While everyone gets comfy, I’ll start the interview today with a little Bio about Jeff…
Jeffrey J Burger was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, moving to the Gulf Coast of Florida at the age of 28, where he still lives today with his German Shepherd, Fritz. Jeff returns to Chicago on a regular basis to visit family and friends.
Originally drawn to law enforcement like his father and uncle, Jeff’s extremely creative nature drove him toward a rewarding career in photography, illustration, design, marketing and advertising. With the successful launch of his first book; Wings of Steele – Destination Unknown, he has been able to add writing and publishing to his repertoire.
Jeff’s choice in career and life in Florida have offered some truly unique experiences which he continues to enjoy. A certified NRA Instructor, Jeff has worked with civilians, Military Personnel and Law Enforcement Officers from many agencies. This has afforded him the opportunity to regularly handle and become proficient with firearms of all types, new and vintage, from all over the world.
An affinity for aircraft and flying have provided many opportunities to fly with talented civilian and military pilots in a wide selection of fixed wing and rotary aircraft. While Jeff finds jets to be supremely exciting, nothing beats the sublime sound or primal feeling of a piston-driven Rolls Royce Merlin V12 in a vintage P51 Mustang.
Thank you very much for joining us today, Jeff! It’s a pleasure to have you here. Can you tell us more about your latest book?
Wings of Steele – Destination Unknown is the first of a series and at over 161 thousand words it’s been referred to as an epic novel, something I had never really heard of until now. The book spans over a year, sent in current modern day, following it’s main character Jack Steele and a well-rounded supporting cast of characters.
Jack Steele is a regular guy but a no-nonsense man’s man who can think and fight on the fly. He’s an alpha male who makes a better leader than a follower but he’s humble about it. An ex big-city cop that left the department after losing a friend in the line of duty, he has to cope with a rough divorce and reinvents himself through a love of flying, restructuring his entire life as a pilot for hire. Everywhere he goes his German Shepherd, Fritz goes with, including flying. The book starts off in Florida, using real places to create a realistic world with things the reader will find familiar. The beginning has a sinister hint to it and my readers have said it seems to pull them into the story. The beginning chapters do not hint at the science fiction structure of the book, the reader has to trust me that we will get there. The early chapters are a slow burn but the plot contains a snap-turn that leave most readers off balance and jumps into the action with both feet in a dead run. The story weaves some real world history, into some epic legends to create a familiar and believable turn of events that launch the characters into space for the real body of the novel.
It’s about coping, exploring, thriving, and succeeding against the odds in an unforgiving universe where luck, karma and your own beliefs collide. Friendship, ethics, values all come in to play. It was alot of fun to write and I’m halfway through the sequel.
This sounds great!! Adding to it my ‘To Be Read’ pile…woot! Tell us about your main characters, are they people you would be friends with in real life?
Oh, absolutely. Although the characters are fictional, their personalities are based on real people. Some of the characters are an amalgam of more than one person, giving them a totally different personality. In this way, I was able to create well-rounded characters that felt and responded like real people. Joy, sorrow, arrogance, pride, anger, sometimes they don’t behave well – because some people really don’t, they have human foibles, they make mistakes. The truly neat thing is that sometimes, in a way, the characters do the writing for me. If I get to a stopping point, sometimes they come up with the solution on their own – occasionally opening up a part of the story I wouldn’t have thought of if not looking through their eyes, so-to-speak.
So you ARE friends with your characters! Can you share with us where the inspiration behind your writing comes from?
I’ve always been a science fiction fan, the technological possibilities always fascinated me the most. As a kid I was always reading the stuff, I couldn’t get enough. Then if you start reading about the Bermuda triangle, which is one of many on our planet and combine that with the Nazca Lines in Peru some of the science fiction stuff starts sounding a little more plausible. Kind of freaky really. My story had been in my head for a long time, probably close to 10 years before I got a chance to actually work on it. It started formulating in my early 20s just coming to me in segments – very strange. But I didn’t type and I couldn’t see myself sitting there with pen and paper. But it kept developing in my head, for years. When PCs finally came out, I knew it was time.
I love Science. I make a bowl of popcorn when Ancient Aliens is on. The Science our acenstors used fascinates me. Anyway, back on topic. You’ve led quite an interesting professional life, can you tell us more about it?
That’s actually quite an involved story, so I’ll do my best to shorten it. There was a substantial family law-enforcement quotient in my life and I started in that direction. I saw it as an exciting, honorable and personally rewarding career. But I got a lucky break to use some of my creative talents which threw me a curve and offered me an alternative. It was a hard choice, but I ended up jumping at the chance. I started out as an illustrator and photographer working freelance for a national monthly trade publication. Learning the Adobe products on my own, I’ve worked as a Designer, Creative Director, Art Director and freelanced for small and large Fortune 500 companies. I’m freelancing again, which includes working on my next book. I’ve never really forgotten law enforcement and have a lot of friends and acquaintances in agencies and military service. I try to practice with them fairly regularly but it’s been a little less lately, considering I’ve been writing and editing so much.
What has been the most rewarding part of your writing journey so far?
Sales. I joke… that’s very cool though, to know people are finding my work interesting. Hearing from my readers is really the most amazing part. Knowing I’ve struck a chord in their lives, thrilled them, touched them in some form or fashion through the book. I’ve been blessed with some really well thought out reviews and some really nice praise. It’s good for the heart. I put up a website so readers can contact me direct. I respond personally to each and every email and I’ve met some really cool people.
Readers are our rewards, aren’t they? So, tell us what you like to do when you aren’t writing…
You mean there’s something besides writing? Just kidding. Normally I bicycle, go target shooting with the guys, go to the beach, run with Fritz… but lately I’ve been going through a cover to cover detailed editing of the first book – getting it ready for print. That is absorbing a ton of time.
You’ve been chosen as a Human Ambassador to greet an Alien race and are whisked off to the International Space Station tomorrow. You can bring one novel along with you to share with your alien friends, what would it be and why?
I know this is a hypothetical but I don’t think it would be possible to narrow down all of humanity’s literature to one special enough to represent them all – and I certainly couldn’t choose, even among my own favorites. I think I would be inclined to cheat and fill a Kindle or iPad to its limits and take that with me. Probably not the answer you were looking for…
(Are you SURE this is a hypothetical question *looks over shoulder*) LOL Yeah, picking one book would be nearly impossible. Do you have any advice for budding writers?
Write about topics you are passionate about and well versed in. Read other authors work in that genre, and remember what makes their work great in your eyes. You don’t want to emulate their style, you’ll develop one of your own… but you want to emulate their qualities. And, from personal experience, you can only proofread your own work to a certain point, get help with that.
I love your advice…all true! Jeff, what can we expect to see from you in the future and where can we find your work?
Wings of Steele – Destination Unknown is currently available on Amazon.com and I’m hoping by late September it will also be available in print. I will be adding it to other sites thru Smashwords as well, for all the other digital formats. Destination Unknown is the first of a planned Trilogy, but I have recently developed plot lines for two more extensions of the series.
Wings of Steele – Flight of Freedom is the second book in the series and by the time of this article it will most likely be 3/4 complete. Readers are able to contact me through the website and I am creating a mailing list to keep my readers up to date on progress.
They all sound great!! So, before we go…if you could choose any Author, living or dead, to read your book, who would you choose and why?
I think it would have to be Edgar Rice Burroughs… He was born in 1875 and died in 1950. His work in fiction series was so far ahead of the curve for his time… I couldn’t get enough of it. He was influenced by HG Wells, Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling and he influenced some of our more modern greats like Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke Robert A. Heinlein and James Cameron. He created Tarzan, how awesome is that? What would our fiction history be like without that legendary character? And heck, he was born in my hometown of Chicago!
I can’t imagine life without Tarzan. Truly…I can’t.
And now…*rubbing hands together* it is time for our Rapid-Fire questions!! Ready…set…go!
Beer or Wine? Wine. I’m actually allergic to beer, gives me migraines.
eBook or Real Book? There are some books I’d really rather hold in my hands, but I’m going to have to go with e-book for the amazing convenience and portability. And of course if it wasn’t for e-books, I’d still be unpublished.
Beach or Pool? Beach. A pool is a tremendous amount of work.
Shoes or Bare Feet? Shoes, usually. Unless I’m at the beach.
Star Wars or Star Trek? Ooohhh… too tough to call. 50/50 split for totally different reasons. That would be a whole other interview!
Pants or Shorts? Shorts.
Sweet or Sour? Sweet, absolutely.
A Partner That Does Laundry or A Partner That Gives Amazing Massages? That’s not even a competition – massages, most definitely. Why, is anybody offering?
LOL That was an amazing interview Jeff! Thank you so much for your time, it was a pleasure learning more about you and your work. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of your book! Jeff Burger can be stalked online on Facebook, Twitter, and his Website.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke
Jack Steele is an ex big-city cop that left the department after losing a friend in the line of duty. Recovering from a tough divorce, he reinvents himself with a love of flying and restructures his life as a pilot for hire. Accompanied by his ever-present German Shepherd, Fritz, Jack will fly almost anything, anywhere, shuttling new & used planes for clients all over the world. He had never been a Boy Scout, but he is a man who likes to stay prepared and in control of whatever life throws at him. But nothing could have prepared Jack and his co-pilot when life suddenly goes drastically and violently
sideways… in a direction and magnitude that no one could have ever anticipated. Wanted men, it seems like everyone on the planet is hunting for them and their only option is to run… but to where?
An epic science fiction adventure that reaches from the surface of our familiar planet and the safety of terra firma, to the dark, vast expanse of deep space and distant star systems.
Available NOW on Amazon!