When did you know you wanted to pursue writing seriously?
After reading Chapterhouse Dune for about the fifth time I knew I wanted to be an author. The way Herbert spun words into worlds and spun worlds into a tapestry of intrigue and challenge got my mind spinning, although I didn’t start seriously writing until less than a year ago.
What project(s) are you working on now?
I have an auto-biography tentatively titled Halflife, and what is turning out to be a novella, This thing I became after, a drama about a man and his struggles upon finding that he has a very short time to live…
What factors most influence your writing, and do they change over time?
You know I have seen that question posed to other authors over the years, and in my mind I played out what I would say, never actually thinking that I would really get that opportunity. For now my writing is strongly influenced by my adventures into adulthood. I sure hope that changes over time, grows broader.
Trust a romance writer to ask this in such a way…Both I would say. Ten of the last eighteen years I didn’t live in one place for more than six months.
You write a wide variance of emotion into your pieces. As a romance writer I appreciate this skill, for evoking an emotional response from readers is my goal. Does this come naturally to you, or is it something you have to work at?
When I read, after the first line or two the words disappear and I see the story play out in my mind…the same is true with my writing. I am feeling all those emotions while I write. Sometimes that is a hard thing; let’s say I am writing a sad scene, or an angry one, I am being brutalized by those words while they are coming out. On the flip side of that coin I get to laugh while writing the fun ones or have the full body giddy down to the toes flush from the sexy ones.
I would have to say I have all of those tendencies at times but for the most part I am a lion/golden retriever and an extrovert.
Success...What does it look like to you?
Food in the cupboard, gas in the car, a good book to read, and a life being well lived. Those may not sound like big things to some, but coming from where I have come from they are huge. If those happen I will be content, although I wouldn’t turn down a good book deal and a new car!
Tell us something you've always wanted to do but haven't had the opportunity.
I want to go opal mining in Australia, zip line in the rain forests of Brazil, surf in South Africa, and go cliff diving in Mexico.
Nadja, here are pieces of mine - pick which you would like to use. And I want to say thank you for this!
The energy of the universe
© Christopher McQueeney
I’m not sure what year it was that this happened, but happen it did.
Walking out of the local Albertsons a couple months ago a man asked me for thirty three cents. His clothes were filthy and stank slightly. His hair was hand combed and dirty. My first reaction was a slight sense of revulsion; I say slight and I mean that. I’ll explain, and with a hope this never has to happen to me again, at several points in time in my life I have been homeless. So when I say I was slightly revolted it was because of where I have been; not because the state he was in. To be asking for that specific amount of money meant only one thing. He needed a drink.
I was about to tell him that there was a better way to live when I recognized him. We used to party together. Now don’t get me wrong he wasn’t a close friend of mine, more like a friend of a friend. But I think I drank and did drugs with him a couple dozen times. I remember thinking that dude can put the drink and drugs away just like me. And like me he would burn hot than disappear for a while…normal behavior for people like us (the kind of person I used to be).
I have to tell you something about him, and this was the only reason I gave him the thirty three cents, also the reason I didn’t try to talk to him. He wouldn’t remember me, probably barely remembered his own name. About fourteen years ago some extremely strong drugs hit the streets, first meth, and then LSD. Being in the same circles we had access to the same supplier. Almost like mirrors we both got spun out, for about a month, and then the LSD showed up.
This shit was strong, the body high was amazing, and the visuals were fucking unbelievable. After about a week solid of tripping I was still in pretty good shape. Ok I got to say that I thought I was doing pretty well; I weighed about one hundred and fifty pounds, and at six foot four I looked like the walking dead. So thinking I was the fucking LSD master with a mind like a steel trap I decided to take about four times what I had been taking, and to wait about a half hour and take as much again. That is the problem with drug addicts, insane shit makes perfect sense.
So I drop all of this acid and proceed about my day, and I remember almost none of it except for the culmination. My memory kicks in I was sitting in a Lazy boy chair talking with a couple of friends, Will and Ben. Will was tweaking (on a large amount of meth) and Ben was tripping balls on shrooms. We were in the middle of a conversation about the different levels of consciousness brought about by different kinds of drugs. It is amazing looking back how deep some of the conversations on drugs are capable of being. Now I could go into the spiritual or metaphysical aspects of this but I won’t. One minute I am hip deep in intellect and the next I wasn’t even able to form a coherent thought! I could see the energy that was flowing between everything, in colorful particle streams…and I could feel the colors!
Even trying as hard as I can I can’t remember much more about that night, or much over the next three weeks. One thing I do remember was sitting on my front step and watching the grass grow and the street lamps drip light. This may sound strange but I think that the only thing that brought me back from the brink of permanent insanity was telling myself almost constantly that IT’S ONLY THE DRUGS! Will came over every day to check on me. “Dude, are you still tripping man” he would ask, and I would say yes “but it’s only the drugs”. Than he would ask if I had taken anything else and I would say no, and we would smoke some pot and he would leave. He wanted to know if I was still taking more LSD. I wasn’t, it just wouldn’t wear off!!
Of course eventually it wore off or I would be a drooling idiot with filthy hair, and dirty clothes, sitting outside of the local Albertsons begging for thirty three cents for just one more beer. That would be all I was capable of. Yeah I knew that man, I gave him the money, and I didn’t try to talk to him. I was lucky enough to come back, he wasn’t. Fourteen years later and he is still out there on the edge of reality where you can see the powers of the universe flow…a place where the human mind is too small to handle safely.
Chris McQueeney 1/18/12 12:39 PM
Just a little bit further
© Christopher McQueeney
“Just a little bit farther,” she said to me “it’s just ahead.”
We had been walking for about fifteen minutes. I had no problem with that, but she seemed to feel the need to reassure me. It was cute in a way, but completely unnecessary. The truck was about a mile and a half back, parked at the edge of the Thompson’s field.
This has always been one of my favorite areas to explore, and she knew it. I love the way the fields and the woods interact. The small fuzzy margins where it isn’t field and not quite woods just felt right to me.
I hadn’t seen Kristi for months. Then she shows up on my step this morning looking nervous, excited, and very beautiful. “Hi Cal, I know it’s early, and we haven’t talked in months, but I need some help and you are the only person I can trust” I have always had a soft spot for a damsel in distress, and it didn’t hurt that she was just about a ten in my book, petite, slim, blond pixy cut hair, and a face that was angular without being severe. And her voice, sexy and sweet at the same time…God she does it for me!
Before she started talking I knew I would do whatever she asked of me, I always had. And I don’t regret it! I have had people ask me before why I let her do what she does to me, and my answer has always been “it was worth it”.
“I’ve missed you, and I…” she starts to say then stops herself abruptly. “There isn’t much time, will you help me?” she asks after a heavy pause.
“Of course, I’ll help you Kristi. You know that I will always be here for you”
“I found something at the Johnson’s place that I need to show you”
“Ok, let’s go. What did you find?” I shot over my shoulder as I went to the kitchen to get the keys to the truck.
“You will have to trust me; I don’t have the words to describe it.” As I came back into the room she smiled nervously and continued, “You’ll see when we get there”. With that she put her arms around me and laid her head on my chest. “I knew I could count on you Cal, only you.”
Those words felt so good. I had been waiting months for them. She broke the embrace and walked to the truck and got in. That was how things went with us, always straight to it.
“Just ahead” she says her voice strained as she climbs over a fallen tree. “Do you see how it looks like the trees form a cave?” just ahead it did look sort of like a wooded cave, the trees and grass formed a cavity about ten feet across that narrowed the further back it went.
“Yeah I see”
“That is where it is, towards the back. Go see and tell me what you think” she sounded very excited, but her face looked worried.
So I walked forward, down the small incline. At first the branches were well above my head but about twenty feet into the trees they started to get uncomfortably close. A few feet further the strangest feeling overcame me. It felt like I was walking through vertigo filled glue. I tried to turn around and cry for help when the world fell out from beneath me.
The last thing I remember is seeing Kristi through the field grass that was somehow growing up around my head. She was smiling, and it was the coldest thing I have ever seen.
“I knew I could count on you Cal, she said as the world went dark, “I knew”….
Chris McQueeney 3/11/12 9:07 PM
The above story is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people or places is purely coincidental.
Wander Without Being Lost