I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Viles, author of The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story, and found his answers to my questions rather interesting. So grab a beverage of your preference and prepare to meet and learn a bit about the author behind an unusual and quite enjoyable new book out, The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story.
Interview with Jeff Viles, author of The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story!
Q. Hello, Jeff. I want to begin this interview by asking a bit about you. You’re a new author on the writing scene with your first book, “The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story.” Are you currently working on another project? If yes, will it be in the same genre, or subject matter. Do you enjoy writing about the supernatural? If you could choose a completely different genre to write in, what would it be and why?
J.V. Genre is an interesting quandary to me. I don’t think about it at all when beginning to write. I just hope I have an interesting story to tell that I can tell well enough to give the reader a pleasant experience. Let the genre fall where it may. My debut novel, “The Sasquatch Murder (A Love Story)” has been called “a genre-bending romp” and “a genre-bending novel that mingles love, myth, reality and humor in its big-hearted embrace”. That makes me think, along with many five-star reviews and a huge hug from foreword.com, that I’ve succeeded. Although this is my first novel, I’ve been around the writing scene for a long time. I’ve been on the board of the Missouri Review, a wellknown and highly-regarded literary quarterly, for many years and earlier in life had a short career as a journalist and free-lancer. Over many years in private entrepreneurial business, I continued to write short stories and then stick them away in a drawer. I’m now going back through and improving them with an eye toward a short-story collection. I also have a clear idea and have done some research toward another novel set in a small town. I still have business obligations (ownership of commercial properties) that have to come first, so my time to work on writing projects is quite limited. There are two different groups of investors looking to buy my business, Dunrovin L.L.C. (when you rent from me, you’re done rovin’) so maybe soon I’ll be able to devote full time to writing. I’d like to think literary fiction might be a genre that would eventually fit. I have no special urge to write about the supernatural. I’ll send along “Getting Even”, a short story that’s in a completely different style and voice than “Sasquatch”, as an example.
Q. What advice can you give/share to a new author based on your own struggles and resolutions you underwent while writing The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story?
J.V. Don’t give up. Keep putting words on paper until you have a first draft, then start the rewriting process. That may take several iterations to get something you think someone else would enjoy reading. Fiction is never finished, just abandoned. Don’t abandon it until you are proud of it.
Q. Did you research a lot for The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story? Can you take us through how you plan out your stories, do you use any special writing aids such as plot boards, computer programs, etc.?
J.V. I only use a one or two page, very simple outline which will change as the story moves along. I try to invent the characters and then let them tell me what they want to say and where the story will go. I don’t use any special plot boards or computer programs and the research comes up as the story unfolds. Research is so much simpler these days with the Internet standing by. When I introduced a grumbling Mt. St. Helen’s in this novel, finding the minutiae of volcanoes was easy. Also, I try to follow Hemingway’s advice to only stop the day’s writing when you know what’s going to happen next so you’ll be eager to get back to it.
Q. Why did you wait until this time of your life to become an author? Do you feel by waiting, you had an advantage through experience in developing your voice that other, forgive me, younger debut authors would not have? Do you attribute your life experiences in helping to write this book? Do you find it more difficult to be an author in this time, or is it easier for some reason?
J.V. I didn’t really choose to wait until I was long of tooth to begin seriously pursuing fiction writing. As mentioned, my business soirees were quite successful and I found I couldn’t, and still can’t, put that part of my life aside to work on fiction. I do think being older gives me confidence and the more life you’ve lived, the more you’ve experienced. That can’t hurt in establishing a voice and making the daunting task of fiction writing easier.
Q. How did you come up with the idea that the Sasquatch in your book should react to the killing the way they did. I think everyone was expecting violence and killing from them because of societies depiction of what they think ‘bigfoot’ or in this case, Sasquatch, are–monsters, underdeveloped primal beasts. Yet, you didn’t write them this way. What were you hoping to accomplish?
J.V. Plenty has been written about Sasquatch, or Bigfoot, as a big monster. I certainly wasn’t interested in another “Bigfoot kidnapped my baby” story. The plot device of Jake being charged with murder works well, I think, because it turns out the creatures are more like Neanderthals than monsters.
Q. What is the worse part of the writing process for you? Why? How would you overcome this and what advice can you offer those yet to be published writers who are reading this interview?
J.V. For me personally, and this might not apply to others, the worst part is simply finding the time to sit down and work. I would advise anyone trying to produce writing for publication to set aside the time and be sure to produce something that day, even if it’s only a few paragraphs and it’s no good. Get back to it the next day and make it better, or toss it out and start over.
Q. Is Jake the epitome of human nature in the book? Are his reactions to what was happening in his world typical of how many humans would react to the situation, in your opinion? What makes Jake valuable to the story? Why did you choose him? How did you hope he would be perceived by readers?
J.V. I hope Jake is a compendium of human nature and how he reacts to the series of unusual events is how most of us would react. Jake is smart, talented and likeable. He’s had his heart broken by being a young widower so I hope the reader is on his side and sympathetic to his pain.
Q. Who would you say propelled Jake toward achieving his goals the most in the story? Who would you say was the biggest barrier for Jake to achieve his goals? Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
J.V. Jake is a self starter but without his newfound love for Jessica he would be in deep trouble restarting his life. Losing a wife and partner has to be one of life’s toughest blows. I’ll have to demur on choosing a “favorite” character because there are quite a few characters we meet, each with his or her own appeal. I could make a case for every single one deserving to be a favorite.
Q. This is probably a silly question for you, and I’m asking you to reveal the deeper part of your thinking when creating the characters of your story… Why didn’t you give the sasquatch characters names? You gave them culture and a ‘tribe,’ a sense of ‘family,’ and ‘traditions’ but you didn’t give them names to identify with or be identified by. Did you feel this would have been too unbelievable? Or, perhaps, did you feel readers may not have found this plausible, pushing the story towards a more unrealistic feel than what you have given it as it stands?
J.V. The first decision was whether to make sasquatch singular and use sasquatches as the plural. Sasquatches sounds clumsy to me so sasquatch became both singular and plural, like deer. Giving them names would have been, as you say, implausible and would have interfered with the reader’s suspension of disbelief.
Q. What was the hardest moment for you to write about in your story and why? Did you ever laugh out loud at a spot in your writing? When and what was it?
J.V. Probably the hardest part of the story for me to tell was when Jake and Jess are having dinner with Jess’s parents and Jake is being asked to tell his life’s story and his worldviews. I reworked that several times. I did laugh out loud several times at the HeeHaw’s tavern crowd and their tales and sayings. I hope and believe the reader will get a kick from those scenes as well.
Q. Do you have a support system you rely on in your writer life, family or friends in particular that you field ideas on? What sort of support do they offer and is this valuable to have as an author?
J.V. My beautiful and talented domestic partner Rebekah is my first reader. She looks for small things, typos, misspellings, etc., but she also looks for believability and continuity. This is extremely valuable to any writing, whether it’s a new novel or a grocery list.
Q. What message are you hoping readers take away from reading your book?
J.V. I’m happy to report that the feedback so far is exactly what I hoped for, that readers are having a good time with it.
Q. Okay, I’m sure you get asked this a lot. Do you believe in supernatural beings such as sasquatch, bigfoot? Why? Why not?
J.V. It may seem like a copout, but I’m truly a sasquatch agnostic. If they don’t exist, there’s a mountain of circumstantial evidence and sightings all over the world to explain away.
Q. You’re selling an interesting twist on the typical bigfoot stories in giving the beasts a heart. This is similar to Harry and the Hendersons, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this story, but in it, “Harry” as he is named by the humans he befriends treat him like a person, and “Harry” is shown to have feelings and family, just like your story. Is your version of the sasquatch stemmed from your own humanity? Do you prefer to believe them more human-like than beast?
J.V. I’ve seen the movie “Harry and the Hendersons”. It was cute but not very believable as potential reality; more like a cartoon version. I think this novel from the prologue on treats the subject as something that could be real. As mentioned, the plot point of having Jake charged with murder only works because the creatures clearly possess a raw humanity.
Q. Will you ever revisit the characters in your book to write about them again?
J.V. I had no plan or intention to revisit these characters. However, several five-star reviewers on Amazon mention the potential for a sequel so that makes me think again. I’m working now in a very different direction but after that, who knows?
Q. Where do you do most of your writing? Is there a special room, place, time of day that you prefer? Do you prefer quiet or are you someone who would rather have the television on, or, be listening to music while you wrote?
J.V. I have a nice, glass block enclosed computer room and an up-to-date PC that I pound away on. I like it completely quiet. If I’m stuck, I might put Wolfie Mozart on low volume and sip a little good wine. That seems to make me think I’m smarter.
Q. What is your most favorite part of your book? Why?
J.V. I’m trying not to post a spoiler with you, but when human beings and sasquatch interact, which is not supposed to happen, I think it makes for a dramatic scenario.
Q. Okay, there was one spot in the story that I sort of went, huh? Strange as it might be, it was when the sasquatch were on their mission to retrieve the female’s body and they encountered dogs… The sasquatch handled this by throwing meat at the dogs… Can you take me through this part by sharing what you were hoping to show the reader at this point. Why didn’t the dogs attack, wouldn’t that be more expected? How would these creatures know what it would take to appease the dogs enough to prevent an attack? What were you thinking as you wrote these sections?
J.V. Again, being careful not to give away too much, I think creatures that are Neanderthal-ish and live in the wild would know how to handle wolves, coyotes, bears, and certainly dogs. One dog does attack and barely lives to regret it.
Q. Where do you see yourself in ten years from now with your writing career? Do you have any aspirations that you would like to share with my readers?
J.V. In ten years, especially if my business buyout happens, I would hope to have written and published four or five more successful novels that were at least dressed in literary lipstick. (And maybe I would have been appointed benevolent despot of planet earth so we could get our problems straightened out…..smirk)
Q. If you could describe your book in one sentence to new readers, what would you say to encourage them to read The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story?
J.V. Based on clear evidence and feedback thus far, you will enjoy reading this novel and, as several readers have reported, might not be able to put it down.
This sadly concludes my interview with author, JEFF VILES. My thanks to Jeff Viles for spending some time with me and sharing his insights about his latest and fascinating book: The Sasquatch Murder, A Love Story, Available now for purchasing!
“The Sasquatch Murder (a love story)”
Jeffery Viles | July 25, 2017 | Beaver’s Pond Press
Hardcover | 978-1592987696 | $19.95
e-book | 978-1592986750 | $7.99
To my readers: If you enjoyed this interview, leave your comments below, like, and follow me in order to keep up with the latest reviews and interviews, and to let me know you’d like to see more. Thank you for visiting.
And remember: Support an author, buy a book, leave reviews, help the world embrace reading in a positive light!