Lloyd Jeffries: A Veteran’s Tapestry

Navigating Dark Comedy, Philosophy, and Spiritual Exploration in Two Decades of Service

Lloyd Jeffries enjoys dark comedies, philosophy, clever turns of phrase, religious studies and thought experiments involving the esoteric and legendary. A decorated veteran of numerous conflicts, he served in the U.S. military and has practiced Emergency, Trauma and Wilderness medicine for more than twenty years. He hides out in Florida with his family and Buck the Wonder Dog. 

You’re organizing a party. Which two authors, dead or alive, do you invite? 

Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle. Those guys were pure magic, pure talent, pure intellect. What an evening that would be, hangin’ out with respectively, the best authors ever, exempting, of course, Shakespeare, who remains the guy to beat in all instances and for all time. There was something special with him that no one has ever come close. But, in my mind, an evening with Dickens and Doyle, lively discussion and examining their thoughts on today’s world and technology — what insight would these two bring with their historical perspectives, their pure genius, and their insightful and introspective thoughts on everything that has transpired since their deaths? Perhaps, in the next life that’s a possibility.

Which writers — working today do you admire most?

Wow, there’s a lot out there to choose from, but I think Ken Follett nails it for me. I think he and I are alike in many ways despite being from separate sides of the great pond. I love his epics and the thoughtfulness of his prose, characters, stories, and action. A truly great writer, although I wish his work had less sexual violence.

What do you read when you’re working on a book? And what kind of reading do you avoid while writing?

I don’t. I used to though, but found it took weeks to gain back my voice. In short, I avoid reading when I’m working on a project. I think what makes a piece special is that it comes from the unique experiences, perspectives, and attitudes of the author. I don’t want that muddled or messed with in any way.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

Oh, a gorgeous work is a joy forever and I think that’s the key. What moves me is an amalgam of things that enjoin to a wondrous, complete, and polished story. I need characters that make me hurt. I need a plot that keeps my mind wondering. I need action, suspense, romance, drama. And no one thing can override another. Write me a story with all components or don’t bother me. Don’t take shortcuts. Although it may take me hours to read, it probably took months or years to write and I need to feel the author’s angst, trepidation, joy, sweat, tears. In the end it’s all about emotion. Does the work inspire emotion? If so, how many? Which ones? When you close the book do you continue to think about the implications? Does the work transcend the written word? Does it tantalize, disturb, provoke, inspire? I consider myself an “Amateur professional chef”, which is a running joke in my family. For a dish to be truly tasty, all ingredients meld and mingle in such a way that no one spice is the star. So, give me that spicy dish! Give me that heartache. Give me that elation. Take me on a ride I’ll never forget. Discard genre tropes. Write a story. A tale that defies description or rule. Then, like a great chef, serve it up in such a beautiful fashion that I can’t help but take a nibble. If an author can do that, they have me forever.

Who is your favorite fictional hero or heroine? 

Sherlock Holmes, every time and without fail. And not that I’m an avid mystery reader, but Holmes was flawed, brilliant, broken, alone. No one could ever figure him out, which left him on a figurative island that he never quite escaped. From the time I was a boy, Sherlock gained my attention and I return to him often.

What books and authors have impacted your writing career?

Stephen King’s wonderful work, “On Writing” was a turning point in my own career. As a younger man, I devoured his works. As a writer struggling to learn the craft, his advice and observations were invaluable. He taught me to tell the truth. He inspired me to learn the craft and endeavor to perfect it. Knowing his work, it all clicked in my head and thus I was able to throw off the chains of genre and writing for financial success. Mr. King taught me that what I had to say, and the way I chose to say it, was something unique only to me. Then he taught me that those things, alone, weren’t quite enough. I could go on forever about the way that book affected me but suffice it to say I owe that man a steak dinner and a fine scotch.

“A masterful prose style…an alluring blend of fantasy, mystery, and history…deeply philosophical…freshly entertaining.”

-The Booklife Prize by Publisher’s Weekly

What kind of reader were you as a child? 

A ravenous one! My childhood wasn’t the best and, like many others, I escaped into books. I started with comic books and remember one of the best gifts I ever received being a subscription to Marvel Comics. Every week, the Hulk, Captain America, and Spider-Man showed up in the mailbox wrapped in something that looked like a grocery store bag. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was being introduced to story. Then, in school, I was brutalized by such works as Ethan Frome and Pilgrim’s Progress. That was utter despair and suffering, let me tell you. But, it changed me, made me refuse to believe that these “mandatory” reads couldn’t possibly be the end all and be all of literature. So, I went in search of the good. What I found, S.E. Hilton’s “The Outsiders”, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”, was a game changer for me. You see, I grew up poor, so books were a luxury and were considered a complete waste of money. So, I begged, borrowed, yes, even stole, to get my hands on the printed word. The first time I read Dickens, I nearly passed out from sheer awe. The first time Shakespeare jumped off the page was with a sonnet. Then there’s Stevenson, Crichton, Follett, Dostoyevsky, Ludlum, Christie, Dumas, Doyle, Dickens, Tolkien, Tolstoy, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Carroll, Verne, Poe, Dahl, Clancy, Fleming. So many, but lucky for me, all at my fingertips tucked in the corner of the little local library in a small town on the shores of Lake Erie. Who could’ve thought such wonders were available in that tiny berg. I kissed a lot of toads during those years, but, ah, the princes, the kings and queens, the dystopia, the pirates, the detectives, the everything, when I found them, were pure magic, pure joy, in a place where joy was absent. For the first time, my world sang. For the first time, a dime store novel made Christmas something to look forward to. The characters, the passion, the craft of writing unfolded before me and took me from a miserable trailer park to simply anywhere. That magic remains!

Have you ever changed your opinion of a book based on information about the author, or anything else?

Not once. I don’t really care to hear an author’s perspective on anything but the story. And the story should speak for itself. Like an actor who takes up political activism, I just don’t care what they have to say on any subject save acting. An author’s work should speak for itself. If you want to make a social or political statement, put it in the story. It will be so much more grand, so much more resonant. A true master storyteller should be able to use that gift in such a way as to make their statement. Then, after, get back to the blank page. 

Do other creative pursuits help or hinder your writing?

Oh, they certainly help. I add art to many scenes. I like to add music as well. I add lyrics, quotes, etc. Whatever pepper I can add to the pot to inspire, titillate, thrill, provoke. I’m always looking for that magic recipe.

If you had the chance, how would you change the publishing industry?

I’d find a way to add music to chapters and books. And not in a scene but as a theme. For each chapter, I’d have a song that matches it, and the reader could put on headphones while they’re reading, and the music would enhance the entire scene. I’d have recommended volume settings and try to have the song coincide with the reader so that both chapter and tune end at the same time. I think there’ s a lot to mine in that concept and, if nothing else, it would be a blast!

“This riveting story will capture readers from the opening chapter.  Pacing is outstanding. This book is exemplary.”
– Judge, 31st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

“Notwithstanding the apparent comparisons to King, Brown, and yes, even Dante, A Portion of Malice is a must-read…masterfully written.”
– Readers’ Favorite Silver Award

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