Monday, December 20, 2010

Mondays With Mike: Lee McQueen and a renewable energy suspense novel

ONE OF THE nice things about being a member of a local writers’ group is that you get to meet a bunch of folks who write outside of your genre. Lee McQueen is a member of my Beaverdale Books group that is hosted by Jerry Hooten (see my interview with Jerry, September 27). Lee is an Iowa native whose writing roots stretch deep into the world of books including libraries, bookstores, and publishing houses. Writing influences include Octavia Butler, Stephen King, Alice Hoffman, H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis, Jules Verne, and Edgar Allan Poe among many others. She has a masters’ degree in Library Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo and a degree in Spanish from Xavier University, Louisiana.

Mike: Welcome Lee, and thank you for taking time to be with us today. I’d like to ask first about your latest book, Celara Sun.

Lee: Celara Sun is a renewable energy suspense novel that details the hidden battle for control of solar and wind energy in North America. In 1999, I located websites that revealed the personal journeys of people who lived entirely off-the-grid and the steps they took—legal and extralegal—to get to that place. It made me wonder what would happen when more people became aware of the possibilities on an industrial scale.

That wonder led to a short story I wrote called “Children of the Golden Ra” (Imaginarium, McQueen Press, 2006). The short story led to a full-length novel—Celara Sun. I wanted to make solar and wind energy as sexy and exciting as oil, gas, and nuclear energy. Celara Sun reflects a point in time in North America—how we interact with our families, our workplaces, and with society. I wanted to recognize this time and explore it.

But I also wrote Celara Sun because I couldn’t not write it. When it comes to fiction, entire scenes, action sequences, and dialogue exchanges push until I commit them into a plot. A painter paints. A singer sings. A writer writes. I wrote.

Most of the action develops from conflict between two characters—Martina Butler, a researcher and Alexander King, the visionary who hires her. The characters in the book experience intense emotions. Some of the characters react to those situations in negative ways. Others find a way to rise above—eventually. But these are the people who occupy that world. The first chapter warns the reader of what to expect. There are no heroes or villains. There are only survivors.

M: Tell me about some of your other writings first, Imaginarium.

L:  Imaginarium is a short story collection.

M: Writer in the Library! is a collection of writers’ insights into the library's value to the writer. How did that come about?

L: Writer in the Library! is the most complex project I've completed to date. It took over a year to send the call for entries, do the research, plan the layout and graphics, and finish the editing, proofreading, and indexing while maintaining contact with the book's contributors.

However, it is also the most exciting work I've completed. I had the greatest experiences traveling to the East and West Coasts as well as Chicago to interview so many intelligent, well-read, and well-informed people. They are talented in so many ways and very forthcoming about how libraries have enhanced their writing abilities.

I learned so much from so many while writing this book. Likely writers and librarians at any stage of their careers will find many useful tips for ways to use libraries to enhance and elevate any writing project.

I'm very pleased that Writer in the Library! found its way into several public and  university library collections. For more follow this link.

M: Lee, how did you get started writing?

L: I started writing little doodles as a child. In college, my professors sensed that I had talent in that direction and encouraged me. So that was the point when I knew that writing would always be a major part of my life. But ten additional years passed before I considered myself a professional. I did work-for-hire, then I began to publish fiction.

M. Can you tell us a little about your writing habits? Do you write in the morning, evening, etc.

L: Lately, I write when I can. I have several projects that I handle at the same time. I have a weekly public affairs webcast called Blue.Green.Fusion  that focuses on blue collar jobs for a green economy. I interviewed Gunnar Olson of DART on public transportation. More recently, I interviewed Bill Stowe on public works and storm water management. Research for episodes like these keep me busy. I'm also editing the work of another writer. Plus, I'm working on the sequel to Celara Sun. I enjoy everything I do so I strive to find a workable balance.

M: What other upcoming projects are on the table?

L: I have three manuscripts lying dormant. I add to them from time to time when I take breaks from Celara Sun. I plan to wake up one of the manuscripts soon and incorporate the writing lessons I learned along the way. One of those manuscripts may become the sequel to Celara Sun. I enjoyed working with those characters, and I anticipate that the backdrop will switch from solar energy to wind energy.

M: Any other hobbes, interests, etc.?

L: Other than writing I enjoy reading. Other than that, I take opportunities to enjoy art, music, and film. Every creator needs an appreciator. I am a fan of the work of many people.

M: Where your books can be purchased.

L: Celara Sun, Writer in the Library!, Imaginarium, and Kenzi are all available at

M: Thanks, Lee. I’m posting links to where you can purchase your books:

No comments:

Post a Comment