In this interview with Jeff LaFerney, the author of “Jumper,” a bestselling, award-winning science-fiction/adventure novel, talks about his Clay and Tanner Thomas mystery series. LaFerney has been a language arts teacher and coach for more than twenty years. He describes each book in the series as “a good mystery with no sex or swearing.”
In “Bulletproof,” Clay Thomas is abandoned by two of the people closest to him after a devastating injury to his father. He’s also pursued by the local police chief for crimes he didn’t commit. He is determined to find the culprit of a series of local robberies for which he’s been accused while fulfilling a promise to a ghost to solve his eleven-year-old murder.
“The main characters, who have the ability to read and control minds, are moral and good,” said LaFerney. “I developed characters who have phenomenal abilities, yet they care more about others than themselves.”
This particular novel grew out of LaFerney’s desire to challenge his protagonists. He said, “I wanted a character with the same abilities as my protagonists who uses them to commit a series of robberies. I planned a mystery where Clay Thomas would be accused of the crimes, so he’d need to get involved. However, the town I used is famous for its haunted hotel which gave me the idea of overlapping the robberies with an unsolved murder of a ghost in the hotel.”
Of those ghosts, LaFerney said, “The ghosts in the book aren’t scary, but all correspond to the actual stories that are documented about the Fenton Hotel.” He added, “There are two mysteries in Bulletproof and suspects could be guilty for either or both crimes. Though Clay and Tanner have parapsychological skills, they solve the mystery like any other detectives, gathering clues, asking questions, and getting cooperation from others.”
LaFerney sees writing as a logical extension of his background as a teacher. “I read a lot and teach books and writing,” he said. “I’ve gone a lifetime preparing for writing books. My books use lots of humorous dialogue and situations, and they move along quickly. I love mystery, misdirection, unusual characters, and surprise endings. My athletic protagonists have many similarities to my son and me.”
According to LaFerney, “The ending is a surprise, both the identity of the thief and the solution to the murder, which has been a closed case for eleven years. It’s a book for men and women, young and old.”
Jeff LaFerney’s other novels featuring Clay and Tanner Thomas include “Loving the Rain” (a suspense novel) and “Skeleton Key.” LaFerney does not have a webs tie, but can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorJeffLaFerney or on his blog at http://jefflaferney.blogspot.com/.