Funnier Than Fiction
Local author turns his dating misadventures into a novel
By Jessica Laskey
When I ask Jeff Gephart what made him move from Maryland to Sacramento, he chuckles and says, “I like to tell people I killed a guy.”
Gephart has a wicked sense of humor (he used to perform in a weekly sketch-comedy TV show), and he knows how to spin a yarn. The Pittsburgh transplant is a prolific writer of poetry, short fiction, screenplays and novels. His third book, “Accidental Adulthood: One Man’s Adventures With Dating and Other Friggin’ Nonsense,” was published last year. And no, it’s not quite an autobiography.
“Every piece of fiction is invented from something real,” says Gephart, who lives in West Sacramento with his girlfriend. “While writing my previous book, ‘Out of Dark Places,’ I had been single for a long time, so I tried out internet dating. Insane stuff would happen on these dates, and I’d tell friends these
stories. They’d be dying laughing and kept saying, ‘You have to make a book out this!’ I’m usually a serious writer, but I thought maybe it would be entertaining for people.” Gephart’s gut was right. After he sent his “Accidental Adulthood” manuscript to All Things That Matter Press (the online publisher that handled “Out of Dark Places”), they agreed to publish it. Since the book came out in 2017, the author has received kudos from friends and fans alike.
“A total stranger contacted me after buying the book to tell me it was one of the best books he’d ever read,” says Gephart. “That’s the whole point of writing for me. To be able to reach out and connect with people is a very special feeling.”
Gephart doesn’t just do that with his writing—he does it in the classroom as well, as a longtime elementary school teacher. While Gephart was working as a graphic designer after college, his teacher roommate asked him to volunteer in his classroom.
“I just really got a feeling for it,” he says. “I love teaching writing to the youngsters. It’s so gratifying when kids who come in feeling ‘meh’ about writing at the beginning of the year say they want to be writers by the end of the school year. It’s wonderful to share my love of writing.”
Gephart has always been something of a Renaissance man when it comes to creative endeavors. He acted in independent films and worked on a comedy show on public-access TV in Baltimore after meeting up with a group with aspiring filmmakers.
“It’s the most fun hobby I’ve ever had,” Gephart says.
But his first love remains writing. Although Gephart insists that “Accidental Adulthood” is not an autobiography, he does admit that there are threads of his own truth woven in. The protagonist is a young man in his early 30s trying to find what completes him. He feels like his friends have things figured out, but he’s still an aspiring writer stuck running a motel on 16th Street. It’s a classic coming-of-age story with a twist.
“Thirty seems like it’s a little too late to be growing up,” Gephart says. “But the character is finally ready.”
This is also the first novel that Gephart set locally.
“The settings for my first two books were fictional places,” Gephart says. “But I think it’s easier to get richer in detail if you set it in a place you’ve been. I loved reading Tom Clancy novels when I lived near Washington, D.C. When he’d write about Annapolis, I’d be able to say, ‘Hey! I know that place!’ I think people in this town will get a kick out of seeing places they know in a novel.”
“Accidental Adulthood: One Man’s Adventures With Dating and Other Friggin’ Nonsense” is available on amazon.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org