I'm pleased to welcome Alan Lee to Michigander Monday!
Debbie: Alan, please tell us a little about yourself.
Alan: I’ve been a journalist for over 30 years. I started out covering sports, having not fulfilled the pipe dream of becoming a professional athlete. The farthest I got on that front was playing semi-pro baseball in the Caribbean for a year.
My sports director days ended when Washington, DC came calling. I was up for two jobs at the same time. One, a sports director job in Austin, Texas, and the other meant switching to news for the NBC owned and operated station in DC, WRC-TV. Even the news director in Austin told me it was a no brainer so off to Washington it was.
While in DC, I got to cover at times one of my beloved passions, the intelligence community. The CIA, NSA, FBI, Secret Service, I couldn’t get enough of it. It certainly helped me gain some contacts and insight into the various government agencies.
Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your book.
Alan: Sandstorm is loosely based on a real-life collaborative effort by the U.S. and Israel aimed at derailing Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. The goal was to frustrate Tehran and force it to spend mass quantities of wealth, thus hopefully making the Iranians realize such goals were too costly and deadly to pursue.
In Sandstorm, I take that idea and run with it a bit. CIA agent Nora Mossa is on the run because of what her late mentor discovered. Now with her life in danger and nowhere to turn, she seeks the help of an ex-lover and former spy. Problem is, their relationship ended badly and Alex Koves swore he wanted nothing to do with her ever again. They must find a way to work together in order to avoid a Middle East catastrophe.
Debbie: Other books or projects on the horizon?
Alan: Yes, working on book two in the series. Sandstorm has been optioned to be a major motion picture so hopefully this is only the beginning of many more to come.
Book two brings back my protagonist Alex Koves, as he’s out to settle a score that painfully came to light in Sandstorm.
Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Alan: At the moment, I’m scheduled to appear at Leon & Lulu in Clawson on Oct. 27th for its “Books & Authors” program.
Debbie: Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore?
Alan: I’d have to say my favorite Michigan bookstore is Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor. It’s a quaint place that just feels so cozy. The employees are knowledgeable about authors and their work and they really seem to be into books. I’ve been in some bookstores where it’s obviously just a job for some people.
Debbie: How about a favorite place in Michigan?
Alan: I’m a city kind of guy so I enjoy the pavement and haunts that a big city has to offer so I’d have to say Detroit or one of the surrounding suburbs. I also like to golf so any location with a scenic 18 holes gets a gold star from me.
Debbie: Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?
Alan: I love jazz. It’s been my pleasure for the past several years to MC the opening night of the Detroit International Jazz Festival. This free event attracts a vast array of legendary names in the world of jazz. It’s a wonderful Labor Day weekend event.
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Alan: In terms of writers, of course Elmore Leonard comes to mind. It’s so tragic that he recently passed away. A true Michigan icon, his writing has stood the test of time. He started out writing westerns in the early 1950s. I interviewed him a number of times for TV and he was kind enough to provide a blurb for Sandstorm. If you want to learn a few things about the writing craft, go read a few of his books!
I’m privileged to call Aretha Franklin a friend. The first time she called me on the phone, I was convinced it was a prank call from one of my friends. Delighted that it wasn’t.
Michigan also has a great ambassador so to speak in Kid Rock. He’s always pumping up the state and is conscious about giving back to the people who helped him become the performer he is today.
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?
Alan: It’s not nearly as bad as those who don’t live here portray it. There’s a wealth of resources available and a spirit among the people that’s infectious.
Debbie: Last question. Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?
Alan: I’m originally from Chicago, but if I had to go with one, I’d choose Michigander. It sounds more intimidating and mysterious.
Debbie: We'll add you to the Michigander column. Alan, thank you for being here today for Michigander Monday!