An Interview With Author Sefton Eisenhart

by Nicholas Bernhard // // Broomfield, CO

© 2024 NJB

CC-BY-SA 4.0

Today, I am publishing The Chaos of Heat, a short story by Sefton Eisenhart. The Chaos of Heat is a crime story as unrelenting as the heat wave described in its vivid prose. It follows a man who, wracked by heroin addiction, finds himself at the front of a dangerous robbery spree. Will Vince survive long enough to get his next fix, or is he little more than shark bait, out of his depth?

A detail from Sefton Eisenhart’s painting Chaos of Heat, showing white shapes on a deep-red background. The author and title name are presented in large blue text in a sans-serif font, with ‘A Crime Story’ in a smaller font size near the bottom.

You can read the story at

The Chaos of Heat is Eisenhart’s first work on Nantucket E-Books. What follows is my interview with the author of this pulse-pounding new story:

NICHOLAS BERNHARD When did you first become interested in writing?

SEFTON EISENHART I always had a habit for daydreaming. At some point I felt compelled to turn these daydreams into something tangible, to make something of the near-psychedelic inspiration that would come over me. Writing it down was just the easiest way to do it.

NJB What are some of your favorite books, and why are they your favorites?

SE Really great books are hard to come by, and for it to register as great the timing has to be right. It has to come into your life at a certain point to resonate in a way that creates an incredible experience. I try not to reread the books that moved me the most, because I can never to recapture the magic. The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow was probably the most impactful book.

NJB In your book, the target of the robberies is Tide detergent. Some of our readers may not know how or why Tide is a valuable black-market commodity. Would you explain the allure of Tide?

SE First off, everybody needs laundry detergent, so there are a ton of prospective buyers. Second, it has a virtually infinite shelf life, so it can be stored for as long as necessary before being sold. Thirdly, Tide is the premier detergent, and the bright red/orange branding makes for an eye-catching item that’s easy to sell.

NJB How do you like to write? If you write on a computer, what software do you use? Is there a preferred place you like to write, or certain times of day?

SE I like to write in the morning, which is when my brain is firing right. I use a conventional word processor, nothing fancy. I need it to be very quiet. I wish I was not so sensitive to noise, but I really need a sonic bubble anytime I have to concentrate. I like to write at a desk and for it to feel official, like a job. Journaling gives me a more casual way to write wherever, whenever, without much of a process.

NJB Do you read a lot of crime fiction, and if so, what authors are you reading?

SE I really don’t stay in any single genre, but I have read more than my fair share of crime fiction. I read the book Heat 2 by Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner, which is a prequel/sequel to what is, in my opinion, the best crime movie of all time. I just read Gone Girl for the first time this year and it pains me that I saw the movie years ago—I wish I could’ve experienced the twist without knowing ahead of time. I think that Carl Hiassen is the funniest author I’ve ever read and I always find myself laughing out loud while I’m reading. I also like the pulp kings like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, though I must admit I find those books to be a bit formulaic. That said, it’s a pretty great formula. While his books transcend any one genre, Cormac McCarthy is another incredible writer with such a fine-tuned style that you can’t help but find his books inspiring and his talent enviable.

NJB The descriptions of heat in this story are intense. Do you prefer a certain season or weather?

SE I am the kind of person that wants the weather to be perfect all the time based on my ever-changing preferences. That said, I want to be be able to ride a motorcycle comfortably.

NJB What author have you been most proud to meet personally, and what author would you like to meet, if you could?

SE I was in a class taught by Dr. Joan Mellon, who was an expert about the JFK assassination. I was honored to be in the room with her, honored to have her read my mediocre work, because her depth of knowledge on that event, which in my opinion was one of history’s greatest cultural turning points, was illuminating. And she was never too high and mighty to engage in debate. As far as an author I’d like to meet…I would love to meet Joan Didion, because she helped revolutionize non-fiction. The way she wrote about real events does a great job of giving reality its due.

NJB Do you workshop your writing? Do you have people who offer critiques and/or proofreading?

SE I ask everyone I know very sheepishly to read it. I hate proofreading, but it must be done. I usually miss a lot.

NJB An excerpt of Chaos of Heat was published in Pay Phone Calls, a small zine. Are you a zine reader/collector?

SE The publication of Zines is a dying art, as is the case with so much of the awesome analogue ways creative people honor what they love. I always read any self published magazines or comic books I come across. It brings me happiness to see people making those things because it is such an expression of passion. Marley Ward, who was kind enough to publish me in Pay Phone Calls, is an inspiration because he lives his art in a way that is true.

NJB The cover of Chaos of Heat shows a detail from one of your paintings. What’s the name of the painting?

SE It has no name, but I suppose I will call it Chaos of Heat. I will email the couple who owns it and let them know.

NJB How long have you been painting?

SE I had a wonderful art teacher in high school who encouraged me to paint and I have never stopped. It allows me to be improvisational, it allows me to make it up as I go, which can be refreshing in comparison to the relatively precise craft of writing. Painting can also be a very precise craft, just not when I’m doing it.

NJB Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?

SE I’m just going to keep writing.

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