Jeff Bond - Kidnapping, Murder, Manhunts and Conspiracy
Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have been featured in The New York Review of Books, and The Pinebox Vendetta received the gold medal (top prize) in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters. As our Author of the Day, He tells us about his book, The Winner Maker.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Winner Maker is about.
The Winner Maker tells the story of Bob Fiske, a polarizing high-school teacher who goes missing, and the four ex-students who reunite to find him. The students were part of Fiske’s “Winners,” an elite group of high achievers.
What inspired you to write about a 74-year-old who goes missing?
At its core, The Winner Maker is about ambition. I wanted to write about the allure and pitfalls of ambition—but give readers a fast-paced, entertaining story along the way. The idea of this controversial teacher disappearing, then being sought by all these intense personalities he’d helped create, allowed me to do both.
Reviewers say the story consistently moves in unpredictable directions. How did you pull this off?
I do a lot of upfront plotting to facilitate twists and reversals in my stories. Then, in the revision process, I get feedback from several waves of beta readers to make sure they’re coming off as at once believable and surprising.
Which character was the most challenging to create?
Bob Fiske, the title character. He’s extremely important to the story, but because he’s mostly offstage, I had to evoke him through the eyes of other characters.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Having two elementary-age daughters, I’ve become a decent winder of ponytails. It’s satisfying getting the hair through that last loop you weren’t sure you could make.
But don’t ask my girls—they’ll deny it.
Why did you title this "The Winner Maker"?
The missing teacher’s club of favorites is called “the Winners.” In a sense, he makes them so by elevating them over others in their class.
What is the best writing advice you’ve received?
I had the privilege of working with Peter Gelfan, a fine editor and author in his own right, who told me early on, “Trust your readers.” Overwriting is perhaps the most common fault of beginning writers, and he helped me overcome it.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
You really have to read the whole book to get the message in your bones, but the Cliff Notes version is this: True, durable happiness only comes from within.
When working on a new book, what’s the first thing you do?
I always start with a blank page in a notebook titled, “Stuff.” For a couple weeks, I’ll just jot anything interesting that pops into my head: a neat setting, some plot twist, snippets of dialog, random thoughts about theme. Gradually, these disparate pieces start to suggest a full-blown story. That’s when I sit down and start outlining.
Do you consider yourself a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule that you stick to, or is it more in the moment?
I’ve learned to be disciplined over the years. I started when I still had a regular 9-to-5 job and only had an hour or two in a dark café each morning to write—I had to get right down to business. Though I’m always striving to finish books faster, I’ve generally managed to keep that same focused approach.
What are you working on right now?
I have new entries upcoming in two series I began this year. Power Rip will be the sequel to The Pinebox Vendetta, which won a gold medal in the 2020 Independent Publishers Book Awards; and The Begonia Killer is book #3 in the Third Chance Enterprises series, whose first two entries both received stars from Kirkus Reviews: Anarchy of the Mice (“A raucously entertaining actioner with a sting of social satire”) and Dear Durwood (“An entertaining, richly imagined action yarn with intellectual bite”).
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My author website, www.jeffbondbooks.com. You can also find me on Facebook or Twitter, where I post updates and short stories featuring the protagonists from my Third Chance series.