This NEW FRONTIER is a meditative, battle-hungry shark with a time machine and a TARDIS
Ahh, the week of love, culminating in a “holiday” that you either love or love to hate. Well, whether or not you have a significant other in your life for that crucial Feb 14 date, I’m sure we can all agree on one important, ever-lasting love: reading.
And what is it you love about this, our favorite pastime?
I find there is much to love. Reading is private while sharing in something bigger with your unseen co-adventures. It allows you to rest your body while busying your mind. It’s an activity you can pick up almost anywhere, and in some of the best places too (bed, bath, vacation). Reading can offer us a new sense of purpose. It can uncover layers we didn’t know we had, or it can make us understand a problem, a person, or a fact of life in a way we never had before.
A book allows its voluntary captive to travel to worlds unseen. Perhaps, those worlds are real physical places the reader craves, or perhaps they are special, imaginary places that our only accessible with a novel as your passport. Fantasy and science fiction fans, especially, know what I’m talking about. So, to celebrate this week of love with a very particular kind of love, I’d like to introduce you to an up-and-coming sci-fi author, Jeremy Lee. His novel, New Frontier, opens new worlds while helping us reimagine the one we’re already stuck with, and his interview was a fun one.
So check it out, find a new book to love.
Interview with Jeremy Lee
Let’s paint a picture of your novel. Please choose something from each of the following categories that best summarizes the book and explain why: color, animal, US city, car, and food. For example: my novel is most like the color green; I allow it to grow organically. My novel is most like sushi; it’s a bit exotic and not for everyone, but once you’re hooked, there’s no going back!
My novel New Frontier is most like the color red, jarring, focused, and kind of a love letter to the adventurous spirit which I think defines humanity.
The book is a lot like a shark, it never stops moving, it has a ravenous appetite, and has a surprising amount of diversity under the surface.
New Frontier is a novel much like Chicago, old world and new comingled, wild and unruly and proud of it, as defined by blue collar workers as white collar socialites, and filled with corruption that people kind of take for granted. Sorry ,Chicago. I do love your city–I meant all that in a good way.
In automotive terms, the book is a Jeep, not the fastest or the biggest, but capable of veering out in different directions and leaving the paved roads behind. What looks a touch clunky and uncomfortable on the highway is the perfect vehicle for getting to those out of the way places.
My novel is like a great gumbo, there’s a ton of ingredients, but it’s all about the way they mix together which makes the bowl enticing and delicious and leaves you leaning back in your chair trying to make room for another bite.
Here’s a clichéd question: You’re wandering out in the desert and trip over a hard object lodged in the sand. It’s a magic genie’s lamp—OMG! Which three things do you wish for and why? Any chance you’ll regret these choices later?
Wish for more wishes, and then when the genie tells me such a thing is impossible and if you keep trying to get smart I’ll start deducting wishes…
Health and opportunity for my kids, I don’t want to hand them anything, but man it would take a load off my mind if I knew they weren’t going to get sick and that they would have some opportunities to seize in their future, real chances to make their own dreams come true.
Time machine–seriously, who doesn’t want one?–dinosaurs, Alexander the Great, dinner with Socrates, walk the streets of Rome, witness Cicero’s speeches, attend Henry the V’s coronation, but not actually have to stay and live there.
Winning the Stanley Cup, I miraculously get drafted by my favorite team and prove to be the amazing hockey player I always dreamed of being and win Lord Stanley’s cup, cry like a baby as I lift it over my head…
Then, inevitably, as literature has shown us, all of these wishes blow up in my face and lead me down the path towards uncovering my tragic flaws and depending on if I’m in comedy or tragedy, change my ways just in time or too late.
If there was one fictional character (either from literature, television, or movies) whose life and personality most resembled your own, who would it be and why?
I think I am a lot like Ariantes from Gillian Bradshaw’s Island of Ghosts. For those who don’t know the story, it’s a tale of Sarmatian cavalry sent to serve in Britain after their loss to Marcus Aurelius’ Roman Legions. He views his unruly and wild past with a mixture of regret and yet there is still a touch of pride in what he did back then. He’s a warrior, but one happy to compromise, to evolve with his circumstances from soldier into diplomatist, and puts the people he commands and cares for always above himself. He’s also a man of curiosity and a desire to learn, and that carries him even further away from who he was as a young man, and that’s definitely something I’ve done, and continue to do on an almost daily basis. Turns out, I didn’t know that much about the world when I first stepped out into it, just like Ariantes standing at the channel convinced there can’t be an island on the other side of that water.
Now a different spin on the same question: If you could pick, which fictional character’s life would you most want to have and why?
Doctor Who!!!! The greatest hero of all time and space, and his super-power is his mind, the fact that he’s just the smartest man in the universe. He has a time machine/space ship, he gets to journey for hundreds of years, always learning and growing, and while yes there are hard consequences for that, he is the kind of person who focuses instead on the rewards, the adventure, forgiveness, and learning. Who doesn’t want to be a bit more like that? Probably my favorite show, and for good reason, you just want to jump in the TARDIS and go adventuring.
Would you rather your writing remain obscure forever all the while knowing you had talent and stayed true to your creative vision OR would you prefer to write a book that achieves great commercial success but that you just aren’t proud of? Why did you choose the answer you chose?
Commercial success, and why would I be willing to sacrifice my ethics and morals so casually? I have kids and pets, and they really like eating and having a place to live. I shudder when I think of what the eighteen-year-old me would say if he heard me answer that question today, but he had the luxury of being a starving artist with no consequences to anyone but himself. These days almost every book and story is a touch of compromise between what I would write in a vacuum (big sweeping paragraphs of flowery prose bordering on the poetic and intense emotional exploration) and what the market indicates readers are looking for (quick-moving plots and exciting twists) and I think I actually write better books because of the compromise. So far, every time I finish a book I’m excited and proud, until I finish the next one and look back, because then I can already see that the new one is even better, and as long as I feel that way I’ll keep writing, keep getting better, keep working at this elusive craft, because what’s amazing is that there is no perfection to be attained, but in trying to get there you get to explore the most amazing parts of life and imagination.
About the book: As a new era dons for humanity with all the attendant celebrations and riots, finally breaking the bonds which left us tied to the Solar System is reported as being the moment which unites all the disparate parts of the world and brings us into an era of peace and discovery, and yet this giant leap is almost instantly marred by greed erupting into violence. The Argos, the ship sent out on this historic mission, is left adrift and crippled far from home, survivors of this mysterious attack struggle to hold their ship together and come to the rescue of homesteaders and compatriots relying on them to not only survive but retaliate, and rescue a world where the Solar System has become a rugged frontier ripe for colonization and opportunity filled with the honest and ruthless carving out lives past the veil of civilization.
Several rival corporations, monopolies delving into every industry imaginable, have all but supplanted nation-states, keeping governments around only as a necessary fiction to pacify populations, and the realm of business now reaches into politics, military, religion, and all other aspects of human life. The frontier regions of space are a place filled with new homesteaders, miners, merchants, bandits, and scientific minds that is barely able to keep from slipping into total anarchy, a frontier region where people can disappear from their lives and head off into the unknown. New Frontier is an adventure which stretches from the furthest reaches of space, to slums in backwater cities, to the lunar capitol, and ultimately onto the wreckage of the great ship. The gallant and the selfish alike are forced to face the best and worst of human civilization far from home and decide what they truly believe in. Get New Frontier through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.
About the author: Born in Odessa, Texas Jeremy grew up mostly in southern New Mexico. Strongly influenced by his grandmother’s adoration of history, and his mother’s love of reading, both of which he adopted early in life. Inheriting a work ethic from his father which served him well in the manic world of theater, Jeremy Lee started out writing for the stage, first in Denver and then in small New York venues while attending the New York School for Film and Television.
With 2011’s Where I’m Bound I Can’t Tell he began working in novels with a deeply personal look at growing up without growing old, which simultaneously expanded into a worldwide adventure through the 20th century.
Kings of New York began a long and rewarding relationship with Neverland Publishing, which continues even today. This gangster tale played in the wonderland of 20’s New York, and painted a picture of cons just trying to survive and make a dishonest living the ruthless world they inhabit.
With New Frontier his career took an abrupt turn, looking not into the past but into the possibilities of the future. Exploring themes of strife, political corruption, greed, adventure, and religion, the book touched off a storm from reviewers.
Jeremy Lee currently lives in Denver with his family, writing ferociously when he can’t find and excuse to be in the middle of nowhere fishing, getting blissfully lost in a museum, or occasionally just watching old Bogart movies and eating pizza on the couch.