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Penn State DuBois Student Publishes Novel

In the photo, Author Jeff Sexton presents a copy of Death and the Campus to Chancellor Anita McDonald.
2/9/2010 —

DuBois – A new mystery novel, now on store shelves, has come straight from the mind of a Penn State DuBois student.  Death and the Campus  (I.C.G. Books) is the work of DuBois native and returning adult student Jeff Sexton, who plans to graduate from Penn State DuBois with a degree in Letters, Arts, and Sciences in December.  The book centers on detective Jason Horde, who returns to his alma mater to investigate the death of his former professor. 


"This is a first person account of the case as told by Horde.  He's a merger of your Sherlock Holmes and your hard-boiled Sam Spade," Sexton explains.  "I wanted to create a character that was seedy but still likeable." 


Sexton says the book's setting is loosely inspired by Penn State DuBois, but he wants it to feel familiar to anyone, anywhere.  "I want people to be able to read this anywhere in the country and feel like this is happening just down the street," he says.  


Inspiration for the 35 year-old's first novel came from literature he has studied in writing courses in his curriculum, including original detective stories by Edgar Allan Poe.  Once immersed in a passion for these stories, Sexton says he wondered if he could create such stories himself.  He took a shot, and asked English Professor Richard Kopley to offer feedback.


"I started writing and gave it to Dr. Kopley to read," Sexton recalls.  He gave me very positive feedback, so it made me want to give him even more to read because I was getting such great feedback." 


That continued work, over a two year span, eventually turned into Death and the Campus.  It its finished form, Sexton's work continues to garner praise from his teacher.

"Jeff Sexton is a natural writer of detective fiction.  He has an ease and command of the genre," says Kopley. 


Chancellor Anita McDonald praised the accomplishments of this returning adult student and father of three, noting that he also started his own company, I.C.G. Books, which he used to publish his book while working with an independent printer.  "It is amazing all of the responsibilities that Jeff has juggled.  There are so many challenges for people to overcome today," says McDonald.  "Just getting an education while raising a family is quite an accomplishment, but to also write a book and start a company at the same time is very admirable."   


Sexton says he's not done yet. He plans to further his education by getting his master's in creative writing.  He also wants to extend the saga of his character, Jason Horde, in a series of sequels to Death and the Campus.  That's a future that his already emerging fan base looks forward to.


"I thoroughly enjoyed this first Jason Horde murder mystery and look forward to reading more of Mr. Horde’s further exploits," Kopley says.


Death and the Campus is available online through Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.  It is also in stock at the Penn State DuBois campus bookstore, which is a Barnes & Noble store.   


A book signing will be held at noon on February 15, in the Student Union at Penn State DuBois.

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