The Trust, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Trust?
SEAN KEEFER: The Trust is my debut novel. It’s a tale of mystery and suspense set in Charleston, South Carolina. Generally when people ask, I give an overview genre description as thriller/mystery/suspense.
The novel follows attorney Noah Parks as he represents the estate of a mysterious, very wealthy, recluse. Though Parks has never before heard of the recluse, in the will he is left the contents of a safety deposit box which no one before knew existed.
During his work on the estate, things start to occur. The executor dies, the recluse’s daughter appears and is charged with murder as well as a few other twists and turns.
As Parks works through the case, the more questions that are answered, the more questions develop leading up to a suspense-filled ending.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
SEAN KEEFER: I start with a general premise of the character. Take the main character, Noah Parks. He’s an attorney who owns his own law firm where he is the only attorney. I know a lot of attorneys, so I started with a general understanding of the life Parks would have. From that point as a foundation, I started to think of characteristics, personality traits, even eccentricities that I wanted Parks to have. By adding these individually, collectively I am able to build a character that is more complete; however, I believe that regardless of the character traits I give a character, his persona in The Trust is defined and will not be totally complete until we see how he reacts to the situations which confront him in the book.
By undertaking this process, obviously in greater detail, character has the ability to be unique and react in their individual way when confronted with different situations in the book.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
SEAN KEEFER: When I wrote The Trust, my focus was to be on a book that told an intriguing story that made the reader want to keep turning to the next page, but that was, at the same time, a quick read. I believe that the ideal reader would be someone who wants a book for a weekend read, a vacation, a plane trip or some other literary escape. Of course my ideal reader is also one that will be patiently awaiting the next book…
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
SEAN KEEFER: I have always enjoyed the written word—even as far back as my childhood when I spent hours in the local library devouring the books on hand.
I focused on journalism in college and have always been involved in some form of writing whether it was short stories, non-fiction magazine articles, personal journals or writing for work.
About 7 years ago I started The Trust and it has been a process ever since to have it published. In that is finally complete, but has whet my appetite to start the process over again.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
SEAN KEEFER: I always start my writing with a basic idea, sometimes even one scene. In The Trust I had the idea that an attorney had a client come into his office and present him a will. A will that was from a deceased person the attorney had never heard of. The will also required the attorney to represent the estate and when the estate was closed the attorney was to receive the contents of a safety deposit box that no one knew existed. That was where I started and The Trust is the result.
When I actually write, I either enjoy the solitude of my home office or I like to be alone in public. I had the opportunity when writing The Trust to attend a number of conferences and I would write in the lobbies of the hotels. Great place to get lost in the crowd.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
SEAN KEEFER: One of my favorite writers is John Kennedy Toole—author of my favorite book, A Confederacy of Dunces. If anyone book made me want to be a writer, it was this one. Tragic story behind the author, but wonderful book.
When I first started reading what I would call adult novels, I read a great deal of Stephen King and though I don’t read much of his genre any longer, I have always admired King as an author. Maybe because we have the same initials.
Lately I have found three writers that I can’t get enough of: Ron Rash, John Hart and Tom Franklin.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
SEAN KEEFER: Though it is a bit redundant, A Confederacy of Dunces for the reasons above.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
SEAN KEEFER: I am learning that as a writer these days getting the work out there is just a small part of the process. My experience has been similar to many I have heard in that the larger publishing houses are simply not taking as many chances on newer authors, particularly authors like me who are as of yet unheard of.
This left me in the position that many writers find themselves in that once the work is out there the lion’s share of the marketing rests with me. I wish I had a huge ad budget, but alas, I don’t. This means a blog, networking, social media, shameless self-promotion and then repeating all of the above on literally a daily basis.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
SEAN KEEFER: Kindle is a great format. It allows the readers to purchase new novels at a cost much less than that of the hardbacks or even paperbacks that are hitting the market. It allows for instant gratification for the reader and once a work is digital it is there forever. You can even enjoy new books without leaving the comfort of your own home. It also saves on printing, storage, and the list goes on.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
SEAN KEEFER: I would say go for it; however, just because you self-publish doesn’t mean that you can forego things like editing and cover design. Put some time and effort (and $$$) into this. It is easier to get the work out there on Kindle, but you still want to have a good product that is appealing to the masses.
Publish it, market it, and start writing the follow up!
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Growing up in South Carolina, Sean’s life was molded around the styles, mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, dialects and culture of the South. The time Sean spent traveling the Carolinas and the rest of the country, together with his South Carolina roots, give him a vast array of experiences and observations that he draws upon and blends together in his writing.
After studying law, Sean settled in Charleston, South Carolina and instantly became enamored with the people and city he chose to call his home.
Inspired by a lifelong love of the written word, one day Sean began writing. A page became a chapter that ultimately became a book known as The Trust.
The experience of taking a novel from conceptualization to print has been one of frustration, reward, learning, and old-fashioned hard work. It was an accomplishment just to have finished the novel. Each step from the first words hitting the page to the eve of the publication of The Trust has been a personal reward for Sean.
Sean lives with his wife and two Australian Shepherds in Charleston, South Carolina.
Visit his website.
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