“FRANK LEE A NOVEL” FRANKLY FANTASTICAL ADVENTURE: WE TALK WITH THE AUTHOR
Great end-of-summer beach reads are usually difficult to find however not this year. Asbury Park resident Jeffery Seeds has published his first novel, a fantastical, honest around-the-world adventure aptly titled “Frank Lee a Novel.”
Named an Amazon “Best Book So Far” earlier this month, “Frank Lee” is a 247-page ride that one reviewer called “’Forest Gump’ meets The Muppets’ Gonzo meets ‘Dr. Who?’ and another said is a “brilliant commentary on contemporary values tucked into a can’t-put-it-down story.”
Relationships, religion, politics, social justice are all fair game for Seeds’ satirical, dry, quick-wit and unconventionally compelling brain. His voice and perspective is reminiscent of a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. Everyone has a book in them – Seeds likely has hundreds based on his life experiences around the globe. I spoke with the author last week.
TBP: Your favorite book was an inspiration for “Frank Lee.”
Seeds: Voltaire’s “Candide” has always been my favorite novel. I think it’s the best novel ever written. For a very long time I wanted to write a book with a nod to “Candide” that takes place in the modern age. “Frank Lee” is about being honest more than candid.
I started thinking about “Frank Lee” in 1989, taking notes and building a folder of ideas. On and off I traveled, lived and loved, wrote other books I didn’t want to publish and then in 2013, I felt it was time to focus on this story. I woke up one day and the book was fully formed in my head. The novel actually fell out of me when I sat down to write it. Four months later, it was done. And then of course, I reworked it over and over again. Frank Lee was initially a Lance Armstrong-type person and now there is no hint of that.
The story always began with the richest family in Texas. Everything is big in Texas and everyone is important. I thought the Republic of Texas, as Texans call it, was a natural transposition for a modern day “Candide.” The story quickly leaves the state in Chapter 4 and begins moving through 35 different countries. “Around the world in 30 years” I like to say.
TBP: How much of you, personally is shared in “Frank Lee?”
Seeds: I projected myself into a number of the characters in the book. I went to a Quaker college and lived outside the US for 12 years. During that time, I learned that a sensitivity to international culture can help bring about peace and transcend politics. The character Frank Lee is not me but he is informed by me.
The pretense of the novel is through his travels and encounters he has bad luck but keeps moving forward. “Frank Lee” is an around-the-globe lampoon of the modern age full of horny pirates and crazy philosophers, secret societies and lesbian anarchists, religious fanatics and diamond mines, tsunamis and hallucinations, I hope it is a timeless book that utilizes topical events to punctuate bigger themes. I wanted the story to be funny… amusing. Laughing brings people together and in this case, we laugh at some serious issues. I hope the reader asks, “Is he serious or is he tweaking me right now?” over and over again.
TBP: Talk about the cover of “Frank Lee.”
Seeds: It was inspired by Japanese Sumi-e artwork – very simple, saying a lot with just a few lines. Is the figure looking over his shoulder? Which way is he moving around the globe? The cover will have a completely different meaning after you read the book.
TBP: Finally, after decades of writing for yourself, how are you feeling after publishing your first book?
Seeds: The strongest emotion came when I actually finished the book. I realized I accomplished something that I thought about for almost 25 years. For all the other books I wrote and put away, I am happy to have “Frank Lee” identified as my first. If I publish nothing else, I am proud of this book.
Words! Bookstore, 623 Cookman Avenue will be hosting a book signing with Seeds September 12 at 6 pm.