Interview with Jeffrey Eaton

Published 2014-10-23.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I spent my formative years in Kansas. It influenced my writing heavily in that it is the home of the William Allen White Award for children's books. Each year we would receive a list of the books considered most outstanding by librarians throughout the state. You had most of the year to read the books and then on a given day, every kid between fourth and sixth grade would vote on the very same day for which book they thought should get the award. We would make posters promoting the book we wanted to win and have rallies for our favorite books in the days leading up to the vote. It was very exciting and cultivated my desire to read not just popular books but books that told meaningful stories very well.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing at age four. One of my first stories was called Mister Chicken Pox and I remember it vividly. A kid feels very shunned because he has chicken pox and he hunts all over for a friend to play with. In the end he learned it was the chicken pox, not him, that made people reluctant to play with him. Wow. And what is really funny is I did not contract the chicken pox until my senior year in college!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy for me is sitting back in the chair and letting the stories and dialogue unfold in my mind without trying to force them. Sometimes it is all I can do to capture via the keyboard all the detail I am seeing, or just the right cadence of the conversation. I love letting the people and the stories appear on their own and then tailoring them to create a tale I think mystery lovers will enjoy.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
It is hard to limit my list to just five. Certainly as a boy I was enamored with "A Wrinkle in Time" but I also devoured The Hardy Boys Detective Series. Other books during that period that stand out in mind are "The Phantom Tollbooth" and "The Egypt Game". In my teens, I graduated to Agatha Christie mysteries, but also to more serious literary fare like "The Chosen" by Chaim Potok and "A Tale of Two Cities". In college, my favorite book was "Madame Bovary" by Flaubert. In my adult life, I have a broad range of books I enjoy, from "A Thousand Acres" by Jane Smiley (my favorite book of all time), "A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain", "The Round House", "The World According to Garp" and "Let The Great World Spin", to name a few. Other authors that I love include Joyce Carol Oates and Donna Tartt.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Twenty years ago, a cult of anarchists who had assassinated an American congresswoman got taken down by a very smart college student at Cambridge who identified the assassin through a set of offbeat clues. Today he is a world renowned architect and he and his team are in New York unveiling their new design for a skyscraper there when a woman is found murdered elsewhere in the hotel. A calling card on her corpse tells Lee and the authorities the organization is responsible for it although her connection to them is extremely difficult to piece together. The team sets off to find the murderer...and eventually one of their own stumbles into the killer's crosshairs.
What makes the "Murder Becomes" series different from other murder mystery books out there?
Two key things, I believe. First, each book casually introduces readers to the architecture of the location in which the murder takes place. In "Murder Becomes Manhattan", we learn a lot of interesting background about some of the major skyscrapers built there over the years. And in "Murder Becomes Miami", the Deco architecture on South Beach and its restoration will be the star.

Secondly, the eBook version of each novel has hyperlinks scattered throughout the story. The links take readers to photos, videos, music and other online experiences that breathe new life into the story and make reading the novels unlike reading just about any others out there for now. You can even work the same acrostic Dalton Lee is grappling with in "Murder Becomes Manhattan" and access the recipe for the grilled cheese sandwich he craves.
With whom do you think the 'Murder Becomes' series will resonate?
I believe it will have a much broader audience than do many murder series. People who love to travel will appreciate it since they convey so much detail about the cities in which the murders occur. People who love architecture will enjoy the books since one learns a lot about that as well. The team of detectives is quite diverse, so I believe men, women, Asians, Puerto Ricans, Northern Europeans and Canadians will enjoy reading them since they all can find someone on the team to relate to. And of course, anyone who is looking for a little more suspense, mystery and intrigue in their life will love the "Murder Becomes" series for sure.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am at the gym a lot -- 4 to 6 days a week. These days I do more cardio on treadmills than anything else but I still love weightlifting. I am a big traveler, of course, having had the good fortune to work in more than 40 countries on five continents before the age of 30. And I construct word puzzles -- acrostics and crossword puzzles -- that have been published in the top newspapers and magazines.
Describe your desk
My desk is very neat and tidy but eclectic. In addition to the typical office supplies, I have a rice paper and metal lamp in the shape of a martini glass (with olive) that was crafted by an artist friend in Oklahoma City. I also have a desk clock given to me by an organization whose writers I have trained extensively over the years. Always nearby -- a clipboard with a legal pad clipped to it. I am a huge maker of lists.
What are you working on next?
Next will be Murder Becomes Miami. Dalton Lee and his team must solve a murder by The Organization carried out amid all the streamlined glamor of the Deco architecture on Miami Beach. A reviled college football coach is the one murdered this time and, as in Murder Becomes Manhattan, Dalton and his team will have to piece together a diverse set of circumstances to figure out why the Organization had him murdered. The revelation of the murderer's identity will be pretty thrilling as well, I believe.
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Books by This Author

Murder Becomes Manhattan
Series: Murder Becomes. Price: $1.69 USD. Words: 94,090. Language: English. Published: November 11, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Murder Becomes Manhattan is a creepy, clever, fun-house of a murder mystery that will have readers' hearts racing up to the very moment the murderer's identity is revealed. Why did The Organization kill socialite Caitlyn Drysdale and how did she intersect with their plans for world domination? Clues abound and so do links taking readers to online photos and videos that enhance the book's intrigue.