Jeff Keenan ‘92, a native of Waukon, Iowa, recently published his second fiction book, Life In a Box. He sat down with UIU Editorial Director Rachel Lewey to discuss life out of the box as he finds time to pursue the passion of writing.
While at UIU, what did you major in?
I graduated with a degree in business management. I transferred from the University of Iowa and spent one semester on campus and then finished my studies at UIU-Prairie du Chien.
How did you become an author?
The process of becoming an author has evolved over time.I started out writing daily journals and continue to do so today.Admittedly, I am not the best at the technical functions of writing and I have a few people who review my work for grammar and spelling.The essence of writing is in the creative process.I have evolved from a simple, mechanical writer to someone who challenges himself to find new ways of expression. I challenge myself to give people the experience of the emotion rather than just telling them the emotion.An example of this is to write a love letter to someone without ever using the word “love”.
Is this your full time job?
Although writing is a side job for me right now, it is also a full-time pursuit.The great joy about writing is that you can pick up ideas at any time of the day. Like most authors, my desire is to make writing my only source of income.
How do you carve time for yourself to write?
Most of my writing time comes late at night or if I can carve out an hour during the day to sneak off to a coffee shop.I use my phone to keep notes when a good idea comes to me. The key to finding time is for me to be aware that creative opportunities are everywhere. Every idea has value and I have found that a simple phrase I wrote down six years ago can be weaved into a story I am working on right now.
What was your inspiration for The Main? Life In a Box?
The idea for The Main came to me after a personal journey and discovering my appreciation for the simple things in life.I am always inspired by things people do to fulfill on their commitments, and by the development of personal character that is achieved in doing so. Life In a Box is a story of a man keeping a promise to a dying friend while facing additional difficult challenges.
Anything else in the works?
The challenge in writing is to keep focused while many creative ideas float in my mind. I have been working on an idea about a controversy involving a hate group. I also have an idea for a mystery based on events that occurred in an abandoned village. I also have a philosophical discussion going on in my journal that I plan to organize into a narrative.
About Life In a Box Stuck between a marital and financial situation and an unceasing desire to keep a promise to his dying friend, David embarks on a journey to fulfill his commitment. In a lifelike fish-out-of-water scenario, David navigates language and cultural barriers to win the day. But can he convince his doubtful wife, Sarah, it is all worthwhile?