Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Jeffrey B. Burton

Jeffrey B. Burton was born in Long Beach, California, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and received his BA in Journalism at the University of Minnesota.

His many novels include The Finders, The Chessman, and The Eulogist.

He lives in St. Paul with his wife, an irate Pomeranian named Lucy, and a happy galoot of a Beagle named Milo.

Burton's new novel is The Keepers.

My Q&A with the author:
How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

The first book in my series about dog handler Mason "Mace" Reid and his extraordinary pack of human remains detection dogs was titled The Finders. That's what he calls his cadaver dogs. The second in the series is titled The Keepers, which plays off the old nursery rhyme (Finders, Keepers, Losers, Weepers) but, as the novel progresses, the keepers comes to represent the group of villains they're up against.

What's in a name?

Everything. You want a certain cadence (think James Bond, Mitch Rapp, Jason Bourne) and nothing that could distract.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

My teenage reader self would be delighted with middle-aged Jeff as teenage Jeff read a bunch of dog-related novels (Where the Red Fern Grows, Call of the Wild, Fluke, etc.).

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Currently, I've been rewriting a prologue for what seems an eternity (stripping it down to its basics). In terms of changes, that depends on what my editors find.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

Reid isn't a superhero like the characters listed above. He's more of a regular guy, like me, who gets some things right and some things dead wrong. Unlike me, Reid's lucky to have canine friends around to pull his chestnuts out of the fire when things go south.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Music - Reid names his dogs after country or country rock songs ("Elvira," "Sue," "Maggie May," "Delta Dawn," "Billie Joe"). Also, The Keepers finds Reid investigating the death of a one-hit wonder. I'm also a bit of a history buff, and The Keepers digs into Chicago's deliciously checkered history.
Visit Jeffrey B. Burton's website.

--Marshal Zeringue