Welcome, welcome! Today we have Adam Dreece from Montreal, Quebec here to visit with us. Adam has several books to his name, so at the end of the interview I’ll point you to his Amazon and website, where you can explore his writing for yourself.
Adam, why don’t you get us started with a little bit of history about yourself, and where you are from?
- I’m from Montreal, Quebec and currently live in Calgary, Alberta. Moving to Calgary was like coming home, for the first time.
- You wouldn’t be surprised to hear that a world-class computer science university educated guy, who has worked in Silicon Valley and lead multi-million dollar teams, created a startup, would you? What about a literary startup? What about a guy who treated his writing career like a startup? Ah, a bit unusual, isn’t it? That’s me we’re talking about.Discovering Dungeons and Dragons at a young age set my mind on fire. For years I was the guy responsible for coming up with the adventures for my friends to play (the Dungeon Master). I spent countless hours, and where my dyslexia got in the way of reading the thick books, I’d extrapolate, reconstruction information and come up with rules that worked. These skills would prove invaluable time and again.There was a critical point when I had a decision to make between going the creative writing track or the science track. Cutting to the chase, and skipping the argument with my dad, I went to the science track. Years later, graduating from the University of Waterloo with honours, my technical career took off. Yet, the writing remaining.Throughout university, and then every few years, I’d binge write. Like an addict who had to catch up, I wrote like a madman until the internal pressure came down to a level whereby my sense of duty to be responsible reclaimed the throne, and I focused back on work. In 2009, when my life was flipped upside down with horrific scar pain, then 15 months later as I got a handle on that I was hit with severe asthma, I found myself writing. Then in November 2013, I put that memoir aside and stated that I wanted to be a full time writer within 5 years and my wife supported me 100%.
Is there a particular incident that inspired you to start writing, or did it evolve out of your Dungeon Mastering?
- What a fascinating question. I remember playing with my safari action figures and making stories, then when my brother was born telling him stories. That moved into playing D&D and just continued.Writing for me is exploring, it’s like being a historian to other worlds and moments that sometimes I can shape and sometimes I can only witness. There’s nothing like it.
- I spun stories when I was playing D&D with my friends, and then started writing in late high school, but as I mentioned, I kept pushing that stuff away. It had in part to do with the people around me, but nothing could extinguish this sense inside of me that it was something I had to do, that it was a part of me.
Can you point to the incident that told you that you really were a writer, not just someone spinning tall tales and good games?
- I sort of considered myself a writer in university, though the friends I had around me from high school until then didn’t consider me one. It was funny, given that I was studying Computer Science and Philosophy, and I wasn’t in an English Literature program, I wasn’t “a writer.” Even friends who were in other programs like Psychology were considered writers, but me? No. I just shrugged my shoulders and kept doing what I do.These days, with my fourth book (third novel) coming out, I’m starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I really am a writer.
Funny you mention that you wrote, even though you weren’t in one of the usual degree tracks that turn out writers. I’m sure it provides an interesting perspective on the different genres, and lets you add some unique details to your own work.
Do you consider writing your career then?
- Absolutely. I went full time in January and treat my authoring career as a startup. There’s a lot to get done to build a successful career as an author, and I’m going at it guns blazing.
Speaking of unique and giving it your all, would you say your writing style can be considered unique?
- I’m told I write video, that my books strike people as if it’s a movie and they feel very much in the moments. Another thing that I do is I have very rich characters. They are complex, they are flawed and heroic, and I love getting into that without weighing down the plot.I also layer my work for different age groups, and I think about the chapter names and tie that into everything.When I do the actual writing, I jump around rather than write from the beginning to the end. I’ll write one of the final scenes, then an early scene or a scene somewhere else and then just keep doing that until a coherent draft starts to take shape.
I envy writers who can do that. When I’m working through my own books, I have to write linearly, or it doesn’t stitch together smoothly.
Since you have 4 books out now, do you still remember what inspired you to write the very first one?
- When I put my memoir aside in November 2013, I had a vision for a series. I got myself SUPER organized and tried to write and… nothing. I felt choked. My daughter nudged me and asked if I could please write the Hoods, a story I’d told her a number of times.I loved that a story idea I’d had was one of my daughter’s favorites, but as I put words to paper, it became something much more rich and gripping. It easily became my daughter’s new favorite, and I had the beginning of a great series on my hands.
Are you at a point in your journey where you can share from your latest work, and maybe tell us a little of your current news?
- I just released Snappy & Dashing, a novelette and experiment. I have book 3 of The Yellow Hoods, called All the King’s-Men, coming out at the end of April. I decided why not take some of the deleted scenes ideas from Book 3 and make a novelette? Make a book 2.5 that was entirely optional for a reader to consume, but if they did, it would make book 3 all the richer.Snappy & Dashing is the first in my “A Yellow Hoods Companion Tale” side-series, and I’m currently working on another installment while I also work on book 4.All the King’s-Men comes out on April 15th  in eBook and in print on April 25th . It’s already getting the strongest reviews from early reviews that I’ve ever received, which is amazing.
- The Yellow Hoods Book 4 – Beauties of the Beast, is in the works, as is another Yellow Hoods Companion Tale called The Butcher’s Gambit. I have a dieselpunk story that I need to finish sprucing up, but the Yellow Hoods stories keep getting excited and take over my time.
- Beauties of the Beast (The Yellow Hoods, #4) is where the true evil has shown itself, and the tension builds. Emotionally, it’ll lighter than All the King’s-Men and will build that sense of excitement and tension going into the final book in the series. But don’t worry, the sequel series is already forming and will continue the amazing adventures of the Yellow Hoods on Eorthe.The Butcher’s Gambit is the next A Yellow Hoods Companion Tale. It focuses on Eleanor DeBoeuf, the butcher of the secret society known as the Tub. She had a role to play in the events at the end of All the King’s-Men, and has been a fascinating character I’ve had in mind for quite some time. The problem before having the companion tales is that I had no way to bring characters like her into the picture without dramatically increasing the cast size and potentially overwhelming readers. With a companion tale, I can focus on her and let everyone know what happened to Anna Kundle Maucher from Breadcrumb Trail as well.
The titles you keep throwing around sound intriguing. Can you share your process for title selection?
- A title’s a focal point for me, something that I need to anchor where I’m going with the story. As I wrote Along Came a Wolf, and started tying it here and there to classic fairy tale, I saw a wonderful intersection between Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. I also saw the metaphor to the transition from being kids to being teens and growing up, represented by the wolf.
Sounds like it ought to be a bunch of fun to read. I’ve always enjoyed seeing fairy tales turned on their ears. I was also intrigued by the covers. Did you do those yourself, or work with someone else?
- We found an amazing artist by the name of Xia who does the art, and then my wife, Jennifer, pulls that together into the covers that keep getting noticed. Xia is able to truly grab the nature of what we’re after and offers a unique style that just connects with people emotionally.
Besides the admitted tie-ins into the fairy tales, do you draw anything from reality or your own experiences to add flavor to your books?
- Actually, quite a bit. As a software architect over the past twenty years, I’ve learned a lot about how people and technology interact, and I wanted to bring some of that to my stories. I wanted to have technology that was not just believable, but only a bit of out reach. One of those things that was grounded and made you think “Oh, maybe it could work like this.”
- There’s a lot that I draw on from my life or from those around me. In book 2, when a girl is fighting with the pain from her amputated arm, that comes directly from my experience with pain. Her need to find a way to turn the pain into an ally also comes from my experience.In order to get the intensity that I need to have for writing, I need to have experienced it or be able to pull on enough to allow me to simulate in deep inside me. I have to feel as close to it as I can.
Definitely a unique approach to writing, at least in my limited experience talking with fellow authors.
While you are writing, do you weave in messages into your work for the readers to find?
- Several, and some readers have noted them in reviews. Firstly, I believe in having strong female characters, without making it a girl-power book. I have, and have had, some of the most amazing women in my life and I want to see them exist in my worlds. I want my daughter to be read about these complex girls and women, and to have my sons one day come to see women differently than they are so often portrayed in so many books and movies.Family values and relationships are also an undercurrent in my books, without any religious tie. There’s too much “teens know everything” books and movies out there, and there’s so little that actually seems to respect the family unit, whatever its shape and form. I believe the strength of society starts with the family.
I can agree with that sentiment, at least where the mass media is concerned. Since you’re quietly adding these messages, are you doing so because of books that have influenced you in the past?
- [Possibly.] Other than Brave New World, there was 1984 and the contrast with Brave New World. There was also Childhood’s Mind and Outliers. All together the common theme really is about looking at the world, and belonging, differently.
Do you have any authors you look up to as a mentor, even if you’ve never met?
- None, honestly. As a dyslexic
Do you have anyone, outside of your immediate family, who has supported you on your journey?
- My tweeps. They, as a collective and as individuals, are a tremendous source of support for me. Whenever I’ve felt stuck or down, they are there to lift me up and dust me off. I can’t believe how amazing they are.
What about authors? Do you have any favorites that you can share with us?
- Still to this day, it’s Aldous Huxley. His Brave New World really stuck with me. It was the first time that I’d read a book that I realized how much social commentary was being made, and how sterile things could become if left unchanged in society.From a general read point of view, I enjoy Malcolm McDowell though he is on the non-fiction side.
From your perspective, having published several books now, if you were to start this journey over again with the knowledge you have gained, would you change anything along the way?
- In All the King’s-Men no, but in Breadcrumb Trail there were a few things though minor, like moving some of the tension that’s at all at the end to being sooner.When I wrote book 1 I wasn’t the writer I am now, and if I wrote it down it would be twice the size and have a lot of additional elements to it. Fortunately, with my creating of the side-series A Yellow Hoods Companion Tale, I’ve created the ability for me to add novelettes in and around the other books, boosting the story for those that love the series.
You’ve mentioned dyslexia, and I saw on your Amazon page that you’ve had some other illnesses to overcome. Did you have any writing challenges to overcome as well that you can share with us?
- Absolutely nothing, and if you believe that, wow, I worry for your mental safety. I learned an unbelievable amount, the first of which was how much there is to do in order to get a book published other than simply writing it. Marketing is definitely the hardest challenge, and the one that pulls you away from writing the most, but it’s necessary.
- More than anything is finding the time to just focus and write. Since I went full time as an author, my life has been a whirlwind. I started writing and doing a signing every other weekend, now by the time June 7th arrives, I will have done 21. I will have met with a few schools to become an author in residence, I will have done 2 panels at CalgaryExpo (our local comic-con type event with more than 100k people), and a pile of other stuff. Did I mention planning the launch event that a big box store wants to do for All the King’s-Men?I know that this whirlwind will come down soon, and so I had to make the decision to ease off the stress level and role with it. Doing that allowed me to push Beauties of the Beast out and find room for The Butcher’s Gambit. If I can, there’s another novelette I’d like to get out before Beauties, which is called The Blue Eyed Road, which will make sense to readers after reading King’s-Men.
- [One of the hardest challenges is] releasing it into the wild and allowing myself to be judged. See my advice for other writers answer!
All right, I’ll bite. What IS your advice to other writers?
- Often I mention that the first thing is to finish the work, but more importantly, it’s about getting over the fear of judgment. You get so much as a writer by having people read your work and give you feedback that can allow you to write the next book even better. I feel for writers who write several books in a series, none of them published, without that amazing opportunity for growth that comes from engaging with real readers.
And, real readers, I’m sure include other authors. Are you reading anything interesting right now?
- I’m beta reading M.W.Griffith’s first novel. I’ve beta read his second novella, The Truth about Alex, and really enjoyed it. I’m not much a police / mystery type of guy in terms of reading (TV is a different beast), but Michael’s work is really good and worth checking out.
Is this a new author, or someone who’s already established? If an established, have you discovered any new authors you would recommend?
- Oh oh, I jumped the gun in the last question now didn’t I? Another author who I’m enjoying watch progress is Olivia Foust. She’s got an intensity to her that I want to see come out. On my list of to read are Luther Siler’s books. The Benevolent Archives sounds just zany, which I could use some of that in my life, and his Mars story Skylights has reviews by some people that I respect and makes me want to read it all the more. An author that I’ve seen a bit of what she has coming down the pipe and I’m eager to see what results, is Mia Sandara. These might all be famous names one day.
::Chucklkes:: That’s all right. I see it to mean you really are enjoying the story. That’s a good recommendation by itself.
Before I close out the interview, Adam, do you have any final words you’d like to share with our readers?
- Please support indie authors by not only giving their books a read but please review them. Reviews are extremely important and even if you didn’t love it, honest reviews matter.And most importantly, thank you for taking the time to read this interview. I hope that you’ll give my books a look and connect with me on Twitter @AdamDreece
I know you’ve got one new interested party right here.
If you are interested in connecting with Adam, you can find him here on his website, on Twitter here (or just use the handle he’s already graciously given.) here (his profile page) and here (The Yellow Hoods book series page) on Facebook, here on Amazon, or you can look him up on Ello and GooglePlus.
Thank you all for coming out, and I hope you enjoyed getting to know Adam a little better. Next week we’ll be talking to Kate Davidson from Tracy Webber’s A Killer’s Retreat.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comment section. I’ll make sure to pass them on, and have him come back to answer then for you.
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