Get to know… Jeff Probst

I’m American and have lived in London since 1990 with my South African wife. In September 2022 I published my second novel, When the Moon was White. I published my first, Bachelor Butterflies, in 1994. Over the years, I’ve had stories, poems, essays and articles published in the UK, South Africa and America.

I discovered the Writing Room when I was looking for an agent and the Room was hosting a small-group, agent-led seminar. It was excellent. My search for an agent turned out to be unsuccessful, but I have returned to the Writing Room for both a masterclass on ‘place’ and a seminar on marketing. I have also been most fortunate to have had a consultancy over a period of weeks with Writing Room tutor Kate Pemberton. I was in the final stages of my novel, and Kate gave me invaluable advice and, perhaps most crucially, encouragement.

The following extract from my novel, When the Moon was White, takes place about 2/3 of the way through the book, which is set in July 1967 in Goodmews, a fictional American town known for its bright moon. The extract concerns Banno, who has been in Goodmews for a year:

Extract from When the Moon was White

When he got outside the revolving doors, Banno set off on a post-work walk, crossing Copernicus Broadway into the quiet streets – the UNADOPTED streets, said the sign – where the pavements seemed to be a second thought, each one soon petering out into a mown green verge.

     It was the end of one of those perfect Goodmews summer days of blue sky and mild breeze – a beautiful afternoon, beautiful neighbourhood, beautiful people. Banno scanned the sky and found the moon, just beginning its journey westwards, a waxing afternoon moon, as he’d learned. It’s how it should look. A half moon, mottled, with a bit of pink.    

     Lately Goodmews had begun to feel less foreign to him. People-watching had become more interesting as the people became more familiar. Banno still enjoyed the purposeless pleasantness of passing strangers, but he mostly knew now where he was going.

     ‘Woke up this morning, feeling fine…’ he sang in his head. He knew the words; and though he knew he wouldn’t get the tune right, the Hermits buoyed him to lightly traipse. He floated his arms over a stair rail, then when no one seemed to be watching he tried a couple of Gene Kelly leaping heel clicks.

     He took out his radio, untwisted the cord and stuck the earpiece in his ear.

     The transistor made walking life worthwhile. Even though the music that came out of it was tinny and in mono, the songs were the same, and in ways enhanced: with the sound in his ear, beginnings and endings were clear.

     He found Goodmews Radio. He’d heard that it played people’s suggested compilations, without ads, from 5 to 6. The Tin Woodman’s ‘If I Only Had a Heart’ came on, lifting Banno into longer strides but at a more relaxed pace, more suitable for after work than a fast song like ‘Rebel Rouser’ or something thumping that made him want to only walk soldierly. Even worse was a song that made him plod along, like the Temptations ‘My Girl’, whose lead-in always sounded to him like ‘In backpack, in backpack, in backpack’.

     What any music in his ear did, though, was lend even the most familiar houses or sights a new lease of life, so when he passed them he could view them from his world inside a soundtrack, almost as if he was invisible. He didn’t know why, but this separation by sound made him feel the opposite: he felt more connected to the world. It was a less threatening place. He was unafraid of eye contact. Nodding along to songs, he could feel that he had that pursed-lip eye-squint look on his face, like he’d seen on other music-nodders, and it didn’t matter if people stared back at him, even beggars. They weren’t going to bother him; he was sorted, protected.

My website is

EDITOR’S NOTE: do have a look at this excellent novel with a view to buying a copy. Writing Room recommends it! Order your copy of When the Moon was White here.