Interview of Thrilling New Author

The Chain

I had the pleasure of meeting Jeffrey Preston at the recent Readers Favorite awards ceremony, where his book, The Chain, was honored with the Gold Medal in the Fiction-Thriller genre. My wife and I devoured the book, which whizzes by like greased-lightning. I jumped at the chance to interview him. Join me as we discuss his writing process and  road to publishing.

What is The Chain about?


On the surface, The Chain is a fast-paced thriller about a husband and wife whose eight-year-old daughter is abducted. Their marriage falls apart shortly after. Six years has passed when the story begins, and the father believes he has seen their daughter. This leads to the reuniting of the family and a mad race across the country in an attempt to outrun those that desire the child and the special gift she possesses. Underneath, this is ultimately a story about love in many forms. It’s about the love of a husband and wife, a father and daughter, a mother and daughter, a family, a friend, and God.

Where did the idea for the story come from?


I am often asked, “Where do you get the ideas for your stories?” This is a tough question to answer. Sometimes it’s something I see, or hear. I saw a commercial once where a truck drove past a highway and everyone’s clothes blew all over the place, and that is how this story began. I thought, “What if a truck driver was driving down the road in his rig, and came around a corner, and there stood a haunting picture of a little girl with a beautiful dress and black shoes, flawless.” In my mind, I saw the truck blow by her and the wind generated from the truck blew her hair and dress all over. This is how The Chain was birthed.

Your story is quite complex, with many characters, and lots of twists and turns. How did you go about creating the plot?


For me, writing comes in vignettes. I knew what I wanted to happen with this book. I knew how I wanted it to end, and yes I wrote it fully intending to write a sequel. When asked this question, I often tell people that writing a book is like taking a plane ride. The beginning is very memorable as you increase in speed and leave the ground, and the ending also is memorable as you descend, and finally land. These are the parts of a book that most people have in mind when writing a story, the beginning and the ending, but the middle is the real challenge. There is nothing worse than a boring three-hour flight. Now throw in a little romance, choppy weather, socialization, and oh look, turbulence. That keeps everyone on their toes waiting to see what is going to happen next. It’s the mystery of it that keeps a reader interested. So, I really focus on making the middle good. I have read books where I was miserable for one hundred pages in the middle. If someone can put your book down and not be interested in picking it up . . . well, let’s say . . . that would not be a good thing. I make a sincere effort at making my characters real in the sense that women don’t run in heals, and no one goes back to check to see if the bad guy is really dead. I want the reader to fall in love with my characters. I try to make them interesting, yet not too far away from “common folks” that people can’t identify with them. Relative to twist and turns . . . my writing friends call me the “King of Twists.” Hehehe, they are right.

I had the feeling when I got to the end of the book that you knew exactly where you were taking the sequel. Did you map that out from the get go?


As I mentioned, I always planned on a sequel. Mapping it out was interesting because everything is revealed, and the plot greatly thickens. There is a lot of mystery to the “bad guys” and the “good guys.” I knew where I wanted it to go, and I know how it is going to end, the middle is outlined, and I’m painting in all of the backgrounds.

What is your approach to creating characters?


Character creation is VERY important to me. I want my characters to be someone people really want to know, or know about. I want the reader to be able to identify with them emotionally and intellectually. I have a character page for every character in each of my books. It tells me things like their age, height, weight, hair color, eye color, ethnicity, and relevance to the story or main characters. I think often on these characters when I walk. I think, “How would Kylee react to this? Or Stan is a man’s man, but he is heartbroken in this scene, how would he deal with this.” I also try to make even the villain(s) interesting. I was amazed how many people wrote me and told me how much they loved the villains in The Chain. I was floored.

The book poses some interesting questions about spirituality and the nature of life and death. Can you share some of your thoughts about that?


First, let me say, I am a Christian, and always make an effort to write stories that I believe God would appreciate. Having said that, I like to flirt with areas that are on the edge. I like to make people think about their religion, faith, politics, social agendas, etc. I like to take people to places that we all go, but tend to not discuss. If you think about it, people spend a lot of time in bathrooms in The Chain, but I take away the “dirtiness” of it. I am someone who likes to take God out of people’s little boxes and say, “Hey look. There He is! Who knew He wore blue jeans?” I like to write about spiritual things, and make people think. God spoke to a man through a Donkey once. That is funny! God is funny! Now there’s a writer! So in answer to your question, yes, I believe in an afterlife, and like bathrooms, people don’t usually talk about it. But I do. *smile*

What has helped you the most to develop as a writer? What authors have influenced you the most?


I write what I’d like to read. I want something that will interest me. I think early Stephen King was amazing. I am also a fan of Dean Koontz, but I have a big mix of authors that I enjoy. I think Stephen R. Donaldson is an amazing writer. Each of them has attributes that I love, but there are also things that can bug me about all of them. I’ve participated in writing groups, and I think that helps a lot. Any feedback is good feedback. I do a lot of readings at coffee shops and when you can make people laugh or clap that is a great confirmation. Once I read a short story and people actually wept during a very sad scene. That is when I knew that I was doing something right.

You worked with Bearhead Publishing. Can you describe their process?


Bearhead is a small publishing company based out of the Louisville, Kentucky. Before being published, I participated in a Science Fiction/Fantasy writers group that met (and still meets) in Louisville. Though I was not particularly writing in either of those genres, it was a great place to get solid critiques and learn more about the craft. It is also where I learned that writing really is an art, and not everyone does it for large financial dreams. There are some brilliant writers out there that write just for the love of the craft. There was a woman who was part of the group that I had never met before. She sent out a blanket email to everyone in the group inviting them to participate in an upcoming short story writing competition hosted by Bearhead Publishing. The top thirty stories would be selected and assembled into a book they would later publish. Fortunately, my short story was selected. This opened the door for discussion about having my book published. Bearhead asked for my first chapter, and not too long after we negotiated a contract. I own the rights to my book, and shared some of the startup costs. That was my choice, and I learned a lot from it. I knew everything up front when I signed with them for The Chain, so there were no surprises. The short story that started it all is titled The Rose Garden. It was one of the short stories I read at a local coffee shop in Louisville. You never know who is listening to or reading your work. There was someone in that audience that really liked it. Since that reading, I have been approached about having it made into a play, and was recently solicited to have it printed in a magazine based out of Paris, France. I guess that will make me an international writer? *grin*

Do you have other stories brewing besides a series around The Chain?


 Other Stories? Me? Haha. But of course. I am in the process of completing two books. The first is the sequel to The Chain. I am currently referring to it as Static, but I have not decided on the final title. Kylee is off to college, and what a semester it’s going to be! My other project is a book of short stories that I’m also really excited about. It’s titled What The Mind Believes, and will be part of a three-book set. Both projects should both be completed by late winter/early spring. Besides that, I have fifteen other book ideas currently outlined. Two of them “haunt” me, and I have to decide which will be the next.

 Thank you for joining us! My review of The Chain may be read at

The book may be purchased from the author at:

Or on Amazon at,

Bearhead Publishing may be found at:



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