Meet The Author
John Jeremiah is the product of a Jesuit education which equipped him to take any side of an argument on a moment’s notice. He hitchhiked around the USA and spent a fair amount of time following the Grateful Dead and trying to write short stories. His wanderings brought him to an old colonial seaport town on the Massachusetts coast. He fell in with a group of artists, writers and musicians who occupied semi-abandoned mill buildings. Eventually, he made his living restoring 17th and 18th century homes. After being disastrously burned in a house fire, he turned to the more genteel trade of antique dealer. This led to a growing expertise in antique oriental rugs. He spent many years as a gallery owner and international traveler and trader in old Persian carpets. He wrote and lectured extensively on that subject and is an internationally recognized expert. Four of his short stories have recently been published on Akashic Books’ web site. He is an alum of the Yale Writers’ Conference in 2014 and 2015, where he workshopped part of this novel. A second book about Declan Curtis is in the works.
1. What do you like best about writing?
I like it best when it’s over! Sometimes you get in a zone where your characters are functioning in their own universe and you are just a voyeur. When it’s really working, the voyeur disappears.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always been a storyteller. I had named, imaginary friends as a small child. Now my imaginary friends are adults, and some of them are dangerous.
3. Which author has inspired you the most?
I’ve read thousands of mystery and crime novels from Wilkie Collins to Robert Mosely. I’ve been influenced by dozens of them. But Elmore Leonard is the strongest modern influence. His clean dialogue sparkles with wit and reality.
4. Who is your favorite author to read for pleasure?
5. Do you write on a specific schedule or as the mood strikes?
I can go through periods where I am very productive. When I’m in the zone I can write 1,500 to 2,000 words a day. I obsessively tweak them for hours, and then I do it again. All that said, I am not in the zone all that frequently.
6. Do you outline your books or see where the story leads?
I’m not an outliner as such. I usually work off of a key premise and see where that goes. My favorite writing experience is that miraculous moment when one of your characters answers some bit of dialogue and you ask yourself, “Where did that come from?” And suddenly, that character takes you in an unplanned direction. Somewhere in the middle of the project, an outline becomes a useful tool. But as a famous WW2 general said, plans are absolutely necessary before a battle but useless after it begins.
7. What do you admire most in books you read by other authors?
I need a sympathetic protagonist, regardless of his flaws. And I love dialogue that seems natural and drives the story. And I like a strong sense of place.
8. What irritates you the most in books you read by other authors?
This is a bit trivial, I suppose, but I get annoyed by obsessive descriptions of a room or lists of the contents of someone’s pockets. I want memorable people and lively dialogue.
9. What’s the favorite compliment or accolade you’ve received for your writing?
One critic said “I see a movie!” Of course, we all want a shot at that, but I’ve often been told that my writing is cinematic. I like that because I usually have a mood from a favorite film or book when I’m constructing a scene. I once stopped writing and re-read Camus’ The Stranger just to get myself in the right mood to write a 1500 word scene. I usually don’t use direct references to movies or books. So, when someone senses it I am pleased.
10. What’s your favorite quote about writing?
An Elmore Leonard character in Raylan said:
“I always felt, you don’t have a good time doin’ crime, you may as well find a job.”
I feel that way about writing.
by John Jeremiah,
$3.99 ebook, $14.95 paperback
Declan Curtis is a bohemian Oriental rug dealer who is fond of single malt, fine food and Emily Dickinson. His idyllic existence is disrupted when his wife runs off with a mutual friend. He starts drinking too much and taking chances. While doing business in Zurich, he is offered a dicey proposition. In Tel Aviv he meets with a mysterious paterfamilias known as “Uncle.” He agrees to be a middleman in a ransom deal between Uncle’s Russian Jewish family and a Russian mob in Brighton Beach in Brooklyn. This almost costs him his life and thrusts him into an underworld of thugs and murderers. In the end he has to face a dangerous mob boss on his own and make what he calls “Bonhoeffer’s leap,” a moral decision about dealing with an evil man.
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