Interview with Sean Q Lee

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My kids, my wife, my bike. Everyday is an adventure. There is so much to see and do and experience. Whether it be exploring the bush with my children, eating lunch at a cafe with my wife, or riding my bike around the countryside, I don't want to miss a second of it.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Cycling is my passion away from writing. Now that my knees and ankles, so cruelly treated during my younger years playing Australian rules football, have given up the ghost, cycling remains the one sport which doesn't leave me crippled afterwards while still giving me a great work out. Nothing beats zooming around the quiet country roads on my road bike. The feel of the wind on my face and the sight of beautiful surrounds blurring by is great, but for me it is all about the speed. I love knowing that I am going fast and I get some sort of masochistic pleasure out of destroying myself by trying to beat my best times.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
My early attempts revolved around Australian football. In year 11 English I once wrote a fictional piece about a young boy who, after looking at the old team photographs hanging on the wall at a football club, goes out onto the ground and dreams them to life. I'm hoping to include it in a compilation of some of my stories and poems that may or may not be published anytime soon!
What is your writing process?
My ideas take a while to gel. The stories usually start with a single thought that bounces around in my head for days, sometimes weeks, even years, until it takes a more complete shape and I get some idea of where it might lead. Only then can I sit down and begin the writing process, and even after all that time, the story usually goes off in unexpected directions. I never really know exactly what I'm going to end up with and I find that quite exciting.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I remember my teachers reading books to us such as Patricia Wrightson's The Nargun and the Stars and Ivan Southall's Hills End, both of which I loved and reread myself soon after. They really sparked the imagination. Early on I read a lot of Dad's war books, usually to do with the airforce, such as Paul Brickhill's The Dam Busters and Reach for the Stars. Enjoyed the Biggles books as a kid as well. Later on I branched out into science fiction for awhile, before discovering Australian classics like Eleanor Dark's A Timeless Land and Xavier Herbert's epic Poor Fellow My Country.
How do you approach cover design?
With great apprehension!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Tough question. One of my all time favourites is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I first read it as a part of our English curriculum in either year 11 or 12, and I have read it several times since. I've read F. Scott Fitzgerald's other books, but none of them came close to capturing me like Gatsby did. I was excited about the latest movie version but thought that it felt short of the mark.

The scope of Xavier Herbert's epic Poor Fellow My Country is just amazing. It takes so long to read you feel like you know the characters personally and when they die you almost grieve for them. It is all consuming and when you finally finish it leaves you with a kind of hole in your life, such was the commitment it took to read the thing in the first place.

I like well written sports biographies and among my favourites are Andre Agassi's offering 'Open' and Duncan Hamilton's chronical of Harold Larwood's life. The later was especially fascinating as it provided an account of the infamous Bodyline cricket series from an English perspective which is not something we often get to see here in Australia.

Lately I've also enjoyed the writing of Australian actor turned author William McInnes.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind Harry's War is quite simple. My sons, like most boys, are interested in soldiers and the like, and they were quite curious about the meaning of ANZAC day here in Australia. I tried to explain what it was all about and then visited the library to try and find some books on the subject that I thought may capture their imaginations. In the end I gave up trying to find something appropriate and decided to have a go at writing my own version of the events that shaped the Gallipoli campaign of World War I.

I think I have come up with a very readable, informative and yet entertaining story that explains how the ANZAC legend was shaped by the Gallipoli landing and the hopeless battle that followed.
When did you first start writing?
I've always enjoyed writing stories and I remember writing some half decent ones during my later years in secondary school. I could always write descriptively and I guess that stems from being a quieter type of person who often just sits back and observes what goes on around me.

Over the years I've dabbled with the idea of having my work published, and to a certain degree I've been happy with my achievements so far. I now have weekly columns on The Roar website - http://www.theroar.com.au/author/sean-lee/ - and have had work appear in newspapers and anthologies.

Ultimately I would like to make writing my primary career, but there is a long way to go before that happens, and let's face it, it may never happen. But in the mean time I'll just keep plugging away and who knows what might happen?

Regardless, I'll keep writing for as long as I enjoy doing so.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I am writing fiction I love creating characters and situations. I may start with an idea but what eventually ends up on paper may be completely different to how I imagined it turning out. The tangents that sprout from that initial idea are often totally unexpected and can be quite exciting, however reining things back in and finally completing a piece is the real challenge.

With non-fiction I love fleshing out the detail of each piece, trying to ensure that what I write is as entertaining as it is informative. Capturing the human component of an event or incident is important and allows readers to identify more with what they are reading. I like the narrative to flow and not get bogged down in boring facts and figures. Non-fiction needs to be just as engaging as fiction and there is no reason why it can't be.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on a full length novel which I hope will be finished by the end of this year (2014), but it goes in fits and starts and will probably take much longer than that.

It is set against the backdrop of the Australian Outback and is based around a young man's journey of discover (there's a skeleton in the closet that upon discovery changes the way he thinks about himself). There is plenty of action and adventure but essentially it is a story of love and loyalty.

The story is well underway and I'm enjoying the process of writing it immensely.
Published 2014-02-18.
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Books by This Author

Harry's War
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 10,410. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Historical, Fiction » Historical » Australia & New Zealand
(5.00)
The idyllic life of an Australian country boy is turned upside down when his country decides to fight alongside Great Britain in World War One. From promising school boy to Gallipoli veteran, this is the heart wrenching story of Harry's war.