Friday, October 4, 2013

Author Interview Jeff High - More Things in Heaven and Earth

I'm pleased to welcome today to The Reading Frenzy author Jeff High as he talks about his new novel, the first in a new series; More Things in Heaven and Earth. On his website he has a News Button that links readers to happenings in his new fictional town of Watervalley. When I asked him what fans will find on this page he said––"Perhaps the most fun is the monthly Watervalley News Update. These short stories have the inside skinny on hilarious recent events such as the panty situation in the worship service at Watervalley First Presbyterian a couple of weeks ago..." See the rest of this answer and more below!

  • ISBN-13: 9780451419262
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Pages: 464

Interview with Jeff High 10-4

Overview: FIRST IN A NEW SERIES! Tucked away in the rolling Tennessee countryside is the charming community of Watervalley, whose inhabitants are quirky and captivating and more surprising than you might expect. As an ambitious young doctor with a penchant for research, Luke Bradford never wanted to set up practice in a remote rural town. 
“Told through the eyes of Dr. Luke Bradford, a newly minted MD, the story of the little town of Watervalley, Tennessee, and its inhabitants comes vividly to life. Jeff High's medical background gives him that cutting edge in the technical details of his tale and his love of his native Tennessee and the human race shines from every page. Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly is delighted to welcome Luke, a TransAtlantic colleague to be fiercely proud of.” —Patrick Taylor, MD, New York Times bestselling author of the Irish Country Doctor novels.
“The best of small-town Americana and the eccentrics who live there are brought to life in More Things in Heaven and Earth. This story warmed me, made me laugh and then kept a smile on my face. It’s delightful, compassionate, humorous, tightly woven. If you’re looking for a feel-good read, spend an afternoon with Jeff High’s novel.” —Charles Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Unwritten and When Crickets Cry
“A well-spun story of the mystery and microcosm that is small-town America. Jeff High skillfully captures the healing places, the hurting places, and the places where we so often find out who we are truly meant to be.” —Lisa Wingate, National Bestselling Author of Tending Roses and The Prayer Box

Jeff welcome to The Reading Frenzy

Tell us about the new novel The More Things in Heaven and Earth.
The novel is about a very urban and cultivated young doctor named Luke Bradford who takes a job as the sole physician in an isolated middle Tennessee community. Reluctantly, he has signed a three-year commitment in return for having his college loans paid off.  He’s quite brilliant, but his early days there are a disaster….not in terms of his medical practice, but with outrageous and laughable events surrounding his arrival. From this auspicious start, his new world only becomes more complex. Small town life provides an education he never saw coming.

Jeff, paying back medical school loans by practicing rural medicine is an actuality.
Where did your idea for the novel/series start?
One of my brothers actually did this. We grew up in a small Tennessee community and after med school he was able to return here because there was a deficiency with the number of physicians to the population base.

Jeff how do you incorporate your personal knowledge of medicine as a RN into the novel?
The majority of my clinical work and training has been in cardiac nursing, so cardiac issues tend to take center stage. As well, working in cardiac surgery as well as at a major research hospital such as Vanderbilt has definitely influenced my writing. However, there’s a tricky balance regarding the inclusion of medical issues in a story. While descriptions and medical insights need to be accurate, nothing can generate a yawn like tedious medical details. The novel maintains a compelling story line with only an essential amount of medical information in the mix.

Jeff this is the first in a new series. How exciting!
Do you have a planned number in the series?
I highly suspect there will be at least four or five books in the series. I grew up in a small town, still live in a small town, and will always love small towns. There’s just no end to the stories they provide.
The literary market is pretty crazy… there’s a lot of diversity. I’d like to think that the stories of Watervalley are an exhilarating breath of fresh air. They are “glass half full” stories about people in small town America. With each book in the series, the reader can have a simple expectation of escaping into a world of lively, whimsical, absurd, and moving characters. If only for a sublime moment, the stories will transport you to a place and a life that is rich and wonderful.

Jeff you grew up in rural Tennessee. Hmmm, sounds familiar.
Will any of your neighbors or friends recognize themselves between the pages of your novel?
Surprisingly, no… although I think some of them would like to be included. It’s the South, and none of my friends are bashful. The key characters are bits and pieces of people I have known over the years, people who I admired and respected, who had an irrepressible optimism about life, and who always seemed to laughing about something.

Jeff on your website you’ve got a News button that features articles from your fictional town of Watervalley. In fact I found a great recipe for a Tomato Pie, that’s pretty cool!
What sort of things will fans find on your town blog?
Perhaps the most fun is the monthly Watervalley News Update. These short stories have the inside skinny on hilarious recent events such as the panty situation in the worship service at Watervalley First Presbyterian a couple of weeks ago. That story is in the September News Update. But there are also a lot of quick tidbits from the Watervalley farmers Co-Op, automotive tips from Chick’s Garage, a monthly calendar of Watervalley events, and, of course, some really great Southern recipes.  There’s plenty to put a smile in your day.

Jeff you work as an RN in the operating room.
When do you write?
Is it your plan to one-day write full time?
Being an RN provides some flexibility in your schedule, so I’m able to find some days along the way to concentrating on writing. And sure, I would love to be able to write full time. Admittedly, however, I enjoy what I do and work with a great bunch of people. As well, there’s something to be said for staying connected to the everyday working world. It provides the fuel for great stories.

Speaking of your RN career.
What was it like being a traveling Nurse and what exactly is a traveling Nurse?
Travel nursing is a blast but not for the faint of heart. Because there is a nursing shortage in certain specialties, hospitals will take on RN travelers to fill in the gap for short periods. Typically the assignments are for thirteen weeks. It gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in different parts of the country -the people, the history, and the vastly different landscapes across America. I met a lot of great people who always guessed I was from the South as soon as I spoke to them. How did they know?

Jeff where did your love of writing stem from and when did you decide to take the plunge?
My first degree was in English and I have always written for my own entertainment without much thought of publication. But while I was working at Vanderbilt Medical Center, on a whim I entered a writing contest held each year by one of their publications. For three consecutive years I was published as one of the winners. So, I began to be a lot more intentional about writing. Like everybody else, I received plenty of rejections by literary agencies. But I was fortunate enough to eventually garner the attention of a wonderful agent in New York who in turn connected me with my remarkable, tough, and talented editor at Penguin.

Jeff will there be a signing author event tour for the release of the novel?
Yes! The launch party for the book will be at Parnassus Books in Nashville on October 6 along with a book signing at Malaprops in Ashville on October 13. The additional book signing events will be announced on the Watervalley website and on the Watervalley Facebook page.

Thank you for answering a few nosey questions, but being from a small town I’m sure you’re used to it  Good Luck!
Thanks so much for the opportunity!

Connect with Jeff  WebsiteFacebook - Twitter


  1. Love the setting for this and am curious about the Doc's interaction with the townsfolk. Wonderful interview :)

    1. Thanks Kim, doesn't it sound interesting, like all small towns