I’d like to introduce you to the forty-fourth interviewee in my ‘Meet the Author’ series. He is Jeff Gerke.
Hi, Jeff! Welcome to Susan Finlay Writes blog site. Can you tell us a bit about your background as a writer?
I entered the publishing industry in 1994 as a novelist. That’s when I received my first contracts, for a trilogy of near-future technothrillers. Following the release of the third novel, I landed a job with that same publishing house as an editor. That began my dual career as writer and editor.
Over the ensuring years I worked at three publishing houses, wrote three more novels, and began co-writing nonfiction books. I also did lots of articles and short stories for magazines.
In 2008, I launched my own small publishing company: Marcher Lord Press. We produce science fiction and fantasy with a spiritual edge. It’s fun to have been on so many sides of the publishing table.
Your most recent book, Write Your Novel in a Month: How to Complete a First Draft in 30 Days and What to Do Next, will be published in July, 2013, and is availabe for pre-order on Amazon.com. Can you tell us about it? How did the book come about?
This is my third fiction how-to book for Writers Digest. The other two, Plot Versus Character and The First 50 Pages, are selling well, so WD was interested in another book from me. I wanted to write an official NaNoWriMo book, so we approached the organization, but that didn’t work out. So we shifted the name a bit to attract the same audience.
But not a NaNo book only. It’s really my entire philosophy and teaching on how to plan a novel (character creation, three-act structure, etc.), how to write it (fast), how to revise it (craftsmanship), and how to market and publish it. It’s a book every novelist would benefit from, I think, not just those wanting to write quickly.
Your book, Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction, was published in November, 2010, by Writers Digest Books. Can you tell us about it?
I believe every novelist is either a plot-first novelist or a character-first novelist. By that, I mean that every novelist has something that occurs to her first and easily about a novel, either plot/story ideas or character ideas. That’s the thing you’re probably best at. In contrast, you’re probably not so good at the other thing.
I’m a card-carrying plot-first novelist, which means that, left to myself, my characters would be really bad: stereotypes (the surfer, the girl), two-dimensional, or all sounding like me but with different moods and roles (the mad girl, the greedy guy).
Even though I felt my plots were great, I knew that my characters needed help. A tennis player won’t make it as a pro if all he has is a good backhand but no forehand. So I set about to figure out how to create realistic characters for my own fiction. The result of that effort is now the first portion of Plot Versus Character.
The second portion, about plot, came more easily for me, but what was revolutionary about it to me was that I was now letting plot be in partnership with, and even in service to, the main character’s inner journey.
It’s a balanced system of how to create great characters and wrap a ground plot around them. Whatever kind of novelist you are, it will help you improve that portion of your writing you’re weaker at.
Your book, The First 50 Pages: Engage Agents, Editors and Readers, and Set Your Novel Up For Success, was published in November, 2011, by Writers Digest Books. Can you tell us about it?
After the success of Plot Versus Character, I wanted to follow up with another craft book. I realized I had a ton of teaching material—not to mention strong preferences—on how to begin a novel well in order to set up the rest of the book to succeed.
It’s amazing how many things those first 50 pages are doing, but more than once it struck me as ironic that I was writing a 200-page book on how to write 50 pages.
You also wrote The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction and UFO’s and the Christian Worldview. Can you tell us about those?
The first is a compilation of about half of my fiction writing tips that I’d written for my Web page WhereTheMapEnds.com.
The second is a white paper chronicling my research and conclusions on the UFO and alien phenomena.
You’ve also written short stories and published six novels, including a trilogy of near-future technothrillers, under the name Jefferson Scott. We’d love to hear about your novels. Tell us more.
You can read about my previous writings at http://www.JeffersonScott.com. Jefferson Scott was the pen name I used back in the day.
I’ve had two trilogies published. The first features virtual reality Ethan Hamilton and his growing involvement helping the U.S. government on a number of dire near future threats involving high technology.
The second trilogy, the Operation: Firebrand novels, involves a privately funded covert military team that goes to the world’s hotspots and conducts high-tech missions of mercy.
Of all your books and stories, do you have a favorite?
No. All of my novels and non-fiction books hold special places in my heart.
I’m currently writing my first new novel in nearly 13 years. It’s a very politically incorrect science fiction about what might happen if liberalism ruled the galaxy and then a truly savage alien race invaded.
You hold a BS in Film Production from the University of Texas. Do you ever think of making a film adaption of one of your novels?
Actually, all my novels were book versions of my movie ideas! The movie deals weren’t exactly coming along, so I started writing down my story ideas as books. I never thought I’d then have a career in publishing. I thought I was going to be doing movies.
But, yes, all of my novels would make terrific movies!
What is your favorite or least favorite part of writing?
Favorite: Having created the novel. Least favorite: Creating the novel.
LOL, it’s hard work, and usually no one cares if you do it or not.
What books or authors have inspired you the most? If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The two works of entertainment that made me want to become a storyteller were the original Star Wars (1977) and The Lord of the Rings. I discovered the former when I was 12 and the latter when I was in college. Both blew me over and made me not only want to tell stories of my own but to make them speculative.
I don’t have a writing mentor.
Please list any websites or social media links for yourself or your book. Thanks!
I’d like to offer you a free month of FictionAcademy.com, which is the portion of BestsellerSociety.com that I run. You can see professionally recorded streaming video of all my teachings on how to write great fiction. Go to either site and subscribe using jeffgerke as the coupon code. That will get you a free month of not only FictionAcademy but all of The Bestseller Society, which also includes NonfictionAcademy and MarketingAcademy.