Author Interview: Jeff Moore – The Quiet Houses, Or Aiming For Eyeballs

February 20, 2023

 

By BRUCE DENNILL

 

DEA Special Agent Jeff Moore captured the world’s oldest and most successful drug cartel mule, Leo Sharp, and was portrayed by Bradley Cooper (as DEA Agent Colin Bates) in Clint Eastwood’s movie, The Mule. Moore shares his epic journey from graphic designer to legendary undercover detective in his book The Quiet Houses: Fall of the Narcs.

 

When, and under what circumstances, did the idea for your latest book come to you?

During the pandemic, I began to write stories during my time as an undercover narcotics detective in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2003, I spent a year as a purported drug  addict visiting hundreds of drug houses throughout the city with my informant, Tamera Josephine Mack, a boisterous African American woman from the streets. The stories were unbelievable, recounting our adventures together in a sea of lost souls and dangerous men. I couldn’t stop writing and in six months I had finished my  first novel.

 

Did it initially feel like something to commit to, or was that something that took time to develop?

When I began to write, my mind started to recall many things from my past I had forgotten about or simply set aside somewhere in the back of my mind. When I began to  recall the events, I knew I was hooked and would not be able to stop writing until I had finished the story I wanted to tell. The concentration of writing  strengthens the memory to the point where your mind allows you to remember things you normally can’t recall.

 

How did you conduct your research or other preparation before writing – was it more experiential or more academic or desk-based?

This story was a historical biography, based on true events that happened to me and my drug informant so it was a matter of recalling actual events and putting them  down on paper. There was little research needed as almost all of the story was based on recollections.

 

If resources (money, time, whatever) were no object, what additional groundwork would you like to have completed?

If I had more time, I would’ve liked to have created a series of books from my experiences creating one story where another had left off. Either a series or a much  larger book with more interwoven smaller stories within that book.

 

When considering influence, do you find yourself wanting to write like someone (in terms of their style, tone or use of language), or aiming for a kind of perspective or storytelling approach you admire or enjoy?

I can immediately spot lazy writing when I’m reading. It’s a complete turn-off and defeats the purpose of writing in the first place. On the contrary, when a writer is totally invested into creating each scene with passion and dedication not matter how trivial that part of the story is, it makes it easier for the reader to continue investing their time. In the end, writing is about getting eyeballs on your material and having people give up hours of their free time to read your work. You are literally  competing for eyeballs, that’s it. That is all it’s about.

 

What’s in your to-read pile – and what upcoming book (other than yours!) are you most looking forward to?

I’m trying to read more historical stories of American history of our country. I want to read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman, which details events that  occurred one month prior to the the start of World War I.

 

Do you have a favourite character that you have created? Or if you’re writing non-fiction, do you have a specific topic that you find endlessly fascinating?

I love stories with an antihero, a protagonist who is almost more of an antagonist, not making the most forthright choices with their life – but you can’t help but root for  that person. Those types of people are more complex and difficult to create. Steven King is a great writer of horror, but by his own admissions, some of his  characters are very two-dimensional and fall into stereotypes. The story is geared more to create suspense than to pull the reader into the personalities of the people involved in his writing. My favorite book is Of Mice And Men by John Steinbeck. Every character in this book is incredibly intentional with purpose towards the story. The story takes place in a small setting, a farm, over a short period of time, without any spectacular events occurring. But it is one of the most incredibly well-written and interesting novels I have ever read. You don’t have to create a civil war drama to write an interesting story for your reader, but you do need to create characters who are as interesting as a civil war drama.

 

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