An Interview with J.J. Livingston

DEADLINE by J. J. Livingston, a pen name for Jennifer Greer, is a fascinating read. It explores many issues women face including their treatment in Middle Eastern countries, and the timely issue of stem cell research. But it is also a book that everyone can relate with, through the action packed plot and the issues of trying to cope with PTSD, hold onto a job, being a single parent, and dealing with empty nest syndrome.

Elise Cooper: Did you cover the war in Afghanistan?

J.J. Livingstone: No. I was a journalist in Bosnia. We were at the war zone, five miles from the front lines. Periodically we were stopped and frisked at gunpoint. While there I covered a story about women and children refugees. A lot of people never made it into the camps before they were raped.

EC: Did your experiences play a role in your writing?

J.J.: I was a police reporter for the Fresno Bee. At that time there were a huge amount of murders per capita. I used to call it Gotham City. I guess I live vicariously through the characters, which is why Whit and myself are considered bulldog reporters.

EC: You were a single parent?

J.J.: Yes. My husband died when my two girls were nine months and two years old. I have been a widow for fifteen years now. My husband died instantly in a car accident. Being a single parent was a tough transition for me.

EC: You have a powerful quote; “Fear keeps you from processing grief.” Please explain.

J.J.: First you go into shock because you realize at this moment the finality of death. Yet, you don’t feel it or process it then. It’s only over time that you come to accept it. I still remember being notified as if it were yesterday. The Fresno coroner personally drove to my house even though it was an hour away. He saw I was with my children and decided to wait for my two pastors to come over to inform me.

EC: In the book you refer to Whit’s two girls going off to college. Did you experience empty nest syndrome?

J.J.: Yes. I was writing this as my youngest went off to Ole Miss. She has just graduated and received high scores on her LSAT so she can choose from the top ten law schools. My other daughter is saving up money to spend some time in the Middle East because she studied that region.

EC: What do you want readers to get out of the book?

J.J.: My whole point of writing, whether journalism or a novel, is to touch the hearts and minds of my readers. When I pick up a book I like learning something new. It is like reading a news article in a different format. I like to take on social issues and incorporate them into a fictional story.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?

J.J.: It takes place in Portland, Oregon. It will continue the backstory of Whit and her husband, John. The antagonist is a vigilante who takes out sex offenders with drones. Since he/she is a socialite I guess it has similarities to the Batman story. This next book might be published as an e-book and in print format. I sometimes think authors lose out on readers if there is only one format.