- Nikky Lee
10 Questions with Z Jeffries
Z Jeffries grew up in horse country of the Southeastern United States, daydreaming of adventures while mucking stalls, mowing endless lawns, and working in local restaurant kitchens. Though he continued to work an eclectic mix of jobs, from fake patient for med school to private investigator, he always pursued storytelling; acting, improvising, producing theatre, screenwriting, or finally, novel writing. Now residing in the Midwestern United States, he now works the hardest and most rewarding job of his life as a dad. During nap times and evenings, Jeffries wrote The Hide & Seek Chronicles and Pro Wrestling Saves Earth. He also writes Young Adult contemporary fantasy under the name Zachary Jeffries. Sign up at ZJeffries.com to read some of his books for free.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
I live in the Chicago suburbs, a lovely little Southside town that kinda resembles Haddonfield (the fictional home of Michael Myers). Under the name Z Jeffries, I write Middle Grade Science Fiction. As Zachary Jeffries, I write contemporary fantasy for Young Adult readers. All of my books, no matter my alias, are packed with action, snark, and as many tropes and archetypes as I can fit!
2. What drew you to that particular genre and/or age group?
I really appreciate the emotional openness and curiosity of younger main characters. My MCs run from 13 to 17 years old and, unlike adults, they don’t pretend to know all the answers and they haven’t developed defences or coping mechanisms that repress emotional responses. So my characters get to have raw, vulnerable moments that don’t feel forced or random.
3. What’s your best known work?
My best-known work is probably my first series, the Hide & Seek Chronicles. Four books so far, this SciFi adventure follows Chase, Harla, and Diamonds as they participate in a top secret game of high tech hide and seek.
4. What inspired you to write it?
Being a bored kid mowing lawns! I’ve always had a big imagination, and daydreaming went hand-in-hand with chores. Now, I’m ancient, so I was cutting grass back in the Nineteen Hundred and Nineties, envisioning excitement and adventure in my boring neighbourhood. While I was leaving wavy lines on lawns, I was picturing giant robots and creatures playing a game of hide-and-seek around me, just out of sight.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between? How do you research?
My writing style changes to fit each book. I heavily plotted The Unseen Curse because it was a magical murder mystery. On the other hand, I completely pantsed Pro Wrestling Saves Earth because I wanted to discover the weird SciFi alien-ness of the story as it lead up to the main event. I love research and lean on podcasts and internet searches, but I also rely heavily on my own experience. There’s a lot of me and my experiences in each of my stories.
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
Real-world camouflage technology is SO cool! We are on the cusp of so many technological breakthroughs like warping light and genetic mapping/splicing. I fell down several YouTube gravity wells researching contestants for the Hide & Seek Chronicles.
7. What’s the most personal story/scene you’ve written and why?
The Unseen Curse is heavily based on antisemitism I experienced growing up. Sone of the insults and jabs are literally word-for-word from my lived experience. It was cathartic to write the character arc of this girl standing up for herself and fighting this bigotry in ways I wish I had.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
I have two, and they couldn’t be more different. Ernest Cline taught me I could write about my interests unapologetically. And Maggie Stiefvater had the characters, relationships, and prose I respected and worked hard to emulate.
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
Parenting and anti-racism nonfiction mostly, but I am reading and LOVING Alfijiri by Michael Laborn.
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books?
My books are available to order wherever fine books are sold, and it would be great if you supported a locally owned bookstore to snag a copy for yourself or a young reader in your life (my MG is a PERFECT gift for reluctant readers).
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