Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Peter T. McQueeny, Author

Peter T. McQueeny, Author
Peter T. McQueeny has always enjoyed science fiction, and credits a science-centric upbringing and Isaac Asimov with creating that love. So it follows that he would write science fiction. His book of three SciFi stories, titled 3 FUTURES, is “the thinking person’s SciFi,” that “leaves the reader’s mind to run openly through the possibilities of life in the distant future while playing back to the essential qualities of an actual plot running parallel,” according to reviewers. McQueeny says his “only real motive… was to entertain.”

McQueeny plans to continue all three stories in 3 FUTURES and is also working on other writings, which he hopes to publish soon. He lives in Arkansas with his wife, two dogs, and cat. He says he and his wife are foodies and love to cook, and he is a fan of tobacco pipes and heavy metal concerts.

Q: Why did you choose to write science fiction? What is there about building “entire universes” that entices you?

Peter T. McQueeny: I've always been attracted to SciFi.  My dad was a mechanical engineer, which falls under the umbrella of "science", and growing up, science was a big part of my life.  We spent a lot of evenings sitting on the back porch while dad smoked cigars, and we would have "science talk" where my brothers and I would ask questions we were curious about, and try to stump my dad.  During those years, my family went on two or three road trips a year, and we would always listen to audiobooks.  One year, we happened to pick up Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov, and over the course of the next few trips, we listened through the entire Foundation series.  It sparked an interest in me that hasn't diminished in the intervening years.  It was like I found a way to take the science questions that I wondered about, invent new answers, and play with the results.

Q:  3 FUTURES is a collection of three stories – three “new and original” worlds. My SciFi author friends say it is difficult to build unique worlds. Yet you chose to create three. What’s involved in creating a new universe and setting a story in it? Is it easier or more difficult than setting a plot in an already-existing place?

 Peter T. McQueeny: I'd say it's definitely more difficult to create new worlds than to use existing ones.  In a story, you don't always know what granular details are going to wind up being important, but in contemporary settings, you can always draw on your own knowledge of the existing world.  In SciFi, you have to spend that time building a database of little details that you can draw upon as needed.  I think of worldbuilding like stocking a pantry.  You don't need to put the entire pantry in any one dish.  I'm lucky—to me, worldbuilding is the most fun part of writing, so I walked into this project with a well stocked pantry.  The truth is, these stories are part of a grander design that I've been working on for the past five years.  There's a lot more to come, so stay tuned!

Q: Do you agree with reviewers who claim, “Technically, it’s Science Fiction, but really it’s so much more”?  This is “The Thinking Person’s SciFi.” Why? Were you trying to deliver a message? Educate?

Peter T. McQueeny: My only real motive with these stories was to entertain, but as a Philosophy major, "thoughtful" stuff is more entertaining to me.  I'm definitely not trying to preach any sort of message, but I do enjoy playing around with grand concepts, and stirring up people's minds.  I may not be trying to communicate my own ideals, but I try to craft characters with firm ideals, so I'm not surprised if it comes across that way.

Q: What makes readers believe in your worlds enough to become involved in them? How do you create credibility or is believability not important?

Peter T. McQueeny: It's all about character.  If you can create a believable character, readers will accept whatever happens to them.  I think Hidden Deeds and Upon the Summit definitely center on strong characters (whom I plan on developing a lot more in future books), but Walker, The Prophet is part of a much more nebulous and experimental project.  I was surprised that a lot of people I talked to latched onto that story as their favorite.  To me, it's just a vignette, but I think people found it convincing because the world its set in—a post-apocalyptic wasteland—is one we can all envision.  On the one hand, it's kinda unfortunate that it's so easy for people to envision the human race destroying itself, but on the other hand, Walker is a story about people coming back from that destruction. It's the bare beginnings of us rebuilding after a cataclysm, and I think that's an emotional space that many people are familiar with.  So believability has nothing to do with gadgets and "hard" SciFi, it all comes down to emotion.

Q: What influenced your stories in 3 FUTURES? Upbringing? Education? Family?

Peter T. McQueeny: As I said before, upbringing, family, and education were all part of it.  I was brought up in a family to whom science and religion were equally important, so both of those influences pop up in my writing.  But If I were to point to any specific thing that influenced these three, I'd have to give all the credit to Isaac Asimov.  His writing is such a huge influence on me; the way he worked deep themes in without getting preachy, the way he built immense, fantastic worlds and populated them with relatable characters... Asimov has blown my mind so many times.  Everything I write is just an attempt to return the favor.

Q: How relevant are your characters to telling your story? What makes your readers embrace them and care what happens to them?

Peter T. McQueeny: I'd like to think that my stories hinge completely on character.  I try really hard to keep the description and exposition to a minimum, because usually that's where SciFi authors get into trouble.  They're always willing to stop the story dead in its tracks to deliver a lecture, and I try really hard not to do that. 

Whenever I create a character, my hope is that people will care about them because the characters care about important things.  I'm a guy who lives in terms of concepts and ideas, so I create characters who are defined by concepts and ideas. I hope that readers can see my characters taking up the banners of these competing ideas and fighting for them.  That's what makes me care about characters, so it's natural that I ask the same of my readers.

Q: How helpful is the concept of “villains versus heroes” to your stories, or to science fiction in general?

Peter T. McQueeny: I believe that everybody loves an old-fashioned "Good vs. Evil" story, whether they admit it or not.  But I also really love stories that hinge on two competing goals that are both "good" from a certain point of view.  In my work overall, I'd say it's about half and half.  Jim Frankenstein's adventures will pretty much always feature a clear-cut bad guy.  He's an adventure hero, and I like him that way.  But other stories I write are more "realistic" in the sense that everyone is the good guy in their own story.  As a writer, I think it's important to do it both ways, because "Good vs. Good" stories are realistic, but "Good vs. Evil" stories are just plain fun to read.

Q: You are a writer.  “The Seraphim Universe” screams that it is so. What’s your favorite type of writing? Fiction? Blogging? All of it? Why did you choose to write? Besides science fiction what are some of your favorite topics?

Peter T. McQueeny: God, if it can be done with words, I've probably at least tried.  There have been moments when I've loved all kinds of writing.  I did a lot of cookbooks early in my career, as freelance work, and I really loved that for a while.  I do like blogging too, because I feel like there's a more conversational element to it.  But honestly, the thing I keep coming back to is fiction.  SciFi is the most natural for me because it fits in with my mindset.  But what really keeps me doing it is learning about story structure and all the underlying principles of fiction writing.  Every time I read a book about writing, I feel like Peter Parker on the day he discovered that he can climb walls.  I'm just itching to try it out.

As far as why I chose to write, the simple answer is that I was just never good at anything else.  I believe that an intelligent person can learn anything they want to, and I like to think of myself as intelligent.  But with other trades, I always had to work really hard to force the knowledge in.  Writing is completely transparent to me.  Any time I read some fact or bit of knowledge regarding writing, I understand it immediately and remember it forever.  To me, that's how you know what you were "meant" to do.  I'm just following the path of least resistance.

Q: What’s next? Will you be publishing an expanded version of any of these three stories in 3 FUTURES?

Peter T. McQueeny: I've got a lot on deck right now.  Too much, really.  I'm working as an editor with Catharsis, who is about to put out a new book by a great author named Tom Treweek.  I don't want to give away much more, but I'm really looking forward to that project.  As far as my own stuff goes, I plan on continuing all three of the stories in 3 Futures.  I'm in the process of editing the first Jim Frankenstein novel, and I expect to be submitting to publishers by the end of summer (wish me luck!).  Walker, the Prophet is part of a collection of short stories that I've been working on for years, Tales of Unknown Earth.  I hope to eventually publish that with Catharsis, but it'll be a while before it sees the light of day.  Upon the Summit is also part of a larger story, but I have no immediate plans to continue that.  It just depends what takes flight first.  The next thing people can expect to see from me is two short stories.  One is called Deep, and it's currently making the rounds with publishers, so I hope you can find it online soon.  The other doesn't have a title yet, but it concerns the struggles of a farmer on a newly-founded world.  I hope to self-publish that one in the next 2-3 months.

Q: Tell us about Peter T. McQueeny. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Peter T. McQueeny: My wife and I are both big foodies, we enjoy cooking and entertaining.  We're also animal lovers, and we spend a lot of time with our two dogs and cat.  I'm a tobacco pipe enthusiast, and I enjoy collecting and smoking pipes.  I'm also a huge fan of heavy metal, and I try to get to concerts whenever I can.

About Peter T. McQueeny

Peter McQueeny grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, KS.  He studied Philosophy at the University of Kansas, and spent a decade bouncing from job to job in the restaurant & retail industries.  He met his wife Stephanie in 2008, and after a move to Los Angeles, decided to take up writing full time.  They now live in Arkansas with their dogs Tini and Smitty, and their cat Davy.  Peter enjoys cooking, pipe smoking, heavy metal, superhero movies, and beer pong.


3 FUTURES is the ideal introduction to the work of Peter T. McQueeny.  Featuring a conversational foreword from the author, this book is a perfect weekend read for the casual SciFi fan or the neophyte looking for an approachable starting point in this vast and popular genre.

The first story, Hidden Deeds is taken from the series Jim Frankenstein, Rock & Roll Space Priest, which chronicles the adventures of Father Jim Frankenstein.  In Hidden Deeds, Jim travels to Earth's Moon to investigate a possible case of demonic possession.  Instead, he finds government corruption, new enemies, and a monster he believed to exist only in fairy tales.

Walker, The Prophet is the overture to a forthcoming story-cycle entitled Tales of Unknown Earth, which details the trials and tribulations of those who survive Earth's final disaster.  Walker, The Prophet shows us a vignette of human society as it crawls out of the rubble of the past, and gives us insight into the stories that shape it.

Upon the Summit of the City is drawn from The Colonist Saga, a far-reaching group of stories concerning the fate of human civilization as it reaches outward into the galaxy.  In Upon the Summit of the City, we get our first look at Arkat Rowland Hawkes, a seemingly innocuous hypnophobe whose understanding of the universe is revolutionized by an encounter with a strange relic from the past.


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Twitter: @FrFrankenstein

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