Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guest Blogger: Jeffery S. Williams

Please join me in welcoming award-winning author Jeffery S. Williams as the special guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Jeffery’s latest release is REDEEMER (ISBN: 978-1-60264-654-4). Here’s a brief blurb about the 218-page book: “For the past year, Detective Kristen Cauldron has been grappling with the disappearance of her 8-year-old daughter and the case has grown cold. Returning to work on the force after a year off, Cauldron finds herself working with a new partner and on a new case to catch a serial killer - an experience that will push her to the edge of sanity.

He calls himself "Redeemer." His religious delusions justify his elaborate murders. Using medieval practices, he takes the "lost causes" of the world and "redeems" them making their souls ready to stand before God. His motivation? Not vigilante justice or righteous judgment, but deliverance saving unknown future victims from cruelty, as well as redeeming the criminals from eternal damnation. 

Redeemer selects Cauldron, based on her previous background, to be his vessel for revealing the scheme behind his "ministry." When Redeemer discovers Cauldron's history, he boldly pledges to her that he can find out what happened to her daughter. Cauldron is secretly caught between duty and hope, concealing it even from Hawkins, her partner who she has come to trust. 

"REDEEMER" is a vivid examination of a man's toxic faith and hyper-religiosity, a mother's heart-wrenching loss and compulsion to discover her daughter's fate, a healing and often humorous bond between partners, and a riveting police investigation into this serial killer's psyche and symbolic crimes. When Redeemer and Kristen finally come face to face, the obsession to know the truth about her daughter threatens to destroy everything she holds close to her heart."

Jeffery has stopped by to answer some questions for me. He hopes to drop back by later if anyone else has any questions.

Mason - What inspired this gripping story?

Jeffery - One inspiration would have to be my favorite crime thriller Se7en. I was so impressed with the film’s plot arc, the villain and the crime scene depictions. For those who read REDEEMER, they will likely see some parallel, but will also see the villain delve much deeper into his motivations and logic for those he murders.

A second inspiration revolves around my having lived in Fresno, California since 1968. The central valley of California is a mini-Bible belt in an otherwise liberal state. Churches and fiery preachers proliferate here, and the possibility of some going off half-cocked is more not uncommon. As a city, Fresno is full of contradictions that seemed fitting for this story.

A third inspiration would come from my love of history, particularly the Renaissance and Reformation. Out of that time came the hysteria of inquisitions. Out of the inquisitions emerged some of the most haunting tortures devices known to humanity. Melding all those together  sparked the idea for the novel REDEEMER.

Mason - What was the easiest part of writing this story and what was the hardest?

Jeffery - The hardest part of writing the novel was working from the point of view of a woman in the third person. While I actually had some experience with that from my first novel
PIRATE SPIRIT: THE ADVENTURES OF ANNE BONNEY, where I wrote in the first person perspective of Anne Bonney of the 16th century, for some reason taking on a modern woman felt more problematic since there is a higher expectation of blunt honesty.

The easiest part of REDEEMER was writing the dialogue and point of the view of the villain. Isn’t that always what actors and writers say? I suppose we all have some capacity for evil, and while people of integrity keep those impulses in check, I felt a liberating feeling in being able to create a villain with no holds barred. Frankly, it was fun to let his twisted logic and maniacal character play itself out.

Mason - What type of research did you do for this book?

Jeffery - Having been a literature teacher for 24 years and a Sunday school teacher for nearly as many, my knowledge of Shakespeare, Dante and the Bible was more than adequate for what I intended with the story. Having lived in Fresno for more than 40 years, my life experience in this city made that part of REDEEMER more natural and instinctive as well. On the other hand, my study of medieval and Renaissance torture devices required a fair amount of research time.

Mason - What can readers expect next from you?

Jeffery - I cannot seem to land on one genre. My first novel PIRATE SPIRIT is a historical fiction based on the life of female pirate in the 16th century (which by the way is now in movie script form and being pitched in Hollywood…fingers crossed).

My second novel is literary comedy and whodunit based on HAMLET and ROMEO & JULIET. I created a sleuth team who investigated the tragedy and uncovered evidence that essentially changed the entire outcome of Shakespeare’s stories. Bold, I know. I call WHO’S TO BLAME? a kind of sequel/spoof/satire and pastiche to boot. I had a lot of fun writing it, allowing me to indulge in my love of wit, irony and sarcasm.

My third novel is REDEEMER — a psychological crime thriller.

So…what’s next? Harlequin Romance entitled LUST IN THE DUST? A Western? Science Fiction?

Actually, I am at work on another historical fiction novel set during the War of 1812 and America’s battle with Tecumseh and his Confederation. But I am in the early stages so I have time to change directions.

Jeffery, thanks for guest blogging here today and sharing the background on this gripping story.

Now for a little background on Jeffery. He worked as a journalist and freelance writer before becoming a high school and college English instructor. He lives in Fresno, California. He has previously written two award winning novels, PIRATE SPIRIT: THE ADVENTURES OF ANNE BONNEY and WHO’S TO BLAME? A LITERARY COMEDY.

For more on Jeffery visit his website.


  1. Jeffery, thanks so much for blogging here today. This is an intriguing story. Wishing you much success with your writing.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Jeffrey.

    Jeffrey - I admire folks like you who can write in more than one genre. Redeemer sounds like a very engaging thriller, and I wish you much success with it. But I'm intrigued by historical fiction, too. I'll bet you keep your writing fresh by writing in different genres.

  3. Really interesting to hear about Jeffrey's inspiration - as well as the mini-Bible belt in the middle of California. I had no idea!

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  5. Mason - thank you so much for this wonderful interview! Jeffery - I think you are my long lost identical twin. Only you're younger and I'm a woman and we don't look alike! I spent a lot of time writing about Ann Bonney and Mary Reid. I became crazed about their story when I helped my then young son (he's now 38) do a school assignment on pirates. I am also a Dante scholar and love to read about the reformation... I can't wait to read your books. I have one mystery finished and another started. I wanted to love Seven but found the movie too graphic for me. Good luck with the screenplay - didn't they do one movie already? I didn't go because I was too heart-broken and worried they'd do it wrong.
    silly, but.

  6. Jeffrey, A great idea to write about "toxic-faith" combined with a person's religious beliefs and throw in there mental illness. Sounds like a great read.

    Mason, thanks again for a great interview.

  7. What an intriguing lens to look at a character through, their "toxic faith." It sounds as though Redeemer and Cauldron will really feed off of each other's emotional states.

  8. Sounds like you took on a lot in Redeemer. That will probably move the story along quickly. Also sounds like a book that will keep you thinking and glued to the pages.

  9. Hello, everyone,

    First off, thank you, Mason, for the privilege of being spotlighted on your blog. A very cool site. And thank you, everyone, for your thoughtful and friendly comments.

    Margot, I appreciate your compliment concerning how I can write in more than one genre. I am not so sure that is a talent or a result of adult ADD. ;-) That said, it is fun to challenge my narrative voice with a different direction.

    Talli, yes, a mini-Bible belt, and Fresno is the buckle. Hundreds of churches dotted all over the city. The influence came during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Folks from Oklahoma and Arkansas traveled in exodus to central California, which also happens to be the richest agricultural sector in all America.

    Jan, that is very cool you know so much about Anne Bonney and Mary Read. I wish I could have picked your brain when I set out to write the novel a few years ago. I am not aware that an Anne Bonney has been made. And you are also a Dante scholar? Impressive background. Sounds like you have the makings of writer with your knowledge base.

    Teresa and Joanne, thank you. Sadly, I suppose, that extreme religious faith can find justification by violent means, but the challenge for me was to make Redeemer multi-dimensional enough so that a reader might feel some conflict. It has been interesting to hear from a few readers, particularly women, who have admitted a sort of love-hate tension with the antagonist, because he does possess some redeeming qualities and insights that offer ironic twists in the plot.

    Alex, it is a tough subject and I hope I handled it fairly. I find that people of religious faith come off more as caricatures than real people in films and novels.

    Helen, thank you, I hope it proves a page-turner for readers.

    Thank you again all. I am enjoying your comments. Happy reading. I will return in a few hours and promise to respond to anyone who makes a comment.

  10. What an intriguing series. I love this type of serial killer series.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.