Officer Clay Jeppsen of the Arizona Capitol Police was patrolling graveyard shifts when he discovered his passion for writing.
Driving for hours in the early morning nearly put him to sleep, and he knew he needed to think about something, anything, to pass the time. One night he began to formulate the plans for a feature film. He thought of everything, including a theatrical trailer that would precede it.
But his creativity took a different turn. His wife, Lindsey, encouraged him to write a book instead.
Jeppsen’s first book, “Field of Blackbirds”, is a work of historical fiction. Jeppsen said he hopes it will be published soon. The book primarily takes place in Yugoslavia and focuses on four young men who set out on separate personal journeys, culminating with their meeting during the Kosovo Crisis of 1992.
“My wife is half-Serbian, and before getting married I didn’t know a whole lot about it,” he said. “I started reading up on their culture to jibe with my wife’s family, and I was amazed by it. I was also amazed at how people seemed to know so little about it.”
Three of the four main characters in the book have girlfriends, and Jeppsen enlisted his wife to write the female monologues.
“I wanted their parts to be super realistic,” he said. “I wanted all of the comments and innuendos to be genuinely female.”
Jeppsen says a Serbian editor is checking the book for cultural errors. Since Jeppsen hopes the novel will be a best-seller in Serbia, he wants to avoid offending potential readers.
“I had to be really careful because that conflict is so intense,” he said. “A Serb’s point of view is drastically different than an Albanian’s point of view.”
Jeppsen already has written manuscripts for three novels, and he is working on an autobiography as well. Two of the novels, “The Voice of My Fathers” and “Lucky Strike,” are historical fiction.
“The Voice of My Fathers” is a story about a senator who was visited by the spirits of dead presidents in a quest to save the country. “Lucky Strike” is about an American soldier being transported through Iraq and instead transporting back to World War II in 1944.
“Most of my books will have ties to history, because I want to mix fantasy with reality and history,” said Jeppsen. “I want kids to read these books and remember elements of them when they’re in high school.”
His autobiography, called “The Field is White,” will chronicle the two years Jeppsen spent as a missionary in Poland. He said the story includes hospital trips, street brawls and an unforgettable visit to the site of the Auschwitz death camp.
Jeppsen is planning to retire from the police force in 10 years. By then he wants to have published at least two books.
“I would like nothing more than to retire and write all of the time,” he said.