Saturday, May 12, 2018

0 Jeff Sweat, author of MAYFLY, on writing standing up to stay awake

We're thrilled to have Jeff Sweat join us to share more about his novel, MAYFLY.

Jeff, what was your inspiration for writing MAYFLY?

I’ve always been obsessed with the end of the world. I grew up in the 80s in the Cold War, and it wasn’t a question if the world would end, but when. So as a reader and an author, I started looking for fascinating whys—why the world would end. If the world is going to end, it might as well go out with a bang!

Two things happened after that. I had my mind blown by the movie Children of Men. And I read a study about humanity’s first major population booms: when we developed agriculture, and when we became old enough to have grandparents, at about age 30. Having “old” people around meant a memory to find food and water and avoid danger. It meant calmer heads to avoid war. So I asked myself: what would happen to the world if no one ever got old? We might survive, but civilization as we know it would cease to exist. That was the story I had to write.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The hardest scene, the most wrenching scene, and my favorite scene are all the same one, although it’s hard to talk about without spoiling it. It’s about Apple and Jemma and something called the Betterment. There was so much love and joy and loss in one place that it almost physically hurt to write. I cried.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or vice versa?

It’s definitely “vice versa,” because the books I’d recommend have been discovered by so many others. I love speculative fiction where characters come first, where they play with language and ideas as much as they build new worlds, and that’s what I attempted with Mayfly. So: Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood. Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi. Dark Eden, by Chris Beckett. The Amber Spyglass, by Phillip Pullman. Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughn. (And yes, that’s actually a graphic novel series, but let’s count it, anyway.)

How long did you work on MAYFLY?

I started May 1, 2014, and halfheartedly decided I would finish in one year. In April of 2015 I decided I would meet that deadline—but I thought I had 10,000 words left, not the 25,000 it actually took! I ended up writing 3,000 words a day that last week, after putting my kids to bed. My biggest enemy was fatigue—no matter how much coffee I had, I’d fall asleep over my computer. Finally I rigged up a standing desk for the last three days, just to stay awake, and even then I started to nod off. I had to write standing up the last three days just to stay awake, and finished at midnight, one year to the day after I started.

Rewriting it, pitching to an agent, rewriting it, selling it, rewriting some more? That took another 2 1/2 years. But we got to something I love.


by Jeff Sweat
Feiwel & Friends
Released 5/8/2018

Jemma has spent her life scavenging tools and supplies in her tribe's small enclave outside what used to be a big city. Now she’s a teen, and old enough to become a Mama. Making babies is how her people survive―in Jemma’s world, life ends at age seventeen.

Survival has eclipsed love ever since the Parents died of a mysterious plague. But Jemma’s connection to a boy named Apple is stronger than her duty as a Mama. Forced to leave, Jemma and Apple are joined in exile by a mysterious boy who claims to know what is causing them to die. The world is crumbling around them, and their time is running out. Life is short. Can they outlive it?

Purchase Mayfly at Amazon
Purchase Mayfly at IndieBound
View Mayfly on Goodreads


Jeff Sweat has made a living from words his entire career, starting out as an award-winning tech journalist for InformationWeek magazine and moving into marketing.

He led the content marketing team for Yahoo and pioneered its use of social media. He directed PR for two of the top advertising agencies in the country, Deutsch LA and 72andSunny. He now runs his own Los Angeles–based PR and marketing agency, Mister Sweat.

He grew up in Idaho as the middle of eight children—seven boys and one girl—and attended Columbia University in New York. Jeff lives in a big blue house in Los Angeles with his wife Sunny and their three kids, two cats, and a racing greyhound.

He loves to travel and writes everywhere he goes, even when there's not a desk. He likes karaoke, motorcycles and carpentry. He was once shot in the head with a nail gun, which was not a big of a deal as it sounds. But it still hurt like crazy.


Have you had a chance to read MAYFLY yet? Have you written something that almost physically hurt to write? What do you do to stay awake to meet a writing deadline? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Charlotte, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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