Interview: Jeff Hirsch, Author of The Eleventh Plague

A)    Who are you?


1. What is your favorite animal? 

I have simple tastes. I like scrappy short haired mutts and taciturn but secretly affectionate cats. If you’re talking wild animals, I do love a good giraffe. They look like they shouldn’t exist, but there they are.

2. If you were a superhero, what power would you want?

I want, more than anything, the superhuman ability to erase and restore portions of my memory at will. Why? With that power I could finish the first draft of a book then completely wipe it from my memory before reading it and starting the second draft. I don’t thinking there could possibly be a better rewriting tool than the ability to read your book the way a regular reader would.

3. What did you get a degree in, if any? What do you do for work? Does that relate to your book in any way?

BFA in Acting and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from UC San Diego. During the day I work at a non-profit in the ad industry. We do award shows,  educational programs and the like. I suppose spending my days in corporate America has taught me something about surviving an apocalyptic wasteland. 🙂

4. Are you left-handed or right-handed?


5. It’s the zombie apocalypse: what office supply do you bring? Because it’s the only way to take them down. I have binder clips. Another friend has paperclips. Someone else is bringing staples. Duplicate supplies are welcome and will be necessary 😉 (yes, this is a joke question.)

You know those paper cutters that are little tables with a swing arm on the side that has a big sharp blade on it? That’s what I’m heading for. Remove that arm and you’ve got a perfect zombie cleaving machete.

B) Reading/Inspiration


1. Who are some of your favorite authors? books? movies? tv shows? Did any inspire you for 11th Plague?

Let’s see. Authors? Susan Cooper, Jeffrey Eugenides, Michael Chabon, Tim O’Brien to name just a small few. Books? The Dark is Rising. How I Live Now. The White Darkness. Feed. Lonesome Dove. The Stand. Tv Shows? Buffy. Homicide. Battlestar Galactica. Mad Men. Parks and Rec. Louie. Movies? Since theres way too many to even try to mention, my fallback position for favorite movie has always been and always will be The Outsiders.

As to inspiration for The Eleventh Plague, I thinkGary Paulsen’s Hatchet helped inspire the tone and focus of the book.

2. Music and food are important to gaining inspiration. What music do you listen to for inspiration? What food is your comfort food? Inspiring food?

Both those things are incredibly important to me, but I can’t say I use either as inspiration. However, when I’m really stuck on something I’m writing I have been known to retreat to the kitchen where I listen to The Clash and bake a pie. There’s something about doing that that really hits my mental reset button. Plus, afterwards there’s pie.

3. What are you currently reading? Perhaps recently reading? What are you looking forward to reading next?

Just finished Lev Grossman’s The Magician King, the sequel to The Magicians. Loved both but actually preferred the sequel. Looking forward to Sarah Darer Littman’s Want to Go Private and Jeffrey Eugenides’ new book.

4. You’re stranded on an island with 5 books of your choosing. What are those 5 books? (I’ll give you a sixth if you name The Eleventh Plague.)

Lonesome Dove

The Stand

The Lord of the Rings

Moby Dick (this way i might finally get around to reading it)

SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate o

SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the WIld, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea


5. You said in another interview you had a thought about a dad and son burying and grandpa and that The Eleventh Plague came from there. Where did you go next? Meaning, what did you do to get to the next part of the book?


I know this sounds overly simplistic but really I just tried to go through it step by step. It went something like this.  “Ok. They’re on a hill. The next thing they need to do is get down off the hill and get back on the trial. Except now Dad is thinking he doesn’t want to be on the trail anymore, but he doesn’t know how to tell his son that.” Once I had that I had an activity they needed to do (get down off the hill and get back on the trail) and the beginnings of an interpersonal conflict and an internal conflict.


C) Writing/Inspiring Thoughts:


1. What was your least favorite part of writing/publishing The Eleventh Plague? How did you get through that time?


Honestly the whole thing was amazingly smooth. My editors and the whole team at Scholastic are great. If anything was tough it was waiting for the book to get out there and to start hearing what people think of it.


2. What is one piece of advice that you wish you’d had before starting this whole ordeal of writing and publishing?


That it takes time to get to where you need to be to get published and that the timeline is different for everyone. Some people write their first book and hit a homerun, some people take years. Some of those nights of self doubt would have been alot easier if I knew I was more of the latter.


3. You’ve just won some prestigious award for The Eleventh Plague. What do you say in your acceptance speech?


Oh, I think it would just be a ridiculous amount of thanking people. My wife first and foremost but it’s really amazing how many people it took to make this whole thing happen.


4. Any new projects on the horizon? What about book signings or public speaking?


Yep, I’m working on the second draft of a novel call Magisterium that will be coming out Fall 2012 from Scholastic. It’s the story of a 15 year old girl named Glenn and her adventure in a world where the laws of the universe aren’t entirely consistent.


5. T.J.’s Triangle Self-Evaluation: There is only one wrong answer and multiple correct ones. Imagine, if you will, a triangle with the top point having the word “RANDOM” on it. The bottom left has the word “COOL” on it and the bottom right is “WEIRD”. Where do you put yourself in the triangle? You can use this as a reference to visualize the thought:


Hmm. I’d say somewhere between random and weird. Maybe closer to random since I never know what I’m going to be like on a day to day basis.


New Blog

Recently, I’ve been thinking I need to do a little revamping of my blog, including changing the domain name. See, here’s the story behind my blog.

Back in the summer of 2009 (I know, that’s like a REALLY long time ago), Casey told me I needed a blog. I didn’t agree. Then eventually we came up with a blog. Something that people may not know about me is I have gone by 2 names over the past 10 years: T.J. and Tim.  All my new friends called me T.J. while my family and old So Cal friends called me Tim.

Well, I’m to the point where more people know me as T.J. than know me as Tim. But since Casey was the blog creator, we went with and Timothy Types TMI as the blog title. Recently, I’ve changed it to T.J. Types TMI, but I can’t change the domain very easily. So I still get the occasional “Tim” comment. I don’t mind, but it really just isn’t the name I’m accustomed to seeing and have it be associated to me.

To be honest, my dad even calls me T.J. now (random bit of trivia, he was the first to call me T.J. when I was born, but only my mother’s father called me T.J. after I was 1 until he died when I was 11.) After my dad got remarried, I was surprised at the fact that his wife as well as my step-siblings were all introduced to me with my name being T.J. When I asked him when he started calling me T.J., his wife asked “What else would he call you?” Apparently, I’d always been T.J. to her.

Well, anyway, I’ve recently decided to move this blog to another wordpress site that’ll hopefully be easier to locate. The address is: But, my favorite part about it is what the sites name is. No, it has nothing to do with my name. But click on it and you’ll see a fairly familiar phrase for those who follow my blog regularly. So, starting in September, I’ll be blogging from there. Until then….

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.


What Is This?

So, I haven’t blogged at all this month. (The one post I’ve made from August 2011 was one written up by author friend Tristi Pinkston to promote her wonderful new book.)

Life has been busy. First, the month of July was met with my wife’s family reunion and joining my dad, his wife, and my step-sister and her family at Disneyland. (Spoiler alert: Disneyland is still awesome.) Plus, I had a lot of other things going on in July that involved video games. August has also had video games taking up time. But both July and August have been busy with work and…well…work. I haven’t even had time to work on my book.

Not like that would matter much though since I technically lost it. What does that mean? Well, it means that I own a flash drive and it is nowhere to be found. On that flash drive are so many files that I’ve put a lot of hours working on. It has all the versions of my Eli story on it. The one saving grace is I still have a full printout of the entire book (which will require a massive amount of transcribing). Also, I have the first 30 pages I sent to writing buddy Graham Bradley with his snide comments.

The strange thing was, I didn’t seem to care nearly as much as I thought I would. Yeah, it really does suck. But I’ve been very unmotivated in writing. Last year at this time I was stressed with trying to get Eli ready for submissions. And really, it took a full rewrite between then and now to make it 10x better than it was. And somehow, I’ve lost all writing motivation.

One problem I’ve had is I’ve been distracted by a lot. See, a few months ago, Netflix added The True Story of Wrestlemania and a few other WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment, former World Wrestling Federation) “shows” to watch in their instant stuff. I bet a lot of you have said “wrestling is stupid.” And you know what, I’ve said it too. Guess what, I still say it. But I’m addicted to it again.

Another addiction is my friend Andrew introducing me to this game called Terraria. It’s awesome. At least, it is to me.

But with all that said, I feel an end of my writing break coming. I’ve been met with looking at different stories I’ve wanted to write. Part of me wants to give up on Eli. But part of me says that he just needs a refresher and it’ll be even better. Either way, I’ll get there. Lately, I’ve felt very disorganized with everything and I need to do some personal organization of my life. Once I get things in order, I will be back on my blog more, bringing you hilarious mashups shared between Casey and I, random 10 things that hopefully have something to do with one another, and of course, the most random topics I can come up with.

Before I sign off, let me tell you about 2 books I’m excited about:

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch: The link you get with the book’s title will take you to a special 4-chapter sneak peak at the book. And when you’re done with chapter 4, you’re going to want more. Seriously, took me less than 30 minutes to read the whole thing and I’m a slow reader. I love the cover, to begin with. And even better, I loved what I was introduced to.

And of course….

Variant by Robison Wells: Yes, everyone whose known me over the past few years has watched my fanboy status change from one a-maze-ing author to this guy. Besides being awesome (which is how he introduced me to Sara Crowe at Storymakers back in May), he’s an awesome author. Okay, I haven’t read this book. But I’ve read the first page or two and that was enough to make me want to steal the book and miss the movie. (Glad I didn’t though.)

Currently: I’m attempting to read Catching Fire at home and I Don’t Want to Kill You by Dan Wells while I work out. I’m failing on all accounts, but I’ll get there eventually. I still have Possession by awesomesauce Elana Johnson to read.

What have you been up to?

I guess this blog is long enough….so until next time….


Tristi Pinkston’s New Book

Today, I have a blurb that’ll send you to a whole new world. Well, to see my author friend Tristi.
Author Tristi Pinkston is excited to announce the release of the third novel in her Secret Sisters Mysteries series.

Titled Hang ‘em High, this novel takes place on a dude ranch in Montana.When Ida Mae’s son invites her to come for a visit, of course she brings Arlette and Tansy along with her.They are expecting to spend the week looking at horses, avoiding the cows, and making amends in Ida Mae’s relationship with her son.What they don’t expect is to be stuck on the ranch in the middle of a blizzard and to be thrust headlong into the middle of a mystery.

Help Tristi celebrate her new novel in two ways.First, come participate in the two-week-long blog contest, where you can win a book nearly every single day!All the details are up on Tristi’s blog.

Second, come to the book launch!

You are invited to an

August Authorama!

Saturday, August 13th

Pioneer Book, 858 S. State, Orem

12 – 4 pm

Games, prizes, balloons, face painting,

and Dutch oven cobbler

prepared by world champion cook

Keith Fisher.

Authors Tristi Pinkston, J. Lloyd Morgan, Cindy Hogan,

Nichole Giles, and Heather Justesen

will all be there to sign books.

This is one book launch event

you will not want to miss!

Update: I Am Alive

Yes, I’m not dead. No I haven’t dropped off the planet. I just don’t have time to blog much lately.

First, I am studying for my CMA exam (Certified Management Accountant, for the majority of the world, which doesn’t have any clue what that is). So, in studying, there is an extreme lack of writing/editing time.

Second, I’m doing what I can to remain active on Twitter. If you miss my awesomeness, please go visit me on Twitter and breath again since I’m there far too often.

Third, my beautiful and awesome wife gave me a great t-shirt yesterday, which reads, “TO START LET’S JUST ASSUME I’M NEVER WRONG.” This goes well with my “DO NOT START WITH ME, YOU WILL NOT WIN” t-shirt. Of course, my Big Dogs shirt of “HOW’S MY ATTITUDE? DIAL 1-800-BITEME” is always a winner. I still miss my shirt that said “I’M NOT SAYING YOU’RE DUMB, IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING.” If I was really popular and published and semi-untouchable, I’d wear these shirts to writers conferences. I’d even convince my wife that I need an “I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER” t-shirt.

Fourth, I’ve been spending free time playing Magic with my best friend Andrew. It’s nice to have an addiction that someone close by can help me feed. And you know what that does for me? Gives me story ideas. One day, I’ll have a really good one from these random cards.

Fifth, I had a weird dream last night where Casey‘s husband and I were getting ready for a double-date with our wives. And then I woke up creating a story about time-travelers unraveling in my head. I think I may have to start jotting down notes.

Sixth, I have been in a lot of pain lately in my right arm. I may have carpal tunnel. Getting a test for that today. Wish me luck. (UPDATE: Not carpal tunnel. Something called ulnar tunnel is high possibility.)

Seventh, I am not really certain what my writing future holds.

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

Ninjas vs Clowns, part I

(Artwork by Graham Bradley)

In the city of Ferrerton, there ruled an evil empire run by Boogey Lowerbrow, leader of the Clowns. With their master thievery and ability to torture their victims, Boogey maintained control of Ferrerton. One of his minions was elected mayor. Three of the five city council members worked for him. Ferrerton’s five biggest businesses were owned by Boogey.

The clowns and their big, creepy smiles were everywhere. With the ability to fit 10 of them in a VW Bug, it was difficult to catch them. Even members of Ferrerton’s PD were corrupt.

And that brings us to today, a usual city council meeting, where Jen Amazing and T.J. Powers prepare themselves to lose another vote. This was an important vote as it would make sure that the Clowns’ bozo businesses would have to pay more taxes that Jen and T.J. have commissioned would go to the failing elementary schools. (Yes, they’re that heroic.)

The meeting begins like any other. Mayor Fanklestein (Lowebrow’s right-hand man) bangs his rubbery gavel, making it squeak against the desk.

Ugh, he’s so annoying, Jen thinks. If he would stop pretending he’s not linked to the creepy Clowns, he’d at least be semi-tolerable. Look at him with that ridiculous “child-at-his-own-birthday-party” attitude. It’s like this is all a game to him.

“Let’s get this meeting under way. The budget, of course, is the most important part of today’s meeting.”

The mayor’s squeaky voice annoyed T.J. I wonder if the mayor ever actually hit puberty. He smiled at his own joke. With a pen in hand, he doodled lines. It was the only way to relieve the boredom. Just ten more weeks until the election. I can get voted out and leave Ferrerton.

The mayor looked around at the red-nosed filled room. Do any of those in attendance have an objection to the proposed changes in Ferrerton’s annual budget?”

The room was silent.

Mayor Fanklestein looked to the back of the room, Lowerbrow sat there and nodded approval.

Ugh, Jen thought. Seriously, Lowerbrow’s fake tear on his cheek is about as useful as this meeting.

The Mayor looked around at the five city councilmembers. “Do any of you have anything to say against this budget?”

“Yes,” Jen said. The room got loud with honking of noses and squeaking of toy horns. “I have…I HAVE….I HAVE AN ISSUE HERE!!!!”

No one seemed to be listening.

T.J. leaned into his microphone, “Could you quiet down, please?”

Again, no one was listening.

I give up. Jen leaned back in her chair. The room got quiet as soon as Jen stopped talking. “I think that-”

The noise in the room prevented her from speaking any more.

A sword flew from the back of the room, landing behind the mayor, silencing the room.

In the back doorway stood three people, dressed in black, their faces covered.

Mayor Fanklestein unnecessarily banged his squeaky gavel. “Who are you?”

“For all intents and purposes, I am Oop, leader of the Ninjas.” Oop gestured to the people standing behind him. “These are my assistants: Elana Awesomesauce and Graham Chop.”

“What do you want?” The fear on the mayor’s voice made Jen and T.J. both smile.

“For you to make Councilwoman Amazing’s corrections to the budget.”

The whole congregation stood, save Lowerbrow. Flowers started squirting water toward the ninjas. Oop drew a sword from his behind his back, using it as a shield against the annoying water. Elana and Graham each pulled out a pair of sais and stood at the ready. Fake fish flew at the ninjas, Oop’s cohorts slashed the fish.

Elana and Graham leapt into the crowd as the clowns pulled out their large mallets, no longer playing nice.

All three ninjas made their way toward the front of the room, a few of the clowns not surviving the attack.

Mayor Fanklestein banged his gavel. “Meeting adjourned.”

His three favored councilmembers fled quickly. But before the mayor could leave the room, Oop stood before him. “It would be good for your health if you were to start this meeting again and announce your resignation.”

Fanklestein looked back into the crowd, Lowerbrow standing with his arms folded. As he unfolded his arms, T.J. shouted a warning to Oop as a pair of pistols were aimed at the ninjas’ leader.

A sai flew across the room as more clowns dispersed like cockroaches around a freshly lit lamp. It hit Lowerbrow’s hand, knocking one of the clown’s guns to the ground.

“This isn’t over,” Lowerbrow said. He pulled a pom from his shirt and threw it against the ground. Fanklestein did the same. Smoke expanded around them. As it cleared, they were gone.

“What are you doing here?” Jen said. “Don’t worry, I think retaliation against the clowns is necessary, but do you have to go to such violent extremes?”

Oop nodded. “No.” He looked around the room, a few dead clowns littered the ground. All the rest had fled like the cowards everyone knew them to be. “But at least they know not to mess with us as we move our plan forward.”

“And what is your plan?” T.J. asked.

“To rid Ferrerton from the clowns.”

Thank you for reading Ninjas vs Clowns, part I. Look for part II next week. And until then,

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.

The Amazing Race: LDS Authors

Guess what, it’s time for fake-reality-show-with-LDS-Authors! Why? Because I did this last year after Storymakers. And you know what, it’s just a fun tradition.

First: A little about the Emmy winning Amazing Race. Teams of 2 (usually 11-12 of them) race around the world solving clues and arriving at pit stops with mandatory 12 hours of rest. The last team to arrive at a pit stop is out of the race. So without further ado, my awesome cast list for The Amazing Race: LDS Authors

Before we get to the teams, I’ve decided that this show needs a good host. So I’ve chosen my agented friend Graham Bradley.

1. Team Wells: Robison Wells and Dan Wells. I put them in order of first novel published. Who wouldn’t want to watch the Wells brothers sparring off with one another? Threats of demons and weird schools coming up. And they can argue on who’s the better author agented by Sara Crowe.

2. Team Short and Sweet: Sarah Eden and Annette Lyon: (Yes Sarah, there is an order here.) This is probably the fan favorite team. Sarah constantly cracking short jokes and her expense, Annette freaking out that the clues misused the phrase “Couldn’t care less”. It’d just be awesome!

3. Team Dudes: James Dashner and Jeff Savage: I really see this being the lazy team who still manages to get by. And it’d be entertaining to watch James go to Greece and see his book at the airport and stop and admire it. (Well, he may do that.)

4. Team Awesomesauce: Elana Johnson and Nichole Giles: Elana’s Possession comes out soon. Oh wait, not why I’m talking about them. Elana and Nichole are seriously two of the nicest and awesomest people I know. And how could I not include my fellow reality-show loving fan, Elana? And how could I not have a ‘Team Awesomesauce’?

5. Team No Excuse: Brandon Sanderson and Howard Tayler: This will be one of the funniest teams to watch. They’d also be a pretty strong team and would have the other contestants gunning to get rid of them quickly.

6. Team Busy Bees: Josi Kilpack and Julie Wright: These two awesome authors are just so busy that it would be funny to see them be forced to sit still at an airport (without children or spouses to be worried about).

7. Team Mysterious: Stephanie Black and Traci Abramson: Both Whitney Award nominated women. The stay at home mom and the former CIA agent. Sounds like a tv show in and of itself actually.

8. Team Man-Cave: Abel Keogh and David West: Both awesome guys. Both manly-men. (Okay, that didn’t sound awkward or anything.) But both these guys are awesome and I can see them making a great team for this faux competition.

9. Team Fergie: John Ferguson and Danyelle Ferguson: Yes, I know John isn’t really a published author. But Danyelle is and she needs a great partner. So I chose her husband John. Deal with it! Also, John is hilarious and I think it’d be funny watching him race around the world. Danyelle is also sweet enough to put up with all the shenanigans he’d try do.

10. Team Siblingesque: Don Carey and Krista Jensen: Don and Krista aren’t siblings. But they do show that they’re friends. They could tolerate each other long enough for this competition. (No, Krista isn’t published, but she is under contract. Close enough in my book.)

11. Team Random: Marion Jensen and Tyler Whitesides: I know Marion already thinks that his partner should be Matthew Buckley. But there has to be four feet running, not two in this game. These guys are random, awesome, and cool. I think that’s all I can say for this team. Both funny guys. But you know what, this would be the quietest team I bet.

So, last time, I named the final 5. This time, we’re gonna go with the final three.

And they are, in no particular order: Team Busy Bees, Team Mysterious, and Team Random! I think Busy Bees just would have the drive to get to the end. Mysterious has the intelligence factor in their favor. And Random, well, because they’re random.

And my pick for The Amazing Race: LDS Authors winner:


Why? I don’t see either woman ever giving up. (Not that anyone else would be giving up.) I also see them as fairly fit and ready to go on a race around the world.

Okay, that’s it. Next year, what will I come up with? You’ll have to wait and see. As always:

Alien abductions are involuntary, but probings are scheduled.