James Ekeland

Looking for a book with a good story that is chock full of thrills and adventure, a book that takes you on a journey across the globe? A Mebane author’s recent debut crime/mystery novel fits that criteria.

Mebane resident James Ekeland’s novel, “Dark Voltage,” was published at the end of October 2021 by Newman Springs Publishing out of Red Bank, New Jersey.

The plot of “Dark Voltage” centers around a team, led by semi-retired New York City detective John Landford, as they race across the globe, and against time, to retrieve a stolen part from an electric generating plant. In the book, authorities fear this part will be used in a massive terrorism plot. 

 The team races to recover the part, but violence follows it at each turn.

“As the part travels in the hands of different people, a murder takes place – a murder follows the part as the part travels the globe,” Ekeland said.

Ekeland also noted that this novel is takes place in numerous locations across the world, starting in the United States and spreading out to Puerto Rico, all the way to Vienna, Austria, adding that as the plot develops, so does the “suspense and intrigue.”

The idea for “Dark Voltage” stems from Ekeland’s time as a marketing agent. He recalled arriving at his office one day to find several sticky notes all over his desk from the company he was servicing at the time, all telling him to call them when he got the message.

When Ekeland gave the company a call back, he was told to come to their office and they would explain everything.

“So, I drove out there and they introduced me to a new project that they were working on, which was to design and build the world’s largest gas fired power plant in the world, for Saudi Arabia.” he said.

A stipulation of that project was Saudi Arabia requested a film documentary on the project be made as part of it. Ekeland was told if he wanted the project, it was his. 

Following that meeting, Ekeland and a friend met to discuss the project and, in the process, were referred to an award-winning filmmaker who ended up wanting to work on the project. Ekeland noted working on the gas-fired power plant project was a huge inspiration for “Dark Voltage.”

Ekeland has lived in Mebane for about 22 years, moving to the city after living in Durham for 13 years after moving to North Carolina from up north. His career began in New York, where Ekeland was in advertising and corporate communications before moving into marketing.

When he moved to North Carolina, Ekeland was doing marketing work for companies, such as IBM and a Japanese company named Glory – and this work took him all over the globe, inspiring some of the locations in the novel.

“I traveled a great deal in Europe, all over Canada, in the Americas, in Japan and some of that area in Asia,” he said. “It’s been a full, full ride for me.”

Ekeland has always been a proficient and capable writer, thanks to his career in corporate communication, but “Dark Voltage” was his first stab at creative writing. But he did more than his fair share of creative projects prior to writing this novel. 

“I’ve had lots of energy through my life,” Ekeland said. “I designed and built my own house years ago, I have accomplished a great many different things, and it seems like I go through cycles and then get bored and then look for something else to tackle.”

Before taking up creative fiction writing, Ekeland, now retired, was in to watercolor painting and was in galleries up and down the East Coast. More recently, he took up woodworking and furniture making, doing so for the last eight or so years.

Although “Dark Voltage” is the first book Ekeland has written, in the past he made a habit of jotting down observations of the world around him.

“Many years ago, things would interest me and there were just random things – thoughts, things I’d see, people I’d meet, ideas that would come to me and I had no real idea of writing at that time, but I took notes about these things,” he said. “As I did it for a long while, I thought, you know, maybe I should put this stuff into a book.”

However, when Ekeland returned to those writings years later, he realized they were, as he put it, “junk.” 

Ekeland reached out to a publisher after he’d worked on the novel for a while.

The publisher connected him to an independent editior, who he sent a 5,000-word “Dark Voltage” manuscript to. The editor agreed to read the book for an hour and a half and make comments on it.

Ekeland noted that when writing those first 5,000 words, the writing came easy, which worried him that the final product might not turn out well. So, he waited for the editor’s comments.

“A day later, I got the comments from her and they were literally three sentences and I thought, ‘Well, that’s not too bad,’” Ekeland said. “As I carefully went through what she wrote, it turns out those three sentences kind of caused me to rewrite the entire 5,000 words. At the end, though, she said, ‘Whatever you do, you can write so don’t stop.’”

He then began re-working the novel, trying to implement some of the ideas and changes the editor outlined in her comments. Ekeland called this process “a struggle.” 

“I would walk away from the book, I just wouldn’t work on it for some time, then I’d pick it up and work on it for a couple of weeks, then I put it away for a month and then I’d work on it again for a month,” he said. “So, it was a long time coming, but after a while I got more into the flow and more into the comments that she gave me that I could build in through the book.”

As mentioned above, “Dark Voltage” was released in late October and, since its release, Ekeland has hosted a few successful local book signings and has been given good feedback from those who have read the book.

“Dark Voltage” can be purchased at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Books-A-Million. The novel is available for purchase internationally, as well. 

Ekeland told the Mebane Enterprise that, due to the success of this novel, he plans to write “a kind of sequel” to “Dark Voltage” with the same main characters and a “very, very different” plot.