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