The Perseid Collapse Kindle World Interview Series:
Tim Queeney—Renaissance man and thriller author
Tim Queeney is one of those rare authors I’ve met in person. Quite a few times, actually. We are members of the Pine Cone Writers Den, a diverse collection of hardworking, talented authors living in and around Portland, Maine. In this day an age of virtual friends, social media contacts and email buddies (all good), I can’t tell you how satisfying it feels to sit down with in front of live writers (Skype doesn’t count…though it’s a step in the right direction). Tim anchored the action/thriller contingent of the group, treating us to his Perry Helion Series, which he explains later.
Tim is an avid sailor, and coincidentally keeps his sailboat less than fifty yards from mine. I could easily swim to his boat from my mooring—if I didn’t mind the cold water. We didn’t figure this out about until a year ago. I’ve resisted the temptation to head out on Tim’s boat, because I heard a nasty rumor that he doesn’t like to rely on electronics for navigation. Old world brute. Tim explains his disdain for GPS and all things non-Christopher Columbus era in the interview.
Sit back and enjoy my talk with Portland’s renaissance man.
We might as well start with your stubborn refusal to accept the GPS gods above as the primary method of knowing “where the hell” you are. What is wrong with you? 😉
I’m actually the member of the world’s most obscure sect, the teachers of celestial navigation, you know, using a sextant to find your way. There are only two of us left, and the other guy lives in shack in Patagonia. I actually teach people how to navigate across oceans with just a sextant, a watch and a book of sight reduction tables. No electrons, no satellites, no app store — wild thought, huh? And it’s actually so easy to do. Gives you a great feeling of self-reliance — like the first time you changed a tire or unhooked a girl’s bra. A rush of satisfaction — “I can definitely do this!”
I’m not sure how unhooking a bra relates to self-reliance, but I’m sure many of my male readers are nodding their heads in agreement. Ladies, feel free to chime in with the female equivalent. Why do I have a bad feeling about the responses I’ll get.
Where were we? Yes, Celestial Navigation. I gave Tim some hassle about not trusting GPS, because I’m very familiar with the timeless navigation methods he teaches. Once upon a time, they taught this at the United States Naval Academy (ended in 1998), and I was subjected to an entire semester of Master and Commander-esque adventures with the sextant. Times lost.
As for Tim’s claim that it’s easy to do, well, I’ll chalk that up to “instructor enthusiasm and optimism.” One thing is for sure. In the event of an EMP, the sun, moon and starts will still be there (those lights never go out), so if I’m planning to escape the U.S. in a sailboat, Tim has earned a berth on my boat…as long as he comes with his own set of reduction tables (heavy books from what I remember).
Let’s talk about the novella you wrote for The Perseid Collapse Series Kindle World. How did you link your story to the original series?
While many of the Perseid Collapse Kindle Worlds (gonna go all acro here and shorten that to PCKW) are set in the U.S., my story, The Borealis Incident, takes place far away at Thule Air Force Base in Greenland. The connecting events to The Perseid Collapse series are the meteor strikes and the EMP. Even though the Chinese target mainland U.S. for major EMP effects, my story has the EMP energy concentrated by the magnetic lines of force at the Magnetic North Pole (only 500 miles west of Thule AFB) and so Thule is hit hard too.
Since we know Alex and Kate Fletcher & company never get to the Greenland in the series (howz about an extended road trip, Steve?), there aren’t any meetings between the original characters and the folks in The Borealis Incident. I thought about what the character tie-in could be and since the main character in my story is a woman, I decided to invoke “sister power” and so Lt. Colonel Dana Wright is Kate Fletcher’s older sister.
After the events of August 19, Dana is certainly concerned about Kate, but she also knows that Alex and Kate have been through the Jakarta episode and that Alex, in particular, is almost born to succeed in an environment where he must use his training, experience and smarts. As a woman who has risen to deputy commander of an Air Force base, Dana is no slouch herself and it would be interesting to bring the two of them together in a story. They’d both have strong ideas about how to proceed — sparks, baby!
Judging from what I’ve seen when my wife and sister-in-law are in charge of family get togethers, I don’t know if the post-event world in The Perseid Collapse series could survive! No doubt that Alex would have to take a back seat. Not a bad idea for a sequel to The Borealis Incident. I wonder who could write it? Hmmm.
This is a loaded question for you. I probably had your novella in mind when I wrote it. The Perseid Collapse can be classified under a number of sub-genres. Obviously, it falls under post-apocalyptic, but it also delves into the realms of technothriller, prepper fiction, military, dystopian and even horror. Which of these genres do you explore the most in your story? Hint…all of them.
Borealis is a fun house ride — plenty of thriller elements mixed with some other nastiness popping up. Whereas preppers in the U.S. have to deal with the collapse by themselves, the characters in Borealis are members of the military or ex-military contractors and have resources most people don’t have. Yet, as the saying goes, we’re always preparing to fight the last war, so when “the ejecta hits the air circulation device,” the result is not what anyone expects.
Without giving anything away, readers will not expect the devious twist you through at them with Camp Amorak. Shortly in the novel, readers will begin to suspect that the camp isn’t what it seems, but you have no idea. I’ll shut up.
Given that you’ve pretty much covered every genre possible in your story, let’s talk about themes. What major theme comes across the clearest in your story? Is this a theme found consistently in your other works?
Early in the story Dana thinks she really has a handle on the deputy commander job. Then a meteor strike and the EMP knock everything ass backwards and her eyes are opened, learning firsthand what has been going on right all around her.
My Perry Helion thrillers (The SHIVA Compression, The Atlas Fracture and soon to be released, The Ceres Plague) exhibit a similar sense that hidden priorities and dangerous groups lurk within structures we think we understand. Who can you trust? What is really happening and what does that mean for the future?
One iconic scene from the movie The Matrix said it well (and referenced the similar scene from Alice in Wonderland): “Do you want to swallow the red pill and see how deep the rabbit hole goes?”
Your main character is a woman? Dana? I was thinking Dana Carvey. I don’t know if I would have approved your novella if I knew Dana was female. How can this be a cool apocalyptic tale? For the record, I’m totally kidding…and looking over my shoulder for my wife, who could no doubt sense me typing that.
Dana is tough and smart, and though she starts the story a little naïve, she rolls with the punches and thinks well on her feet. She thinks the main challenge as deputy commander of Thule Air Base is to keep everything running smoothly as it has for decades. Then August 19th happens and she is forced to deal with events way outside her training, including rescuing her husband and daughter, who are nearby the base on an expedition to the ice cap. Dana has to make some tough decisions along the way.
As for pandas, they aren’t indigenous to the Arctic, but what if an air shipment of the critters crashed near Thule AFB and the ravenous fiends escaped and as they scampered toward the base… ah, never mind.
Like my wife, Dana is not to be messed with or underestimated on any level. I particularly like how she quickly hardens to the situation, giving no quarter when it comes to the people under her command or her family.
I know you wrote The Borealis Incident in record time. Do you care to explain why we don’t see at least two full size novels from you per year? Does this feel like an interrogation?
Without Russell Blake’s direct line to cartel warehouses, I had to sleep. So I didn’t get it done nearly as quickly. Was a fun effort, though. Glad to be a part of the PCKW launch.
I’m not sure what’s in those warehouses, but we could all use some of it. I know you busted your butt to meet the deadline, and sincerely appreciate that…readers will too.
You’ve written three books in the Perry Helion series (the third to be released soon). How are they similar to your novella?
Seems the main characters in thrillers are either hyper-capable and super intelligent or are just resilient men or women doing their best — like Alex Fletcher (although Alex is so well prepared and experienced, he sometimes fits into the hyper-capable category). The main character of my Perry Helion books falls onto the Alex side of the spectrum. Perry, an agent for DARPA is resourceful and savvy and does whatever he can to get the job done. In the upcoming The Ceres Plague, Perry turns a 95-ton Belaz 7555 mining truck into the world’s biggest lock pick to gain entry into a Russian mobster’s luxury compound.
Dana in The Borealis Incident is a lot like Perry. She has to decide on a course of action without a lot of information or time. She and Perry are both good at thinking on their feet. They’d make a pretty good team.
Lock pick is an interesting term for battering ram. A bank heist with you might not be a great idea…unless it’s Fort Knox.
Here’s the question readers are waiting for. Are you a prepper or homesteader?
Not a prepper, as such, but I respect the desire to be prepared and self-reliant. That’s a great way to be. I’ve always thought I could peddle my knowledge of celestial navigation to folks after the apocalypse. You know, how to get around using sun and the stars in exchange for a side of beef? Hmmm, yeah, maybe I should start buying survival gear.
I’m trying to picture you carting around your sight publications, sextant case, recording logs and reams of paper through the post-apocalyptic streets of Portland. Might be easier to spend an afternoon at Cabelas with a credit card.
What do you see as the most likely threat to modern living in our lifetime? In other words, what might cause TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)?
Nuclear war remains the biggest threat. And not even a general thermonuclear exchange between Russia and the U.S. or China and the U.S. Some studies have predicted that even a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan could cause sufficient burning to throw vast amounts of smoke and soot into the atmosphere. The result could be “a death shroud” of nuclear winter that would end all food production for years. Any larger exchange of nukes between the major nuclear powers would be a foregone conclusion to produce a nuclear winter. So, although all the fear of nukes may have been pushed aside by zombie and plague phobia, they are still the most potent danger on the planet. You can read how Perry Helion keeps the world safe from a U.S./Russia nuclear war in my book The SHIVA Compression.
Some type of killer pathogen would also have to be considered a huge threat. Although the human immune system has been kicking ass and taking names for millennia, there’s always the possibility it’ll run up against a bug more badass than any it has encountered before. If our immune systems screw the pooch then we’re probably in big trouble, too, right? What about an organism brought up from a subglacial Antarctic lake that has had a million years to mutate? That’s a chilling element to my Perry Helion thriller The Atlas Fracture. How the hell does Perry deal with that one?
Perry Helion shout-out! This is a scary thought. Whether it’s a virus buried in the ice for thousands of years, or released from a meteorite (ala The Andromeda Strain), the concept of a virus novel to our immune system makes for great nightmares.
What’s next? I assume another Perry Helion story?
Yes. Working on the next book in my Perry Helion series, The Proteus Evasion. Perry gets himself in another bind. Hope he knows how to get out of it because I sure don’t!
That’s kind of how it works for us, isn’t it? The plot kind of works itself out.
Check out Tim’s website HERE. You’ll find an eclectic range of fascinating articles, along with more information about his work. And don’t forget to grab a copy of The Borealis Incident. It’s a great addition to the Perseid Collapse World.