Sunday, March 12, 2006

Pro-File: Jeff Abbott

Jeff Abbott is the national-bestselling, award-winning author of eight mystery and suspense novels. Jeff's novels have been called "exciting, shrewd, and beautifully crafted" (Chicago Tribune), "fresh, original... intricately woven" (Publishers' Weekly), "nail-bitingly suspenseful and totally original" (Irish Independent) and "excellent" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel).

Jeff is a three-time nominee for the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award and a two-time nominee for the Anthony Award, given at Bouchercon (aka the World Mystery Conference.) All of Jeff's Whit Mosley suspense novels have been honored with nominations for major writing awards: A Kiss Gone Bad was short-listed for the Anthony Award; Black Jack Point was nominated for the Edgar, Anthony, and Barry Awards; and Cut and Run was nominated for the Edgar Award. Jeff's first novel, Do Unto Others, won both the Agatha Award and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. His other books include The Only Good Yankee, Promises of Home, and Distant Blood.

Jeff's short stories have been anthologized in collections such as Best American Mystery Stories and The World's Finest Crime and Mystery Stories.

Jeff was born in Dallas and grew up in Austin and Dallas. He graduated from Rice University with a degree in History and English, and worked as a creative director at an advertising agency before turning his attention to writing. He lives in Austin with his wife and two sons.

Pro-File: Jeff Abbott

1 Tell us about your current novel.

FEAR revolves around three very different people: a federal witness hiding from the mob, an ex-TV celebrity, and a young soldier, who all survived horrifying experiences. Their lives and their minds have been scarred by severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Their psychiatrist--who involves them in a new research project to eliminate traumatic memories-- is murdered, and the three of them, despite the challenges of their mental illness, must run for their lives while trying to find the miracle cure that could give them hope for a normal life. FEAR will be out in August from Dutton, along with the paperback release of my last book, PANIC.

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

I'm just getting my ideas together for the next book; but I'll have three short stories out in the fall that I recently wrote: "A Few Small Repairs" in RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE MURDER, edited by Harlan Coben; "Tender Mercies" in DAMN NEAR DEAD, edited by Duane Swierczynski; and ""Seize Your Future" in THESE GUNS FOR HIRE, edited by Joe Konrath.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

I still can't believe I get paid to make stuff up. And I love getting to work at home and have more time with my kids.

4. Thegreatest DIS-pleasure?

This will sound odd, but I kind of hate it right after a book is done. I'm relieved and happy but out of sorts. I feel like my muse has gone on WIFE SWAP and not bothered to come home. RIght now I've finished a book and am just starting to think about the next one, so it's that odd creative lull. Fortunately it never lasts long. I usually get my ideas in the shower so I tend to be very clean during these times.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

We should all work together to find ways to expand the reading audience. Millions of people who don't normally read novels bought THE DA VINCI CODE--so how do we keep them reading?

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

I am so happy that Eric Ambler's wonderful thrillers have been reissued recently in nice trade editions. And I'm very glad Ross Thomas is being reissued again. When I speak to book clubs or writers' groups, they are two authors I always recommend. I just discovered Adam Hall's terrific Quiller novels and am enjoying them.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I had a cunning plan. I approached two editors at the end of a conference to ask if I could send them the first three chapters of DO UNTO OTHERS, and because they were Southerners I thought they would be too polite to say no. I had spoken with them both previously and had not been pushy (that's so key) and both editors kindly said sure, send me your book. So I did, and six weeks later they both called within two days of each other to offer multi-book deals. I didn't even have an agent yet. It was surreal but obviously a big thrill.


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