Author Interview with Jeffery L Cheney

Jeff has worked as a civilian contract mechanic for the US Army, a heavy equipment mechanic, a High School teacher, and currently works in high technology computer chip manufacturing.

Jeff has been writing science fiction and fantasy stories for enjoyment for over thirty-five years and has published four SF novels with his brothers; Dead Reckoning, Day of Reckoning, Force of Reckoning and Final Reckoning. They have also published a collection of short stories, Outward BoundForged by Betrayal is his first solo SF novel.

He enjoys coaching youth basketball, working on cars and doing woodworking when the time allows.

He has three grown children and he lives in a small town in NW Oregon with his wife of 34 years.

Describe yourself in five words

  Quiet, relaxed

What fact about yourself would really surprise people? 

 I am ultra-competitive at sports and games to the point where I had to quit playing board games and card games at my In-Laws to avoid conflicts.

How do you work through self-doubts and fear? 

This has been a problem all of my life. I had to go see a Doctor at the age of 5 because I was developing an ulcer due to stress and anxiety. I just focus on the end goals and continue to work hard. I try to ignore any doubts and just keep going.   

What scares you the most? 

A lack of perfection.

What makes you happiest?

Finishing a project. I can always see how many problems there are with any book or story. It can never be perfect. But being able to say, this is done, this is good enough to publish and be okay with that. Any problems that are left are minimal. I’m happy just to be able to say, ‘I’ve finished.’

Why do you write? 

This I’ve had stories inside my head since I was little. When my kids were young, I’d tell them bedtime stories that we would make up every night. It was great to get these stories out of my head. Writing lets me do that.

Have you always enjoyed writing? 

Writing is not the path that I headed into early. I wrote stories in High School and always had stories in my head but I was a science and engineering guy in High School and College. I never thought about writing as a career until two of my brothers asked me to write with them.

What writing are you most proud of? 

I think that my first novel with my brothers Dead Reckoning, will always be the book I am most proud of. Mostly because it was the first novel that I completed from beginning to end. The persistence needed to get to that point is tremendous. There are so many points where it would be easier to quit. Just being able to finish made me feel like I was really a writer.

What are you most proud of in your personal life? 

I’m proud that my 2 daughters and my son have grown up to be good, happy adults. That they learned how to be happy and make choices that allow them to live lives that will let them do the things they want to do.

What books did you love growing up? 

My mom started reading to us when I was very young. She started with the OZ books and then went on to mysteries, like the Bobbsey Twins and Hardy Boys and finally when I was about 8, she introduced me to Robert Heinlein science fiction books. I was hooked. I have been reading science fiction and fantasy books ever since then. I still read a diverse grouping of genres and I still love mysteries.

What else do you do, other than write? 

I still work full-time in the computer manufacturing industry; I also work on rebuilding cars with my son and I enjoy woodworking.

What other jobs have you had in your life? 

This I have done many things in my life including working as a civilian contractor for the US Army, repairing tanks and armored personnel carriers. I’ve been a Heavy Equipment Mechanic, I’ve taught High School Auto Mechanics, Welding, Wood Shop, and coached High School Football and Basketball. I’ve also taught Computer Programming, Javascript, C++, Unix and computer hardware repair.

If you could study any subject at university what would you pick? 

This is a hard one for me because as you can see, my interests are wide-ranging. I don’t know for sure if I would change my path or try to be more focused. I am happy with the path of my life so I don’t know if I would change anything. Although, maybe if I went back and became a pharmacist…

If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? 

This is also a hard question for me. I lived for a couple of years in Ecuador and visited limited parts of Peru. A few years ago, my wife and I spent six weeks traveling in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. These are all beautiful places and I have met great, wonderful people in each of these places, I could live in any of them comfortably. They are all wonderful places. I would probably be more comfortable somewhere in South America because I learned the language while living there. But for me, anywhere that is quiet and peaceful is where I want to be.

Tell us about your family?

First of all, I started writing with 2 of my brothers so I need to start with them. I have six brothers, five of them are younger than me. Several years ago, Craig, Jared and I were all working in the same area and we started meeting for lunches on Fridays. While we were doing this, we started planning and writing a novel. It took us several years to complete and get it published but we have continued writing together, even though we no longer live or work together anymore.

My wife and I have been married for 34 years and live in a small town in the woods of NW Oregon. Our 3 children are all grown and living in Boston, MA, Utah and Oregon.

We also have three wonderful granddaughters.

How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?

I like to write with a laptop while sitting in my recliner. I’ve tried various methods and I even have two different desks set up to write at but this is the way that I seem to write the most. Because of a back surgery several years ago, it is hard to sit in a desk chair for vary long so I usually end up back in the recliner. 

How much sleep do you need to be your best? 

As time goes on, I find that I only need about 5-6 hours of sleep per night to function, as long as I take a 30 minute break in the middle of the day and rest completely, maybe nap for half an hour and then finish the day. I do find that I do most of my best work in the morning.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

My wife Gienah is a great support. I couldn’t do anything if she didn’t put up with me and all of the time I put into my writing.

It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?

I am changing my campaign at this point. I had been doing a lot of FB ads and BookBub ads but I just hadn’t been getting in front of SF readers in a way that seemed to be effective. This is part of my new start so I will see how this goes. I’m looking at getting onto book blogs instead of my past ads.

Tell us about your new book? Why did you write it?  

My newest book, Forged by Betrayal, was started as a project for a course I was taking at Arizona State University. The course was called ‘My Novel Year’. As a process of the course, the students would create a manuscript for a novel and would learn how to craft the characters and the plot. I was taking the course to help build my skills as a writer. When the course was completed, I had the novel completed but wasn’t happy with it. It took me several years and three rewrites before I was happy with the story. The main story is the same but I like the flow of the plot much better now. The story takes two arcs, the first is a Marine lieutenant arriving at a new planet, just before it erupts into a revolution. She works hard to keep her Marines alive and to track down the cause of the revolution, to try to end the war. The second arc of the book is the daughter of the hereditary planetary governor who is brought out of the palace during the revolution by the last two remaining members of her protection detail. They try to keep her alive as the revolutionaries hunt her to either kill her or control her.

I loved writing this book and finally getting it to a place where it felt right.

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?

Like many writers, I am a great reader. I spend a lot of time reading when I am not writing. I also like to do woodworking, I like to build things so I spend a lot of time in my woodshop. I am just starting to build a small grandfather clock for my son’s wedding gift. 

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

As I said before, I am a great reader. There is a great feeling when you have read a book or story and know those characters are part of you forever. I just want to write stories that touch people that way.

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