Murder, he wrote

Alumnus transitions from ad copy to crime fiction

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Murder, he wrote

Michael Craven

The hero in Michael Craven’s first book, Body Copy, is a former surfing legend named Donald Tremaine. Tremaine, now retired from the sport, lives in southern California in a trailer with his elderly dog Lyle and works as a private investigator. His latest case involves the unsolved murder of a popular, successful advertising executive.

Craven (BA ’92) is a former ad agency executive. And he surfs. But there, he maintains, is where the similarities end.

“I love crime fiction,” Craven says, relaxing in the lobby of the St. Julien Hotel in downtown Boulder, Colo. “I began to develop the story around some of the things I knew.”

“The characters are meant to feel real but all are composites and creations of my imagination.”

Craven, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., has had an almost 20-year career in advertising, his last three and a half years spent as a senior copy writer and creative director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky, an international advertising firm with offices in the U.S., Canada and Europe. Craven’s work with CP+B includes ad campaigns for Microsoft (remember those ads featuring Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Jerry Seinfeld?) and Burger King.

“I always wanted to be a writer of some kind,” says Craven, whose undergraduate degree from UGA was in English.

After graduating he moved to New York to look for a job. He wound up working as an assistant to the creative director for Grey Entertainment, a firm that promotes entertainment events. Craven admits he knew nothing about advertising when he took the job, but after watching the process for a while decided to try his hand at copy writing.

“I just asked,” Craven says of his jump from assistant to copy writer. “You have to ask for it and so often people say yes.”

Following that, Craven worked for MTV’s in-house advertising agency and then to TBWA/Chiat/Day in Playa Del Ray, Calif., where he worked with more general clients outside the entertainment industry. He joined Crispin’s Boulder office in 2007, first as a senior writer and then as associate creative director, and then as a vice-president and creative director.

Craven resigned from Crispin in February to focus his attention on a second novel.

“I realized that if I wanted to write my next book, I had to take the time and just do it,” he says. He won’t say much about the new book, just that like his first, it will be a crime novel.

“I never like to talk too much about a work in progress,” he says. “Hopefully it will be an evolution of my style and of the genre.”