Interview with Jeff Hirsch, author of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE

We're so excited here at the League to celebrate the launch of our last League member, Jeff! HURRAH! To kick off his launch week, we're sitting down with Jeff for a few questions today, then rounding out the week with reviews, features, and even some special surprises (and PRIZES) for you! So stick around all week as we celebrate Jeff's launch of THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE!!

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?

I’m a fairly decent, thought rusty, fire-eater and can escape from a strait jacket while hanging by my ankles from the ceiling.

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?

Without a doubt it was The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. That entire series absolutely hypnotized me. I wouldn’t say my tastes have changed so much as expanded significantly. I still love comics, sci-fi, horror and paranormal stuff but I’m also a big fan of non-fiction and adult lit writers like Tim O’Brien, Jeffrey Eugenides and Michael Chabon. I’ve basically become a person who will read anything.

It's the inevitable question: what inspired THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE? 

Just an image actually. The opening image of the book—a father and son burying someone late at night on a hill overlooking the ruins of a mall—popped into my head one day. I got intrigued by the idea and spent some time wondering who these people were, what they wanted and what their world was like. The book came out of trying to answer all of those questions.

For me, THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD—which is about the best compliment I can give to a writer! Were there any works of literature that influenced your story in any way? An author who influenced your style?

Thanks! I think if there was any book I was thinking of the most it was Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. I just love the simplicity of it and its intense focus on one character and the way the book deals with his environment.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE, what would you want it to be?
I’d have to say it would be hope. Despite human’s propensity for screwing things up on a titanic scale I do think that we can eventually get our act together and make things better. Not that there won’t be a lot of pain along the way, I just think it’s possible.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer?

This entire thing has been and continues to be a surprise. I got my Masters in Playwriting back in 2003 and struggled for years after, working crappy jobs and writing play after play that no one was interested in, wondering how long I could tell my friends and family I was a writer while having no objective proof of it. My wife can attest to some anxiety fueled nights when I thought that maybe this whole writing thing wasn’t for me at all. I literally could not imagine it ever going anywhere. And then everything stared to change. The fact that an agent and a publishing house and now the actual public seems interested in the book never fails to surprise.

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?

To remember that there is no one path to being a writer and there is no one timeline. There are great writers with advanced degrees and those without, those who’ve been writing all their life and those who haven't. There are tortured writers and well-adjusted writers. There are writers who have things happen for them very quickly and those whose careers take a very long time to get going. Literally any personal story you may have can end in being a successful writer. You don’t have to be anyone other than yourself.


Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for the interview, y'all! Can't wait to read more of The Eleventh Plague.

Sarah Tokeley said...

I am so excited about this book, ever since I saw the trailer. It's the icing on the cake that Jeff seems like a thoroughly nice bloke :-)

Jeff Hirsch said...

Thanks guys and thanks to Beth for the great interview! Hope y'all enjoy the book!

JennaQuentin said...

I love the story of your inspiration!

Julia @ That Hapa Chick said...

I LOVE this interview and I'm so looking forward to reading The Eleventh Plague! It sounds amazing. :)

Jeff Hirsch said...

Thanks Julia and Jenna! Can't wait to get the book out there to you. Not long now!

Nata Cynthia Artistadonna said...

I totally agree: Believe in Yourself!!!!

ModificationMan said...

I love the book and the plot... And I'm only 12. Great job Jeff have a great day. ;-)