dale
CRAMER, W. Dale
Married Pam Crowe, 1975; children: Ty, Dusty.
Home—GA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Bethany House Publishers, 11400 Hampshire Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN 55438.
Novelist. Also worked as an electrician, part-time construction worker, and homemaker.
Sutter's Cross, Bethany House (Minneapolis, MN), 2003.
Bad Ground, Bethany House (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.
Contributor of articles and stories to periodicals.
In the world of Christian inspirational fiction, W. Dale Cramer has emerged as a writer of unusual depth and sensitivity. As Donna Scanlon noted in Rambles, too much of this writing in the past has been "thinly disguised sermons proclaimed by cardboard characters," but that is changing as a new generation of writers has emerged within the field. For Scanlon, "Cramer's debut novel Sutter's Cross establishes itself firmly among the shining lights at the zenith" of the genre's resurgence.
Sutter's Cross takes place in a small Appalachian town in which residents know each other. Into this close-knit community comes a scruffy, homeless wanderer named Harley. While many of the townsfolk are suspicious of the stranger, Miss Agnes Dewberry takes him in, and Jake Mahaffey and his wife Lori find themselves drawn to the man. Told mainly through Jake's eyes, the story centers on Harley's conflicts with a fundamentalist Sunday school teacher and a greedy developer trying to gain control of Miss Agnes' land. "Cramer utilizes a skill beyond that of most new authors, with his captivating characters, flawless plot, and thoroughly professional and honed narrative prose," noted Denise M. Clark, in a review for the Curled up with a Good Book Web site. Christianity Today contributor Cindy Crosby found that "Cramer's fresh writing has a muscular toughness that's balanced by the vulnerabilities of his characters."
Another uprooted wanderer takes center stage in Bad Ground, but this one has a particular reason for showing up. When young Jeremy Prine's mother dies, he is given a letter in which she urges, or more nearly commands, him to seek out his Uncle Aiden, the brother of Jeremy's long-dead father. So Jeremy drops out of school and hitchhikes to Georgia to find his uncle, getting robbed and beaten along the way. Nicknamed Snake, Aiden is a bitter, alcoholic recluse who blames himself for the death of his brother in a mining accident. At first he discourages Jeremy from hanging around, but Jeremy perseveres, even getting a job in the hard-rock tunnel where Aiden works. Eventually, the two reach an understanding and find themselves healing each other's losses and griefs.
While Dramer's tale of forgiveness and redemption is somewhat familiar, "the well-developed characters never fall into the cookie-cutter stereotype of being 'too perfect,'" commented Library Journal contributor Tamara Butler. Aiden is a particularly complex character, and he increasingly becomes the focus of the story more than the more innocent Jeremy. According to Robert Lamb on SouthernScribe.com, "Almost too late but not quite, Bad Ground, becomes character-driven instead of plot-driven, which is what it wanted to be all along." For Road to Romance online contributor Laura V. Hilton, "Cramer is a master story teller and I look forward to reading more of his work."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, January 1, 2003, John Mort, review of Sutter's Cross, p. 845; January 1, 2004, John Mort, "Top 10 Christian Novels," p. 284.
Christianity Today, March, 2003, Cindy Crosby, review of Sutter's Cross, p. 79; June, 2004, Cindy Crosby, review of Bad Ground, p. 64.
Library Journal, June 1, 2004, Tamara Butler, review of Bad Ground, p. 64.
Publishers Weekly, December 23, 2002, review of Sutter's Cross, p. 46; April 12, 2004, review of Bad Ground, p. 35.
Curled up with a Good Book Web site,http://www.curledup.com/ (December 14, 2004), review of Sutter's Cross.
Dale Cramer Home Page,http://www.dalecramer.com (December 31, 2004).
Rambles.net,http://www.rambles.net/ (September 20, 2003), Donna Scanlon, review of Sutter's Cross.
RoadtoRomance.com,http://www.roadtoromance.ca/ (June 14, 2003), Laura V. Hilton, review of Bad Ground.
SouthernScribe.com,http://www.southernscribe.com/ (December 14, 2004), Robert Lamb, review of Bad Ground; Pam Kingsbury, reviews of Sutter's Cross and Bad Ground.*