Interview: Jon Jefferson – Killer Nashville Noir: Cold Blooded

TTS: The Top Shelf would like to welcome Jon Jefferson to the blog today! Jon is mostly known for The Body Farm series, which he co-authors with Dr. Bill Bass. Today we’re talking mostly about his short story Giving Blood, which can be found in the Cold Blooded anthology along with a group of absolutely amazing writers. Jon it’s great to have you!

Jon: Glad to be here; thanks!

TTS: Cold Blooded is an anthology composed of alumni from the Killer Nashville conference. There’s only like twenty stories in this book and I’m sure there could have been many more. What was the process? Was there a call for submissions or did Clay Stafford contact you?

Jon: Clay contacted me; he knows Dr. Bass and me quite well from our presentations at Killer Nashville – some of them joint appearances, some solo. He asked for a Jefferson Bass story, since that’s all he’d ever seen; I counter-offered with, “How about two stories—a Jefferson Bass story and a Jon Jefferson story?” Fortunately for me, he said yes.

TTS: Without divulging any spoilers on my part, Giving Blood plays around with morality on two different fronts. We have on one hand we have George Hartley who wants retribution for his wife’s murder. On the other, we have the nurse at the donation station. As someone who has never read your work before, it seems you like to play around with morality a lot. Is this a theme in your other books?

Jon: That’s an interesting question; I suppose the answer is, “Yes, sort of.” I do try to work in bigger questions and issues – violence against women; the problem of evil; official corruption; the rise of intolerance. So yes, to the degree that those questions and issues are moral issues, morality – not always conventional morality – does play a frequent role.

TTS: If you’ve read Cold Blooded, what’s your favorite story from the anthology?

Jon: Alas, my copy is lost in the limbo of the U.S. Postal Service somewhere – I’m eager to read it, but haven’t had the chance yet!

TTS: Which do you prefer? Collaborating, writing your own novel or writing a short story?

Jon: At the moment, with a huge Jefferson Bass novel deadline bearing down on my like a bullet train, I’d very much rather be writing a short story!

TTS: If you could collaborate with ANY author (and I’m excluding Dr. Bass because you already do ) who would you collaborate with and why?

Jon: ANY author? Wow, you’ve put me on a very long leash here, and I’m gonna stretch it to the limit: William Shakespeare! His characters are fascinating, his plots are brilliant, his dialogue is incredible, his insults are spectacular, and his productivity is prodigious. I’m not sure how much I’d bring to the collaborative table – maybe a bit more forensic knowledge – but it would be amazing to try.

TTS: What do you feel makes a great short story?

Jon: A good short story is like a double shot of tequila –highly distilled, with enough kick to knock you on your ass, figuratively speaking. (Am I allowed to say “knock you on your ass” here?) Sometimes the kick comes from a twist – O. Henry was a master of that – but sometimes it comes from an event that you know all along is inevitable: you see the car hurtling along the country road, you see the train highballing down the track, and you know that they’re gonna end up at the railroad crossing at the same time, and you’re mesmerized by the inexorability of the coming collision.

TTS: Short stories are well, short! You have to cram a lot into only a few pages. What are the biggest mistakes you’ve seen made with short stories?

Jon: It’s tempting to put in too much backstory or explication. Ideally, we can glean virtually all we need to know about a story’s characters by what they say and do in the real-time action of the story.

TTS: What do you feel the differences are between writing a short story and writing a novel? Is the process different?

Jon: I’m just making this up on the fly, so don’t hold me to any of this (after all, I’ve now published all of two – count ‘em, two! – short stories, so I don’t have as much data on that process as I have on novel-writing (nine novels; scrambling to finish #10 right now!). But my top-of-the-head impression is that a short story crystallizes swiftly in the mind – like that supersaturated solution that suddenly rains down a bunch of precipitate the moment you drop a seed crystal into it. A novel is more like a river: convoluted and flowing, sometimes slowly, sometimes in a torrent, over a much longer time, through ever-changing interior, authorial landscapes. Or some such.

TTS: What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

Jon: As I say, I’m working feverishly to finish the tenth Body Farm novel, Without Mercy, which will be published in the summer of 2016. As soon as I turn in that manuscript, I start working on a solo thriller novel, which I think comes out in spring 2017.

TTS: Once again I’d like to thank Jon Jefferson for visiting us today! It’s been great having you and maybe I can have you back when I read your other books and Dr. Bass too! I would love that! Cold Blooded is available now!

Cold Blooded Anthology

Bestselling authors Jeffery Deaver and Anne Perry join rising stars like Dana Chamblee Carpenter and Paul Gail Benson in a collection that proves Music City is a deadly place to be when your song gets called.

Featuring stories by: Donald Bain, Robert Dugoni, Jefferson Bass, Mary Burton, Jonathan Stone, Steven James, Maggie Toussaint, Clay Stafford, Heywood Gould, Jaden Terrell, and more…

Every year, some of the biggest names in the thriller world converge in Tennessee for the Killer Nashville conference, an event where stars of the genre rub elbows with their most devoted fans, where the bestsellers of tomorrow pick up tricks of the trade, and where some of the best writers of today swap dark tales of good deals gone bad, rights made wrong, and murder in all shades…

This collection of new stories features some of the biggest names in suspense, from bestsellers to ferociously talented newcomers. Grouped around the classic theme of murder, KILLER NASHVILLE NOIR: COLD-BLOODED is a first-class collection and a must-have for fans of the genre.

Buy it now at:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble


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Giveaway for Cold Blooded


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In a tale of conspiracy, Jon Jefferson (National Geographic filmmaker and half the writing team of NY Bestselling author Jefferson Bass) shares the twisting story of George Hartley who only wanted to make a difference in this world, but discovered no one was paying attention. After his wife is cruelly taken from him, he is willing to give his blood – and even someone else’s – to even the score.

Jon Jefferson — the “writer” half of the bestselling crime-fiction duo “Jefferson Bass” — is a prolific author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. Collaborating with forensic anthropologist Dr. Bill Bass (founder of the University of Tennessee’s “Body Farm”), Jefferson has written two nonfiction memoirs and nine crime novels, seven of them New York Times bestsellers. Jefferson has also written and produced more than two-dozen documentaries for the History Channel, the Arts & Entertainment Network, the Oxygen Network, and the National Geographic Channel. His two National Geographic documentaries about the Body Farm were broadcast worldwide, to an audience of millions.

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Misty

Misty graduated from Capital University in 2005 with a degree in English Literature. She is an avid reader and is the owner of The Top Shelf

  • Lance Wright

    Terrific interview! Thanks so much for introducing this author to us. And what a great anthology that he’s contributed to!

    • Thanks Lance! Was really fun interviewing him. The short story in the anthology is great! I need to read the rest of them.