Meet Author Jeffrey Leever
Marilyn: I first met Jeffrey this past May at Mayhem in the Midlands which is always in Omaha Nebraska. I have a grown grandson in Nebraska somewhere I haven't seen since he was three--whose name is Jeffrey. Jeffrey Deaver has the right coloring and build--and he's a writer like me--so I couldn't help but wonder. I knew I'd be sorry if I didn't ask, so I did. Well, he isn't my grandson, darn. But we had a lot of fun with it at the conference.
So, Jeffrey,I hope I didn't freak you out about the grandson thing, but I thought it did add a bit of a spark to things and people actually asked me if you were my grandson.
Before we go too much further with that, though, tell me about your background.
Jeffrey: No problem, Grandma Meredith. I took it as an honor. I would much rather be referred to as someone's grandson than other things that are less endearing. :) Besides, isn't that one of the reasons why we authors go to conferences -- to make new fans, friends...and relatives?
I'm a lifelong fan of the mystery genre who went to college in the Midwest as an English major. I also studied journalism and have worked in PR and marketing. I've been writing stories since my early 20s. In the past three years, I've written a pair of suspense novels, Dark Friday (in 2007) and my most-recent book, The University. Both are trade paperbacks and available in, or through, bookstores as well as your favorite .com bookseller.
Marilyn: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Jeffrey: Probably in high school or maybe even a little before. I was a kid who always liked to read. I remember some of my friends and peers who I was in sports with even mocking me a little because of it.
Marilyn: How much difficulty did you have finding an agent and/or publisher?
Jeffrey: I battled with this like most authors, I think. I found my current publisher through a writer's group I was in when I lived in Colorado a few years ago. I also had an agent at one point who I met at a writer's conference. She's pretty much retired now, though.
Marilyn: What inspired this book?
Jeffrey: The University is a mystery set on a college campus and involves a missing student and an unsolved murder. Back when I was in college in the Midwest, a faculty member once told me about a seldom-used series of tunnels that existed beneath the campus. It was a network that connected a bunch of buildings and even led underneath a few of the student dorms. Plus, it was an area that wasn't well-monitored by campus security...or so the story went. Anyway, that unnerving little tidbit was still stuck in my head 15 years later, and I thought it might make for an interesting backdrop for a novel.
Marilyn: Who do you see as the audience?
Jeffrey: Adult and young adult mystery readers. Plus people with short attention spans who haven't read a novel for pleasure in quite some time.
Probably my favorite unintended audience are moms who have teenage sons "who won't read" -- then they get a copy of either Dark Friday or The University...and I end up getting fan mail a few weeks later.
Marilyn: What are your future plans as an author?
Jeffrey: I'm working on a couple of novels right now and hope to have something else out by 2011 or 2012. I also dabble in non-fiction and am fond of both humor books and children's books. I also enjoy writing scripts. I guess my plans are to just keep writing and having fun with it until my hands wear out.
Marilyn: Now, back to Mayhem in the Midlands. We were on a panel together--frankly I can't remember the name of it, just who was on it. One panel I was on and you weren't, was Religion in Mysteries. It was an interesting group: an atheist who wrote a scholarly non-fiction book debunking all religions, a former priest who no longer believes at least in his former religion, a gal who wrote about a Muslim and Jew who were both in love with a Christian, another who dabbles in the black arts, and me a Christian who writes about Native American spiritualism. What I'm wondering is why didn't you get asked to be on that panel?
Jeffrey: You and me both. :) I don't really know. Instead, I typically end up on the panels that talk about how to kill off characters or something along those lines. I would've loved to have been on that panel.
There's a definite spiritual element to both of my stories. In fact, one of my books -- in a previous incarnation of the manuscript -- was actually under contract with a Christian publisher at one point. But that editor left and I ended up taking it somewhere else.
Everyone knows, of course, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Some people see my books and think right away that I'm this hard-core horror guy. That's not really the case. My stories are not really "Christian," per se, but they also aren't totally secular either. I refer to them more as "dark mystery with heart."
Marilyn: See, we really do have a lot in common. Anything else you'd like to tell my blog readers?
Jeffrey: How about I tell them something that I haven't even told you? You bear a physical resemblance to my late grandmother on my mother's side. Seriously, I'm not making it up. Coincidence? Your readers can decide.
If anyone is interested, either of my novels can be sampled at:
Marilyn: Be sure and let us know where we can get your book.
Jeffrey: If someone has trouble finding a copy of either of my books locally, I have lots of links on my website at www.jeffreyleever.com, including a specific "Retailers" page with all the pertinent info. Thanks for reading our interview!
Marilyn: That was fun! Thank you for answering all my questions, Jeffrey.
When investigative journalist Kevin Gibson lets his cousin, a former cop, talk him into looking into a student's disappearance at Tremont University, he gets more than he bargained for. A former student--injured in a brutal attack two years ago and in a coma--may hold a critical piece of information that can solve the mystery. Meanwhile, an attractive coed continues to hide a very dark secret.
Tremont junior Brett Duncan is determined to find out what happened to his best friend, who's gone missing. Along with his girlfriend Ciera Kindle, Brett is drawn into a cunning world few know exist--a conspiracy involving faculty, students, and some well-connected people in high places. Beneath the campus' wholesome exterior lie many secrets, and a pulse-racing mystery with plenty of chills along the way.