Q&A with mystery writer Jeffrey Burton

Jeffrey Burton (Photo submitted)
Jeffrey Burton (Photo submitted)

Apple Valley author Jeffrey Burton is back on the case.

This month saw publication of “The Lynchpin,” the second entry in Burton’s Agent Drew Cady mystery series.

Released by U.K.-based MP Publishing, the crime thriller follows an FBI agent investigating a murder in Duluth after a young woman’s body is pulled from Lake Superior.

“The Lynchpin” is Burton’s fourth book of fiction. In 2005 he published the short story collection “Shadow Play,” and his debut novel, “Sleuth Slayer” — a murder mystery co-written with his father, Bruce Burton — came out in 2008. “The Chessman,” the first in the Agent Drew Cady series, was released in 2012.

Burton, who works full-time as an online course designer for HealthPartners, plans to promote the book this spring, starting with a signing on May 9 at the Roseville Barnes & Noble.

He spoke with this newspaper recently about his writing habits, literary influences, and plans for the future.

At what point in your life did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been a book worm since grade school and have wanted to be a writer since junior high. I received my B.A. in journalism at the University of Minnesota and have been writing in one way, shape or form ever since.

w burton2 1 5What is your writing strategy? Do you have any writing rituals?
If an idea occurs to me, I’ll jot it down on a piece of scratch paper and toss it in my idea drawer. Then I’ll let the idea ferment for a while to frame the rest of the elements of the story.

I’m also a bit of a binge writer where, if I get in the zone, twelve hours fly past and I have to remind myself to let the dogs out. Sometimes this goes on for a few days, which is a good thing as I’m able to make huge strides. And the dogs have for the most part been good – only a few messes.

Describe your writing room.
My writing room contains bookshelves on three of the four walls. My laptop sits on the desk in front of me, a printer on my right flank, and a shredder at my back.

What’s on your writing desk?
My writing desk is shrouded in Post-It notes. I’m addicted to jotting ideas down on scratch paper the way some folks obsess about washing their hands.

What are you working on now? Any book projects in the works?
I’ve begun work on the next Agent Drew Cady mystery, tentatively titled “The Eulogist.”

Which authors have inspired you?
I love reading Michael Connelly novels. You can learn what makes for an impossible-to-put-down mystery from reading his Harry Bosch series.

What mystery novels, other than your own, do you recommend to readers interested in the genre?
I’d recommend anything by Lee Child, John Connolly, Robert Crais, John Sandford, or Harlan Coben.

What was the last truly great book you read?
“Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn.