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Interviews

Daniel Lefferts Author Photo

Daniel Lefferts On The Surprising Fusion Of Influences On His Exhilarating Debut Novel

Daniel Lefferts’s shrewd and exhilarating Ways and Means defies easy categorization, combining the social insights one would expect from E.M. Forster with the confident twists of a John Grisham novel. It’s the spring of 2016, and Mark and Elijah are young, attractive artists who have spent the past eight years half-heartedly attempting to finish their respective projects while living off Mark’s dwindling trust fund. In an attempt to smooth over their increasingly fractious relationship, they’ve invited a third into their bedroom. Their new lover, Alistair, is an ambitious finance student in his last year at New York University, devastated that he failed to secure a high-paying job that would pay off his debt and provide his mother, Maura, with financial stability. As Alistair becomes more enmeshed in Mark and Elijah’s lives, he quickly finds himself way over his head. Not only does he become emotionally entangled with the two men, but he also realizes his too-good-to-be-true part-time job with Herve, a wealthy acquaintance of Elijah’s, has far more nefarious roots than he realized. In his debut novel, Lefferts takes the reader on a suspenseful ride that bracingly confronts the financial and political moment of recent years. In its starred review, Publishers Weekly wrote, “Lefferts’s nimble sense of scale enables him to convincingly depict the blue-chip firms who rejected Alistair and exploit the housing market, then zoom in for poignant and subtle psychological realism. The results are electrifying.” Lefferts spoke with us about finding his narrative voice, being drawn to characters experiencing alienation, and the novel’s surprising fusion of influences.