Farewell the Dragon - An Interview with Lee Barckmann
I grew up in Barnegat NJ, and had a Huck Finn childhood, surrounded by woods, streams, and meadows. In the 1950s, 1200 people lived there. I have two younger sisters, Laura and Liza, both now professionally accomplished, with kids and husbands. Our Dad, a merchant seaman for most of his life, had a small business raising lab mice for companies like Squibbs and Merck. He was an amazing story teller, a great little league coach, and a town character. Mom was from the mountain region of North Carolina. She graduated from college, was a teacher and taught us kids to read early.
Dad lost the business and returned to sea and we moved from Barnegat to a North Jersey suburb when I was 13. I ran track and cross country at Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale. In 1969, I attended the University of Kansas on a small track scholarship, where I studied and graduated with a double major BA in Economics and History (and also met Liz, my ex-wife and now friend.)
We moved from Kansas to Salt Lake City, then to Eugene Oregon, where Liz and separated and divorced. During that time, I worked as a laborer, a forklift driver, landscaper, and other jobs while I wrote quite a few short stories, a couple of plays, and began my first novel about college life, (from which I incorporated large chunks into my SwiftPad Trilogy). I taught myself land surveying and associated Civil Engineering, then worked in the field and in the office for Eugene Public Works.
I met Mary, and began to study Chinese at the University of Oregon, and then was invited by my language instructor and friend Qi Xinghua to teach English in Xian China. After six months, Mary joined me. In 1986, we moved to Beijing where Mary studied Chinese and worked at the US Embassy's school and I taught at the Foreign Language Institute. Two years later, we returned to the US, broke, with son Zach on the way. I got a job in a Florida strip mall computer store. On the job, and with self-study, I learned computer hardware, software, networking, IT security, ‘hacking’, and other associated technologies.
I changed jobs every few years, and wrote intermittently, mostly on my China novel “Farewell the Dragon”. Thirty years later I retired from IBM, and wrote “The SwiftPad Trilogy.”
For more information on Lee Barckmann and his work, visit www.barckwords.com.
TOPICS OF CONVERSATION
FAREWELL THE DRAGON
In Farewell the Dragon, Nate Scheutt, American, 35, is pulled into a politically charged murder investigation when he stumbles onto the bodies of two young Europeans on a prestigious Beijing university campus. Gradually Nate discovers the case is entwined with an international quest for a small stone tablet, (a stele) that might contain the key to ancient China's long-lost link with the West.
In the 1980's, old Beijing's walls and hutong alleyways were disappearing, victims of Deng Xiaoping's proclamation 致富光 荣!(To get rich is glorious!). While juggling teaching English, his business, (and women), Nate seeks refuge at the bar on the roof of the Friendship Hotel with a legation of self-imposed exiles from the both sides of the Cold War. There he enters a netherworld of sex, spies, strange religion and the hidden history of China's Cultural Revolution.
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