About Jeff Altabef:
Jeff Altabef is an award winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres. Jeff’s second thriller, Shatter Point, published by Evolved Publishing, won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award for Fall 2014 in the category of Best Thriller.
Jeff’s first young adult novel, Wind Catcher: A Chosen Novel, will be published in March also by Evolved Publishing. He’s extremely excited that his daughter, Erynn Altabef, is his co-author on the Chosen Series. As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. He has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those that like telling stories.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve always loved to tell stories. it’s in my blood. Going back to my childhood, my mom never read us stories, she made them up.
When I stopped being a banker in 2009 (please don’t hold my former career against me), I had free time for the first time in my adult life. I also had two teenaged daughters. My oldest was fifteen and an avid reader. We went to every Harry Potter release at midnight, whether it was a movie or a book. So i suggested that we write our own book together. We had so much fun and the manuscript turned out reasonably well, I’ve been hooked ever since. And now I’m in the middle of a Young Adult series with my youngest daughter!
Tell us about your writing process.
I never outline a story before I write it. I find outlines too restricting. I don’t want to force a story in a pre-determined path. Instead, I usually start knowing where I want the plot to get to at the middle and the end of the story, but I let the characters figure out how they arrive at those points on their own. Often, I’ll think through a scene and discover my characters want to take the story in an unexpected direction. As weird as it sounds, I love those moments. It makes writing exciting and the story fresh. The plot unfolds as I go, which means it’s never predictable for me, or the reader!
My writing is always character driven. Before I start writing, I make sure I have a strong understanding of my major characters: who are they, what makes them tick, their background, their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll find my characters, whether protagonists or antagonists, are always multi-faceted. People are never black and white, and my characters usually struggle with their faults.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Whenever I think of my favorite books, I always recall the main characters. That’s the thriller with Odd Thomas, or I love Alex Cross books. Plots are secondary for me. To be honest, I usually have to read the jacket to remember what actually happened in the story. So I always listen to my characters. As weird as it sounds, I want them to be real and often find myself having conversations with them. I’ve even had a few of those conversations out loud. Luckily, my family is patient with me or they probably would have had me committed a long time ago!
What advice would you give other writers?
I write because it’s the closest I can come to magic. I can create characters, worlds, and events in my mind, transfer them onto paper and transmit them to others I’ve never seen or met before. If I’ve done my job well, those readers will see, hear, and feel what I want them too.
I discourage people from writing if their motives are monetary. It’s hard to make a living as a fiction writer. Luck plays a huge role. If you want to get rich (and there’s nothing wrong with that) try a different path–invent something.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to publish with publishers. I love writing. I don’t enjoy the mechanics of finding a qualified editor, cover artist, distribution company, etc. I don’t mind marketing so much because that’s just another form of storytelling, so I’m happy to help market my books.
I admire those who have the time and the passion to self-publish, so long as they do it the right way. Every book can benefit from a qualified editor and an inspired cover artist. I think it cheapens the experience for the reader not to produce the best story possible, so I always encourage writers to check all the boxes even if it will take additional time and cost more money.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It’s human nature to tell stories. Humans have been doing it since we created language and probably before then. The publishing industry will continue to evolve. Hopefully we find a way to effectively sort through books, so readers will have confidence that what they’re investing their time in is a high quality product. I hate it when someone is unwilling to try new authors just because they had a bad experience with a sub-par product. As much as I dislike the notion, I don’t think print books will be widely sold twenty years from now.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Thrillers. Young Adult Fantasy.
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
Jeff Altabef Home Page Link