Author Interview: Jeff Lindsay

Jeff Lindsay Photo

Jeffry P. Freundlich is an American playwright and crime novelist more commonly known by his pen name Jeff Lindsay. He is best known for his novels about the sociopathic murderer with a code, Dexter Morgan. As well as his Dexter series, he’s also published other work, many of it alongside his wife Hilary Hemingway (the niece of Ernest Hemingway) as a co-author. He made the New York bestsellers list for his Dexter novels, which debuted in 2004 with Darkly Dreaming Dexter. After the success of the books they were adapted for television by Showtime and CBS in 2006, with the first season being based on the first book, and subsequent seasons branching out with storylines that used Lindsay’s original characters but followed their own original stories.

Lindsay is also writing a comic book version of Dexter distributed by Marvel comics which consist of two mini-series: Dexter and Dexter: Down Under.

You can purchase some of the most popular books by this author on Amazon by clicking here, here and here.

So that’s my Introduction and here’s my Interview:

Do you have any rules for writing which you think have served you well?
Dozens. Most important: do whatever it takes to write every day. Set office hours and KEEP them, wear your lucky jock strap – whatever you need. DO IT.

Write pages every day, even if you know you won’t keep them. Keeps the motor tuned.

Hate what you write; falling in love with your own words leads to complacency, narcissism, and settling for crap.

Read everything.

Learn arc welding. (or anything else that pays enough to set your own hours and still pay the rent).

What attracted you to writing crime fiction?
Nothing. It was just the story that I wanted to write at the time. I don’t read a lot of crime fiction, and don’t think of myself as Crime Writer. I’m a writer. I’ve written one of almost everything.

Can you think of a few tips of the top of your head for writing the perfect antagonist/protagonist?
If I could, would I really tell anybody….?

In truth, I don’t think there’s any such thing. Every story is different. That means every protagonist is different, too. The trick is finding perfect character for each story. On the other hand, reading Joseph Campbell doesn’t hurt. 

What problems did you encounter when you first started writing crime fiction?
Nobody wanted to read the manuscript. Some people read the outline or first few pages and went, “meh.” Problem is, you don’t get what the book is about until the end of chapter 1, so….

The Dexter series is very graphic do you think that’s important to provide realism?
But it isn’t really. What I write is something like, “I lifted the knife and went to work.” And then people come up to me and say, “Ooooh, how could you WRITE that part where he puts the intestines in his teeth?” says more about them than me…

How much research do you do in preparation for writing a novel?
I try to do a lot. I’ve fired weird weapons, toured the Miami jail, and driven car chase routes a dozen times…. Sometimes you get lazy, or a deadline is breathing on you. But I do try. The internet is a big help – I’m writing a scene on a superyacht right now, and I can get the pictures online.

Can you give me some tips for crafting a serial killer?
Read all the psychology books you can. There’s some good ones by FBI profilers. Don’t be influenced by telly or film clichés. Find NEW Cliches in research.

In your opinion is it better to explain a killer’s actions with something such as a dark passenger, or have them doing it simply because they enjoy it?
I don’t see a difference. There’s also an element of compulsion (another book to read; COMPULSION, I forget the author…)

Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?
I read a lot. Patrick O’Brian. Robertson Davies. Kurt Vonnegut. John D. MacDonald. Fawn Brodie …. Historical fiction, biography.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
People in general are much sicker than I’d thought.

Is anything in your books based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
A little of both. I’ve never actually killed anybody or been a psychopath, but I grew up in Miami, have cop friends, etc.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t. Seriously. Finding something else to do. If you find you can’t stop yourself, go ahead, but really…. It’s too hard and it never pays the bills.


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