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Between the pages, Past
A Mystery Column
By Dennis Collins

Interview with Jeffery Stephens


In July I had the opportunity to review Jeffrey Stephens debut thriller, Targets of Deception. I was impressed with Jeffrey’s writing style, the flow of the book and the flawless pacing. It was a great story to boot. I just knew that I had to catch up to this guy to see what made him tick. Here is what he had to say.

Myshelf: When did you first know that you wanted to become a writer?

Jeffrey: The truth being told, I have been writing since I was in elementary school. I began scripting puppet shows, went on to write plays and short stories and eventually found that I enjoy creating novels best of all. In recent years I was fortunate enough to find my agent, Bob Diforio, and the rest as they say is history.

MyShelf: Targets of Deception has been listed as your debut novel but I suspect that there is more to this story. Can you tell us about it?

Jeffrey: I have completed several novels and hope some day to see them all published.


MyShelf: Targets of Deception deals with international terrorism. Will this be your niche in the literary world?

Jeffrey: I certainly intend to continue writing thrillers, but also enjoy other styles including mysteries, family sagas and even humorous books.


MyShelf: Do you have future plans for your main character, Jordan Sandor?

Jeffrey: Jordan Sandor will return in a sequel, Targets of Opportunity, to be released early next year by Simon & Schuster. We are very excited about the book because it is topical, well paced and hopefully an irresistible page turner. My editor, Kevin Smith, and I are hard at work at the final changes as we speak.


MyShelf: Has your background as an attorney helped you with your writing? Provided seeds and ideas?

Jeffrey: My background as an attorney certainly helps since lawyers constantly deal with language and the need to persuade. It has also given me the opportunity to meet any number of interesting people upon whom many of my characters are based—including Jordan Sandor. I have actually written a courtroom drama that sits in my drawer waiting for a final rewrite.


Myshelf: Who are the authors that influenced your writing style?

Jeffrey: I believe writers are influenced, at least in some measure, by everyone they read. I would never be so vain as to compare myself to the great writers of the past, but I can tell you that my favorites include Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Salinger. As to contemporary writers of popular fiction, I read everything by Vince Flynn, Ken Follett, Jon Land, Jeremy Robinson, David Baldacci, Steve Berry and the late Robert Ludlum.


MyShelf: Many of our readers here at MyShelf are aspiring writers. Any advice you’d be willing to share?

Jeffrey: The most important thing aspiring writers can do is to write. I know this sounds obvious, but it was good advice I received some years back in a book on writing by George V. Higgins, author of The Friends of Eddie Coyle among other excellent novels. Higgins said, “Writers write,” and he was correct. Too many people who want to write tend to talk about writing, waste their creative efforts describing their stories to others or simply procrastinate. There is no shortcut in life to becoming good at anything without hard work and practice, and this particularly applies to the creation of stories that are worth reading. You often hear advice about writing what you know, but tell that to the J. K. Rowling or Ray Bradbury. They created worlds that don’t even exist. The key is to simply write what interests you. Never let your doubts or frustrations get in your way. Never worry about whether or not you will be published or how many copies you will sell or any of that applesauce. Imagine who your audience is and then write what you love. If you do that, it will all work out for you in the end!

Read Dennis' review

2010 Past Columns