From the moment Jeff Lindsay walked in it was obvious he was a lively and personable guy. As one person put it fondly after Jeff’s discussion: “It was like he was a normal guy just yacking at the pub.”
Jeff described his experience of doing a cameo on the TV show Dexter (which is based on his novels), in which he got a taste of celebrity as he was unexpectedly treated as the revered ‘creator’ on set.
He discussed the similarities and differences between the characters in the Dexter novels and the Dexter TV show. He is very happy with how the TV show is being made and has loved Michael C Hall in the role of Dexter since he saw him deliver his first line. He said listening to Michael C Hall deliver his first line “gave me goosebumps. […] The way he said it told me this was the guy.” He discussed how he treats the novels as separate from the TV show and continues to write the novels (almost entirely) as if the TV show didn’t exist.
When asked about the mix of comedy and horror or darker concerns in his novels, Jeff replied that comedy comes naturally to him in whatever he writes, and he “never met a really good comedian who isn’t a miserable bastard.” He said: “Those who are blessed, or cursed, with comedic ability just do it naturally. You can’t turn it off.” He described his writing strategy for Dexter as a process of trying to “hit the space between horror and hilarity.”
He discussed how it took five years to sell the first Dexter manuscript. Jeff said he gave up after a while but his wife “kept flogging it” despite reassurances such as: “It’s okay, honey. I’ll just get a real job.”
He described how the first Dexter novel was intended as a one-off, until a TV producer read a review in The New Yorker and pitched it to Showtime.
Jeff described how he resists thinking: “How do I top the last story?” That’s why he originally thought of the first novel as a standalone (how do you keeping getting more intense when you start out with a serial killer working as a crime scene blood spatter expert?).
He said: “I’m desperate to go back to the theatre and write another play or two, and I have a few other projects I’m working on.” However, Jeff said he expects those projects to be a while off, after another Dexter novel or two.
Jeff read an excerpt from his next Dexter novel, Double Dexter, in which Dexter goes camping in the desert with his step-son Cody who is fascinated with how many potentially deadly things there are in the desert and the ways in which they might kill someone; an interest Cody takes far more enjoyment in than joining in with the activities of the other campers.
More on Jeff Lindsay and his fiction can be found in the article A Chat with Jeff Lindsay (CBD, Melbourne), including more on Jeff’s theatre and literary interests and on Double Dexter.
The Australian Literature Review