Gerald So: What caused the hiatus between WICKED BREAK and LIQUID SMOKE, and how did the new book come about?
Jeff Shelby: The hiatus between WICKED BREAK and LIQUID SMOKE was the result of several things. My previous publisher decided they were no longer interested in publishing the series. Disappointing, but that's part of the business. I had already written LIQUID SMOKE and really felt it was the best thing I'd ever written. My agent at the time tried to find it a home, but had no luck. We worked on selling several other projects but didn't find any success there, either. After a lot of thought and discussion, I decided to leave my agent. I don't say "fired" because my previous agent did everything she could for me and we worked hard to put some things together, but just didn't have any luck. It was more about needing to start over. We parted very amicably. When I signed with Stacia Decker at Donald Maass Literary Agency, she felt we could still breathe some life into the series and that it still had legs. Fortunately, Tyrus agreed and wanted to publish it.
Gerald: How much "story time" has passed between WICKED BREAK and LIQUID SMOKE? Has your view of Noah changed since you began writing about him?
Jeff: In LS, there's a very quick reference to "a few months" having passed between WB and LS. (I actually had to look it up because I wasn't sure!) In my mind, I had it as about three to four months having gone by between the two books.
I think my view of Noah has definitely changed since I started writing about him. He's been forced to mature and make some tough, adult decisions over the course of the three books. He's made some decisions that I didn't necessarily think he was capable of when I first started writing about him. And at the end of LS, he's about as far from the guy we met at the beginning of KILLER SWELL as he could possibly be. He's become far more complicated than I ever thought he'd be, but as a writer, I love that because he's far more interesting to write about.
Gerald: What's next for you?
Jeff: I've started the fourth Noah book. I know exactly where it's going and because of how LS ends, it'll be far different than any of the other three previous books in the series. I'm also diversifying my career - in January, Kensington will publish STAY AT HOME DEAD, written under the pseudonym Jeffrey Allen. It's the first of three books featuring a stay at home dad in small town Texas. It'll probably be described as a humorous cozy, but really, it's just a goofball mystery that might make few people laugh.
Visit Jeff's website.