Saturday, January 15, 2022

Inspiration, Frustration, and Triumph




An author I deeply admire recently posted elsewhere about the influence his subconscious has on whether a work in progress is headed in the right direction, and how often a novel that begins with spectacular promise, fades off into oblivion at around short story length.  From the replies to his post, I think many authors share that experience–especially these days.


After all, in pandemic times it’s difficult to bring full creative power to bear while your subconscious is continuously running a fight or flight survival loop in the background.  To that extent, we’re no different than prehistoric man whose mind was far too preoccupied with what predator was intent on having him for (not over for) dinner, to give serious thought to redecorating the cave.


Personally, I find it difficult to write without my muse nearby…by that I mean Greece. Yes, I made it over there for seven weeks this summer, but that’s not nearly enough time for me to gain the immersive perspective I seek in creating a new locale for a story.  Place for me—as for all of us at MIE–is seminal to our work, and not something lending itself to compromise. 

Luckily, I’m familiar with enough heavenly (and hellish) places in Greece to keep Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis on duty, but stories set in some magical venues I’d like him to visit will just have to wait out the pandemic. One must play the hand you’re dealt—or kick over the table and face the consequences.


On a more upbeat note, I’m honored to share my achieving a childhood bucket list moment.


I grew up in working class Pittsburgh, where a Reader’s Digest magazine was always to be found lying somewhere around the house, and most assuredly in every doctor’s and dentist’s office.

The big kahuna for Reader’s Digest fans was the bi-monthly hardcover collection of four abridged novels, first published as “Reader’s Digest Condensed Books” in 1950, and since 1997 as “Reader’s Digest Select Editions.” Whenever I saw one of those anthologies, the authors whose names appeared on the binding appeared like gods to me.


To see my name this month on the cover of Select Editions #383 as the author of A Deadly Twist (Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis #11), has me feeling as if my game jersey is about to hang in the rafters alongside some of my writing idols.


Undoubtedly, there are far greater triumphs to achieve in the writing life, but for me, this is a childhood-dream-come-true moment.  One to relish and savor in these times.

Congratulations to my fellow cover mates, William Kent Krueger, Mia P. Manansala, and Freya Sampson, and sincere thanks to all who made this possible.




  1. Congrats! Dreams come true, then.

  2. Congrats again, Jeff! Lots of hard work and writing to get there as well as the Muse!

  3. WHOO-HOOOOOOOO! I, too, remember Reader's Digest well. My parents had a subscription for many years, and those "4 book" compendiums really tickled my "inner librarian" (or, maybe, more correctly "inner collector"). May the sun always shine on you, your muse, your photobomber, and your works.

    1. Thanks, EvKa. What's surprised me most is how many folk in disparate parts of the world have the same sort of memories of Reader's Digest--in their native languages!

  4. Jeff, It warms my heart to see that you still feel that boy from Pittsburg in you and with all of your success and experiences, this still reaches that boy. Mazel tov!

    1. Thanks, Tonette. The greatest compliment I ever received --or at least I think it was meant as a compliment--was on one of those "significant" birthdays, when my brother and his wife threw a party for me in Pittsburgh and invited several of my childhood playmates who I had not seen since my high school years. By then I was a name partner in my own NYC law firm. We had a great time reminiscing about experiences in the close to "Deerhunter"-like environment of our youth, and at the end of the evening my long time buddies said, "Jeffrey, you haven't changed a bit."

  5. Thanks, Donis. That means a lot coming from you. Best to Don.