|Welcome to our New Faces column, where we are pleased to introduce some of the newest mystery authors on your local bookshelves. This time we're visiting with Jeff Schneider, whose sports-themed mystery The Fix tells the story of big broadcasting, organized crime, and a plan to fix the NCAA Final Four. It's available from ViviSphere Publishing.
Jeff, welcome to The Mystery Reader! Tell us about yourself.
Presently I'm a development director at Holy Rosary Academy in Louisville, Kentucky, an all-girls Catholic high school. I was born and raised in Louisville. I have degrees in English and Journalism. I'm married with three children, ages 14, 12, and eight. I played college basketball and worked as an administrator in a Division I athletic department as sports information director. I've dealt with every media request in the world. And I've also dealt with every ego in the world, from player to coach to university president.
Are you coming to mystery writing from another job?
Yes, however, when I took my present job, I made it clear I was a writer first and foremost. The understanding was that if I took the job I could write whenever I wanted. It's been a great situation. However, writing novels is something that should be done full-time. I can't think of any other professional in the world where someone expects you to perform at maximum capacity part-time. Just can't be done. So since I've published my first novel, The Fix, things are going to change. When? I don't know. But they will.
What led you to write mysteries?
I've always enjoyed writing, basically. As a kid I used to read Edgar Rice Burroughs. The stories took me places, and I was fascinated. Later in college I began to really want to express myself. I started working for the Louisville Courier-Journal in the sports department at nights. I wrote for the college newspapers and various magazines. It gave me an outlet. Later I started reading John Grisham. A Time To Kill prodded me to tell the stories I had.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
I began The Fix back in 1992. Some year or so later I finished it, or so I thought. I sent it out and was rejected one after the other. Then I took it to two friends, editors at a major newspaper. They helped me out. I sent it out again. I was rejected again. Finally I landed an agent in 1997. We worked on the novel together and sent it out to all the major publishers. We got a lot of great bites, even a potential movie deal, but nothing worked out. The agent decided to curtail her list. I was curtailed. I put the book aside and worked on two others. One day a friend of mine saw the novel on my office floor. She asked to read it. Two days later she came back and said she didn't sleep because she had to finish the book. It told me something, so I approached The Editorial Department and worked with them in the summer of 2000. I acquired another agent in New York in the fall of 2000. ViviSphere Publishing offered a contract in December of 2000. I rewrote parts or all of the book nine times during these nine years.
Any special research involved for The Fix?
I lived my first book. I think that's the best research of all.
Tell us about some of the writers who have influenced you.
I have been greatly influenced by many writers, some magazine writers, but none more than John Grisham. His first two novels struck something in me. Many people have said my novel, The Fix, is a lot like Grisham's books. I don't know about all that, but he has influenced me more than just about any other. I've also enjoyed stories by Puzo, Clancy, King, Twain, Dickens, London, Hemingway and Burroughs. One story that should go down as one of the greatest I've ever read is: Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu. It was about Ted Williams last at bat.
How has your family reacted to your writing success?
My family has enjoyed the success of my first book, except for the fact that everywhere I go now people want to talk about it or how to get published. Anonymity does have its bonuses. But I'm not complaining. I know how it feels to be on the other side of the fence, and I'm never going to turn down anyone who is serious about writing.
Tell us about plans for upcoming books.
ViviSphere Publishing has said they want to publish my other two novels, including one of them this fall. While I was working on getting The Fix published, I wrote two other books. I'm reworking a title to my second book, so things are still up in the air. But it will come out this fall. And as far as writing second and third and even fourth books before the first one gets published-DO IT! Always have something else. It piques agent's interests. It also shows you're full of ideas and working toward a career.
How can readers contact you?
Contact me at: www.readthefix.com (email@example.com)
Jeff, thanks for joining us, and best of luck with your future books!
May 21, 2001