The Mint Hill-area native, who now makes her home just outside of London, England, majored in chemistry and admits to struggling with English class during her school years.
“I can still picture my poor English teacher at Northeast Junior High, trying to teach me sentence structure,” Speer joked. “I could do chemistry and biology all day, but English – I really struggled with it.”
But years of life experience coupled with a determined sense of creativity culminated last month with the publication of Speer’s first novel. “Demolition Queen – Champagne, Murder & Chaos” was officially released on Jan. 31 and is available in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
Speer describes the novel as a “bio-tech thriller,” which tells the story of Sam Albany – an American living in England who stars in her own demolition-action television show. A dramatic series of events – including the death of the love of her life, a marriage to a jealous and controlling husband and the hijacking of a lifesaving biotechnology Sam’s mom developed – leads Sam down a “bizarre and perilous” scavenger hunt to find the people who stole the biotechnology and prevent it from being used as a murder weapon.
“She’s fighting off the bad guys and solving the mystery,” Speer said of her novel’s protagonist. “It’s a fun thing throughout the novel … and it’s important that the women (in the book) are intelligent and competent characters. I love showing women who are strong and people you want to look up to.”
Part of the inspiration for the novel came from Speer’s love for demolition. After graduating college, working in technical sales for Kodak and living in Hong Kong, China, Speer relocated to Charlotte to start a family. She and her husband began taking on home renovation projects – buying houses, fixing them up and selling them.
“I love demolition … I’ve always been into that,” Speer said. “I thought that was a little different – you don’t run into many women who have the desire to do that.”
She always thought it would be fun to host her own demolition and renovation television show. “I gave the heroine in the book the TV show I always wanted to have,” she said.
Speer, who always thought it would be fun to write a novel, started the beginning stages of her book several years ago before running into some writer’s block, as the writing process proved to be more difficult than she originally thought.
“I thought I could knock this thing out in a year and a half (to) two years,” she said. “It wasn’t until two years ago when I decided to change from third person to first person in the book. All of a sudden it came alive, and I could say things in a way that started to make more sense.”
When the novel was done, Speer gave a copy of the draft to her mom, who lives in the Matthews area. The feedback she received from her mom was so positive Speer knew she had to pursue publishing the book and eventually chose to self-publish through CreateSpace. She hired the company to do an editorial review of the book, where a CreateSpace editor read the novel and made recommendations and gave constructive criticism.
“I loved it. It gave me things to change and target, things that maybe weren’t strong enough,” Speer said. After making the changes, she submitted the novel for the final professional edit, and it was published in both paperback and e-book format in the U.S. and the
Feedback from readers has been positive, Speer said, and sales are going well. She’s received positive reviews on Amazon.com, and friends and family also are enjoying “seeing the bits of my life or our experiences together that influenced a section of the novel,” she said.
Looking ahead to the future, Speer plans to work with a friend who also is a British Broadcasting Corporation producer to draft a screenplay in hopes of making the novel into a film. She also hopes to publish two more novels in the “Demolition Queen” series.
“This is fun. It’s meant to be entertaining escapism … a fun story (to) take you out of your everyday life,” she said.
Search for “Demolition Queen” on Amazon.com for more information or to purchase the novel.