Jeffrey Marshall is a writer, novelist, and poet from Scottsdale, AZ. He’s the author of five books, including the novels Squeeze Plays, Little Miss Sure Shot, and Undetected. Undetected and Squeeze Plays were named ShelfUnbound Notable 100 Indie books in 2020 and 2022, respectively, and Squeeze Plays also was named a Book Excellence Award winner in 2023. A retired journalist and the former editor of two national business magazines, Marshall has freelanced for more than thirty publications as varied as The New York Times, High Country News, and Tail Fly-Fishing Magazine, and his short fiction has appeared in online magazines like Bright Flash Literary Review, Ariel Chart, and Vocal.com, among others. A short story he wrote took first place in the 2022 Arizona Authors competition.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
Squeeze Plays actually came to me fairly quickly. The novel is about a series of financial and other pressures—including blackmail—that are undertaken by several of the characters, and I wanted the title to be short and catchy. I never seriously considered another title.
Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?
I was an avid reader as a child and fell in love with good writing. As a teen, I read a lot of the modern classics: American writers like Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and British writers like Arthur Conan Doyle (a particular favorite), Evelyn Waugh, and Aldous Huxley. When I graduated from college, I decided I wanted to write for a living, but as a journalist, not a novelist.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
No other professions, but I’ve worked in every medium of journalism except television (though my radio experience was limited). In print, I worked primarily for newspapers and magazines, but also was involved in newsletters and journals, often as a freelancer. Something readers wouldn’t know about me: I’m an identical twin, though my brother had a varied career and was never involved in writing.
What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?
Being able to weave together a complex plot involving a number of major characters and fashion an overarching theme that ties all of them together. I also felt a lot of satisfaction in bringing in substantial doses of satire—in fact, Amazon has the book listed as a satire. I was inspired in part by Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities, a great book that satirized the misuse of money and power in New York.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
Enjoying a romp that takes them to specific locations, carefully described, in New York and London and a few other places. The wordplay, with metaphor and simile, will resonate with many readers. I also hope readers will enjoy the character development, with the various personalities and motivations. Character development is important to me as a reader, and I think too many authors give it short shrift. I would see an ideal reader as sophisticated, someone who takes pleasure in wordplay, character development, and satire—and with an interest in or appreciation for finance, which drives much of the action in the novel.
How was working with Atmosphere Press? What would you tell other writers who want to publish?
Atmosphere was the most professional of the publishers I’ve dealt with as an indie author. From the acquisition editor all the way to the final production, things were handled very professionally, and I was impressed by the team and their backgrounds. Marketing and the creation of a great website were bonuses. I would urge writers looking for a strong publisher with a network of specialists to consider Atmosphere.