Fun with criminals

Mustang Shuffle is a light-hearted novel about murder and mayhem

Mild-mannered city employee by day

The first page of Jeff Norburn’s crime novel Mustang Shuffle explodes with the murder of an innocent practical joker. Murder and mayhem ensues as the pages unfold in this author’s first published work.

Norburn, a professional, mild-mannered city executive by day, is a hard-bitten, gritty crime writer by night (or in his spare time, depending on how busy he is.)

Mustang Shuffle was actually started about 10 years ago, finished in about a year and languished in Norburn’s home office until recently when he took the book out, dusted it off and decided it was the right time to begin the publishing process.

Over the years, Norburn had sporadically resurrected Mustang Shuffle (the name went through several incarnations), updated and revised parts, happy with other parts until 2008 when he realized it would be almost a complete re-write to update the book to current technological innovations (such as iPods) and locations (some businesses mentioned have gone out of business), so he determined the best plan was to set the novel in that time frame.

He made the decision to submit Mustang Shuffle to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. Norburn was excited when his book made the quarter-finals. Of the 10,000 entries in five categories, the top 500 (100 from each category) moved on to the quarter finals and Mustang Shuffle was in that five per cent.

Norburn was thrilled, especially as each of the quarter finalist’s books were reviewed by Publishers Weekly and Mustang Shuffle received a resounding endorsement.

The crime novel has plots on top of plots, innocent suburban civilians clash with criminals and bodies start piling up.

“I’ve always liked multiple story lines,” Norburn admitted.

“I started the story with the idea of a stolen car with a body in it and went from there.”

Always an avid reader, in particular crime novels, writing his own crime novel was something Norburn had in mind for a long time.

“I enjoy writing as a hobby, I like laying out the plot then fleshing out the characters.”

And he confessed plots are always rolling around in head. Is there courses to prepare a person for such a creative style? According to Norburn its important to do your research if you are planning on including specific aspects of crime. For him, one of the foundations of Mustang Shuffle was an embezzlement plot and he wanted to get it right.

This is a relatively light-hearted novel with characters the average person ready can relate to. Norburn said he likes to follow the bad guy but not in a warm and fuzzy way.

“I like them to be a little stupid and Echo is certainly that,” he said.

Characters are a hybrid of many people however, they’re mostly from Norburn’s imagination.

There’s lots of swearing by characters you’d expect to swear all the time and over the course of the novel, some of the characters actually have somewhat of a transformation, but don’t expect a deep, philosophically tome, Norburn wants the reader to be engaged and enjoy the crime spree romp.

With Mustang Shuffle well on its way, Norburn has turned his attention to his second crime novel, tentatively titled Triple Barrel, which he hopes to have on the market in 2015. With the independent publishing of his first book, the author is energized in his writing. Although he loves his day job, he also loves writing and finds the exercise provides a freedom which he finds exhilarating.

“This time I’m more focused and having gone through the experience of Mustang Shuffle, I have a clearer idea of the path. I understand the pace of the book, where I need to be in the plot to reach its natural end in a timely fashion,” he said.

Always a challenge for self-published authors, marketing Mustang Shuffle pushes Norburn. He has a Facebook page, a blog, twitter and promotion through Amazon and Kindle where his book is available. He encourages those who’ve read and enjoyed his book to post reviews to various sites and plans to be personally promoting his book at the Quensel Farmers’ Christmas Markets Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and 13 at the Arts and Rec Centre, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. through Amazon.ca and the Kindle version; Caryall Books in Quesnel and Books and Company in Prince George; as well as from the author.

Best described as light-hearted mayhem, Mustang Shuffle is a

fun read and would

make a great Christmas gift.

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