Lloyd Jeffries - A Twisty, Inventive, and Unexpected Mystery
Lloyd Jeffries enjoys dark comedies, philosophy, clever turns of phrase, religious studies and thought experiments involving the esoteric and legendary. A decorated veteran of numerous conflicts, he served in the U.S. military and has practiced Emergency, Trauma and Wilderness medicine for more than twenty years. He hides out in Florida with his family and Buck the Wonder Dog. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, A Portion of Malice.
Please give us a short introduction to what A Portion of Malice is about.
A Portion of Malice is the explosive story of a suicidal reporter plunged into a world of prophecy, deceit, barbarity and ancient evil. Can he save Humanity…and himself?
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
I was inspired by a thought experiment involving biblical questions for which I had no answer. Although the book isn’t religious, it will make you question your beliefs and think about today’s world. I enjoy new twists on the ancient world and how those events shaped today’s belief systems.
Tell us more about Emery Merrick. What makes him tick?
Emery is a flawed reporter with a good heart. He’s lost his wife, his job, everything, but continues to persevere against incredible odds. Despite being appalled by the new world in which he finds himself, Emery finds himself truly interested in the story he’s pursuing and the immortals which surround him. He realizes this is a once-in-a-lifetime tale that offers his life some small purpose. He never expects things to rocket out of control and drag him into a world of immortals, prophecy, redemption and shock.
The book starts with Emery Merrick pressing a pistol to his temple. Why did you take this approach?
With truly nothing left to live for, Emery thinks things can’t possibly get worse. Then he’s made an offer he can’t refuse and plunged into events that outstrip his capacity for comprehension. I wanted to show Emery at his lowest, then have his mind blown as Humanity hangs in the balance. To quote Emery: “In the end, I should’ve pulled that trigger.”
The book has some deep, emotional themes, including spirituality, redemption, and the world we live in. Why did you find this important to write about?
I hope to change the conversation about religion, redemption, God, and the plight of humans as we float through the universe atop our tiny speck of dust. With religion, some things don’t add up. It’s important to me to present a specific, yet truthful, approach and to make one challenge those things they’ve been taught. Combining lore, myth, prophecy, historical events, and religious fables, I present a truth that can’t be disputed and will blow your mind as you consider Emery’s tale.
The story reminds a bit of the work of Stephen King. Was this intentional? Are you a fan of his work?
I’m a big fan of Stephen King, but not just for his catalog of excellent work. When I started this journey, King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, became a solid textbook and set me on a journey of self-exploration, discovery and, ultimately, a working knowledge of the art of the written word. I credit Mr. King with opening my eyes to the “truth” of character, pacing, world building, cadence, rhythm, etc. He adjusted my perspective and made me realize the difference between a professional novelist, a storyteller, and an amateur.
Interesting cover. Please tell us more about how it came about.
Like many things on this journey, the cover developed organically. Starting with some rough ideas and the help of a talented cover artist, we were able to build a cover that pulls you in while also portraying certain feelings and themes: Tension, suspense, prophecy, fear, religion and, above all, malice. The eyes give a certain ominous feel and guide one to a story where suspense and emotion become overwhelming, chilling and palpable. The pace blisters like the world where Emery finds himself.
Readers say the book is really fast-paced. How did you pull this off?
I like short chapters that resonate. When I read a book, I like it to keep me off balance while I trust the author to sew up everything at the end. I think the relentless pace of a A PORTION OF MALICE is born from my own likes and dislikes. After that, the story shaped itself and became an epic thrill ride while staying true to the roller-coaster ride that is Emery’s story.
What was your greatest challenge when writing A Portion of Malice?
Grounding the reader. Without a doubt, early versions of my novel suffered, and I struggled with how to retell a “bible story” in such a way as to keep readers captivated. After much trial and error, I did an experiment using a character named “Emery”. At first I thought he’d play a small part, but then he took over and my story came to life in vivid, gut-wrenching detail. He grounds the reader and puts them in the story as if they’re living it themselves.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Sticky notes, lots of sticky notes. I write them everywhere, use them, move them around, write new ones, crumple old ones. Just any thought that hits me in a certain way gets jotted and stuck in my office. After that, I’m not sure I have average writing days. It varies so much based upon the flow of words, ideas, where my mind is at, fatigue level, stress level. I find everything helps my writing, from watching movies, to listening to music, to just sitting and thinking. Although I work on my books daily, on some days I don’t write at all. I’m very mindful, almost mystical, in how I approach my art and I often feel like an outside observer riding on the shoulders of some magic river.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on book IV of the AGES OF MALICE series, THE TEMPESTS OF TIME (working title). Book II (A MEASURE OF RHYME) and book III (EMBERS OF SHADOW) are written and will be published in 2023. Sigh, so many ideas, so little time.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My website: www.Lloydjeffries.com
Feel free to say hi or ask a question. A question I often ask my readers: What was your favorite part and favorite character? Feel free to drop me a line. Let’s talk!