Book Nerd Interview
Eddie Jones is a North Carolina-based writer and Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Writers Conference and his Young Adult novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Award in the Pre-Teen Fiction/Fantasy category and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult fiction. Dead Man’s Hand, the first book in the Caden Chronicles mystery series, is now available from Zonderkidz.
He co-writes the He Said, She Said devotions, available atChristianDevotions.us.
His latest adult novel, Bahama Breeze, is a humorous romantic suspense available from Harbourlight Books. Eddie’s new devotional book, My Father’s Business, features Biblical insights and practical applications from the the lives of Jeremy Lin, Bruce Wilkerson, George S. Patton, and more.
Have questions about the book publishing industry, the writing process or any of my books, send me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
My sophomore year of high school I began writing for my high school newspaper. Our teacher-advisor said, “Eddie, you can't spell and you’re a terrible grammarian.” But she liked the way I strung words together, so I won a spot on staff. My senior year another English teacher, told me I wasn’t ready for college. She was right. NC State rejected my application. A few days later I made an appointment with the admissions office. The day of my interview I wore a pair of red and white polyester pants my mom made me, white shirt and a red tie. State admitted me into Industrial Arts, which I thought would be pretty cool since to me Industrial Arts meant painting buildings. I flunked English 101 twice before passing with a D. I graduated from N.C. State four years later with a degree in English/Journalism. I’m still a lousy proof-editor but I learned long ago storytelling trumps grammar.
What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
That friends are worth more than the education. Seriously, you can learn a lot more online through remote learning than you can from sitting through classes taught by dull teachers but online learning can never replace cutting up with friends in class and studying together. If I were to fix the education system in this country I would start with relationships. Once kids feel they belong with a group and in a place they’ll learn.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Quit your day job. Steven James told me this five years ago. His point was, if you don’t have a fall back plan you’ll find a way to make a living as a writer. He is correct - not to mention a very successful author.
What are some of the common challenges that new and experienced authors face and what advice do you have for over-coming them?
Lack of understanding of plot, how to hook the reader on the first paragraph of each scene, over writing (explaining how someone ate an apple: peeled, cut bit, swallowed, for example: “He chewed.”) lack of conflict on every page and in every section of dialogue. Too few hurdles, low stakes and characters without motivation, depth and compassion.
For those who are unfamiliar with your novel; Dead Man's Hand, how would you introduce it?
First, it’s a fun, fast read aimed for middle school boys. I think girls and moms will enjoy it too: we’re getting nice reviews on Goodreads from teachers and mothers. But my aim is to give boys a book they can enjoy, one taps into today’s fascination with the occult. This is the first book in the Caden Chronicles series and each story involves one element of the supernatural. Book one explores the concept of ghosts, spirits and what happens to our souls when we die.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Nick?
That I misnamed him. In the first manuscript I named him Boyce Kindle. Forget why. Stupidity, probably. The publisher tested the name with readers and Boyce lost big time so I changed it to Nick, like, Dick Tracy but with an N. Plus he get’s nicked up in each book. The other thing is the K is a hard “kah” sound and that’s always good with a lead character. We dropped Kindle due to copyright concerns with Amazon and went with Caden: again a hard “kah” sound.
Why do you feel you had to tell this story?
I’m seldom that motivated. I enjoy writing and I’m passionate about writing for boys and getting them jazzed about reading. So it’s not so much the story as it is the reader. The Caden Chronicles series is aimed at getting kids and parents to discuss paranormal themes: ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc. I want to bring in a biblical perspective on this. Not to preach, but to show how all these concepts can be found in the Bible and that scripture probably played a role in the development of the paranormal craze. For example, in book two, The Skull Creek Mystery, we explore the idea that Christ said, “Drink my blood, eat my flesh” and now we have this whole biting neck thing going on.
Do you have a favorite quote that you keep visible in your work environment to help inspire you?
Sometimes I’ll sign my books, “Wherever you’re going, that’s where you’ll be. Set a course for your dreams, today!” I’m a big believer that if you set sail for your dreams you will probably reach them. Of course, like Columbus, you might find other treasures along the way, but those are bonus dreams.
If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I’d love to have Tom Sawyer make a cameo appearance in the Caden Chronicles. I’m a huge fan of Tom and think he and Nick would hit it off. But then they’d end up fighting over the girl and be rivals for a while but then they’d work it out and be best buds at the end.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Wrapping up The Skull Creek Mystery, and still have about a third of the book to write for Dead Calm, Bone Dry, the second book in the Caribbean Chronicles series. That’s a pirate fantasy series. Also working on a romantic comedy called Summers’ Love about a best selling author who pays a church lady to ghost write his romance novels.
What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style?
Your voice is your soul. My writing is a reflection of who I am: a smart aleck always aiming for the joke. If you’re a deep thinker, that will come out in your writing. If you’re quick witted, that will reveal itself in your dialogue. So don’t overreach on voice. Write like you talk on the rough draft and read other writers that make you laugh, cry and think. Chances are, they are your peers.
Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
Don’t have best places, have best waves surfed. Costa Rica: the other side of the river from Tamarindo there’s a break called Casitas. At mid-tide it peels down the beach. Last year I caught waste high and had the break to myself for two hours. White Sound on Elbow Cay. Hollow reef break. Boilers on the Outer Banks. It’s at the first parking lot as soon as you enter the Pea Island refuge. Or was. It’s been years since I caught it good. The BVIs and Abacos for sailing, plus the Pamlico Sound. My favorite place I guess is Cape Lookout, North Carolina. You can only get there by boat and if you surf and sail it can really be a sweet place.
What book are you reading now?
Oh, wow, it’s not “book” but books. I read lots at the same time. Always a Dave Barry book of some type, plus my Bible. I have an old John D. MacDonald book by my bed and a Carl Hiaasen book. On my Kindle I have Oswald Chambers’ His Utmost, plus a bunch more.
Who was your first girlfriend?
Serious girlfriend? Terressa Newton. I broke up with her and haven’t seen her since. Think about her sometimes, but she’s the ghost that haunts me.
Tell me about your first kiss
Sherry Johnson. Her basement. We were watching TV. She had her back to the wall, I moved in and she turned her face at the last moment. I hit the wall. We laughed and then had one of those chilly-dog kisses. Wet, and sloppy and memorable.
What's the memorable summer job you've ever had?
Working at a pizza place near Wrightsville Beach. I’d graduated college and was living with my aunt. I’d roll out of bed, hit the beach, surf, rinse off and drive to work. Made pizzas until 11 pm, then cleaned up the restaurant while listening to beach music on the jukebox. Repeat next day. I had a college degree and was working as a pizza boy. Life was good and easy and hasn’t been as easy and good since.
What did the last text message on your phone say?
Dunno, just deleted all my messages. I have a dumb phone so I can’t reply except to say “K” when someone tells me they’re doing something. I like email.
When was the last time you cried?
A long time ago. Mom died last year but I didn’t cry. She was suffering. Plus, I find humor where others find grief. Don’t have grandkids yet so no tears there. Maybe it was the year after Dad died. I was on my sailboat alone and Dad was good at fixing stuff. I’m not. I remember sitting in the cockpit with my Bible reading a passage and just missing him. Wasn’t a big cry but I remember that.
Where can readers stalk you?
I’m pretty good about staying on Facebook. Twitter some but I never really got Twitter. I’m too long winded. So yeah, Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/EddieJonesHumor
The adventure that author Eddie has created for Nick definitely has all the elements for a wild-west mystery. Although the town has an infatuation with Hollywood trickery, it will have readers scratching their heads trying to figure out if the murder is real or staged. It feels like a mystery within a mystery and it was a facet of the book that makes it unique from other mystery novels. Eddie’s writing style is the perfect tone for this kind of story. Exciting and fast-paced, it will appeal to readers of all ages. The dynamics between characters, especially with Nick’s family are among the high points. Nick’s immovable coherent view of things is a refreshing approach to mysteries as it deters away from seeing things coming from a mile away. And it was the case for Dead Man’s Hand, it will have readers guessing throughout until the end.