Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Joe Hefferon. He is the award-winning author of The Last Meridian. Joe is a retired law enforcement officer who writes Crime and Mystery novels and short stories.
Crime, Mystery, Nonfiction
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Joseph Hefferon retired from law enforcement after twenty-five years in the city of Newark, NJ and now writes full-time. Scattergun is the first of a series. His novel, The Last Meridian, was released in May, 2017
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
Congratulations on your book: The Last Meridian. Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Countdown to Osaka. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Thank you. Yes, Countdown to Osaka is scheduled for release on December 4th. It's a much more faster paced work than my last novel. I consider it my homage to Elmore Leonard, one of my favorite authors in the genre.
A tease? Action, snappy dialogue, sword play, shootouts, one very tough woman and a touch of noir. It's the story of a young woman named Koi, a Japanese yakuza enforcer who wants to leave the life. Before her bosses grant her wish, she must complete a near-impossible task; hunt the notorious French gunrunner, Le Sauvage, get the information he has to a huge cache of gold in Osaka and then kill him. All this as the life of her precious mother ticks away.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
It's difficult to judge if my activity on Twitter translates into sales or just more activity on Twitter. The key is to connect with readers. Writers, publishers editors and others in the industry are good retweeters, exposing your name and work to hundreds of thousands, so it helps. Much of my following I developed after several years of writing profiles of interesting, successful women for About.com. I've stayed connected with many of the women I interviewed and continue to be inspired by them. Developing a following of readers in my runway is a work in progress.
You do book signings, interviews and personal appearances. When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
I haven't done any events but I will this time around. Stay tuned for details.
You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them.
How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?
I use a terrific graphic artist,
Jeroen ten Berge.
He does more than just book covers. Jeroen is in demand across an array of design channels. He gets the marketing and branding aspects of art and he's helping me develop a brand in my cover designs. I provide him with a manuscript and synopsis and then I just leave him be. I do not involve readers in the development; I leave that to professionals. My publisher is good about giving us the freedom we need to create great covers.
You have written several novellas. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work? Do you feel short reads are a product of our email and smart phone age?
The short works have not had much impact on the novels. I agree that the internet has shortened the attention span of readers in terms of news and features but readers of fiction don't seem to be affected by the quick-read culture. I do, however, lament the demise of long-form interviews and reads like those in the Paris Review. I like the concept of giving more space to allow ideas to percolate on the page.
What writer support groups do you belong to? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?
I fly solo. I write late at night when the world goes to sleep. If I lived in a city like Austin or Savannah, I could see myself spending time in a downtown bar slingin' ideas with writers who are much better than I am, so I can improve the quality of my writing. I try not to get caught up in too many 'writerly' things just for the sake of doing them.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I've given some away to book bloggers and for the most part they are an appreciative bunch. They usually deliver what they say they will although I've had a few who took the book and never returned my emails again. It's all good. I appreciate the feedback and you never know which review will touch the person who recommends your book to an influencer who can turbo-charge a career. I was timid about doing any promotions for The Last Meridian but I'll certainly participate this time around.
What is your primary genre? What has been your best marketing approach to this group?
I confess to being a Raymond Chandler wannabe. I like the old movies, the iconic characters, femme fatales and noir themes. I tried my hand at it with The Last Meridian to mixed reviews. I had a lot of fun writing Countdown to Osaka so I think I'll stay with the action/crime theme for a bit. We all like to think there's a literary novel in us but I know I'm late to the game and professionally, I'm not ready for that. I may never be. I'm working on a hardboiled drama set here in New Jersey based on real events.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I don't use software. The books start as a conversation, either between two characters or something introspective. It begins with dialogue and a place, then I begin to work on who that person is and how/why they ended up there. Where do they need to be? I develop their intention and let it go. I plan out a chapter or two ahead but I'm not one for outlining. If I were organized I'd be an accountant.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
I've gotten some nice reviews from book blogger sites so I'll continue to work with them. I haven't really used professional sites. I'll assume you mean outfits such as Kirkus. I'll continue to work to broaden my platform and connections through all outlets available to me. I've recently discovered Instagram. I primarily post images that fit the theme of my current book so you saw a lot of 60's Hollywood imagery for my last book and lately I've posted images depicting Japanese culture, the French, crime etc.
Author's Book List
The Last Meridian
The Last Meridian – crossing it was her only choice.
WINNER: Pinnacle Book Achievement Award – Summer 2017 – Best Crime Fiction
A telegram sets off a chain of events that destroys five lives, throwing Hollywood insider Nina Ferrer’s life into turmoil. The infant boy she gave up for adoption in Chicago sixteen years earlier has been arrested for murder. A plea from the boy’s adoptive mother pushes her to act, but Nina has a big problem—she never told her husband about the boy.
Nina must come to terms with her guilt, while accepting the reality of her fragile life and her cheating husband, who’s embroiled in another deadly plot. As her life unravels, the boy’s fate grows ominous. Set against the backdrop of the Hollywood heyday of the early 1960s, the quick-witted, smart-talking Nina, a designer for the well-heeled of Los Angeles, hires a private detective to uncover the facts about what happened back in Chicago, and save her boy. Maybe... just maybe... he can save her, too.
Or perhaps Nina will have to save herself, the most frightening prospect of all. To do that, she must cross The Last Meridian, the place beyond which life as she knows it will no longer exist.
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- Book II Texas Trilogy
Detective Lieutenant Chucho Zarate picks up the molecules of a decaying corpse drifting on the midnight air of Christmas Eve. No one in the small church notices, but his nose never lies; he knows some poor bastard has met a violent demise.
What he doesn't know is this murder will unlock an internal gate holding back a spree killer, soon to be set loose upon Southeast Texas.
As the bodies pile up and the frustration mounts, the governor orders in the Texas Rangers to end the madness, and Captain Lamar McNelly, the synesthetic lawman, leads the team.
Together, McNelly and Zarate find themselves in a race to catch a phantom, with the next victim just a happenstance away.
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- A Reckoning in Two Acts
Scattergun is the first short work in a series examining the dark side of the human condition, set in the aberrant world of a synaesthetic Texas ranger, Lamar McNelly.
Book One: Riding shotgun in the mind of a wandering killer, stalking the plains of the rural west, until a violent confrontation in a Colorado rail yard pits the cerebral McNelly against the mammalian brain of an outlaw.
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