5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Monday, November 17, 2014

Indie Author Interview: Adam Dreece

Indie Author Interview with Adam Dreece - Author of the Science-Fiction/Steampunk Series The Yellow Hoods.

Adam Dreece is a young adult author who layers his work for the mature reader. His new series, The Yellow Hoods, has struck a cord with readers of all ages, and has been called refreshing, unique, thought provoking and a fun, wild ride.

Interview with Adam Dreece

Author Adam Dreece
Author Adam Dreece
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Adam Dreece: In April this year, I released my first book after 25+ years of writing short stories I shared with only friends and family. I'm not a writer by profession or education, but I've loved writing since high school.
As a dyslexic, it had its challenges, particularly at first. Getting angry with one's self when you've read something seven times and it words that are completely wrong, doesn't do you any good.
It took me a long time to develop a writing process that would allow me to be productive and successful. These days, as I write a draft, then make sure I do my 3 revisions, and then it's up to the editor to highlight where I still don't make sense.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
George Orwell and Aldous Huxley always jump to mind. Brave New World really hit me when I was a teen, then contrasting that with 1984, and then reading Animal Farm, added to that line of thinking.
Some non-fiction authors that come to mind are Seth Godin, Patrick Lencioni and Malcolm Gladwell I also have really enjoyed. Each has a particular way of bringing interesting information across in a narrative with a particular style.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I knew writing was a part of me in high school, but whenever I made friends with people who wrote, they considered themselves writers but not me. Often I was told that my stories hit an emotional mark, that it was vivid but it was not really literary stuff. I was taking computer science and philosophy at university, and not liberal arts or English, and it was amazing how quickly that would play into it.
Every now and then I'd get excited about my writing, I'd distribute it to friends and I'd get great responses everyone, and then I'd stop, giving the right of way to my technical career. But a bad appendix situation, which gave rise to 15 months of horrific scar pain, followed on by being hit with severe asthma, got me to start thinking about life differently.
For three years I wrote and revised a personal memoir covering my life and rebuilding myself. In November last year, I decided to put it aside. I had planned to publish it after another round of editing but I realized I wasn't at a skill level I wanted to be at to make it as poignant as it could be. On November 28th, in a discussion with my wife, I stated how the experience had made me see that I truly wanted to go after being a real, full time author. So I set myself a goal that within 5 years I wanted to be financially replacing my full time job, and focused exclusively on writing.
My daughter gave me the nudge for The Yellow Hoods, and she is my muse. Pretty much every scene is read to hear, and must meet with her approval. It's a great father/daughter experience.

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was in Grade 6, I believe it was called the Assassin's Day. Somewhere in my 'memory boxes' I've still got it I think. My English teacher was really impressed with it, and it was my first piece of writing that I got an A on (I think it was an A). I still remember the cover, a good old skull & crossbones printed out on a dot matrix printer.
My parents read the story and hated it. They required me to write 'nice stories' afterwards, so the next one I wrote was about a teddy bear walking along a river. I got a terrible grade, my teacher pulled me aside and asked me what was going on, and my parents struggled to find a middle ground.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
It usually starts with a couple of scenes that are disconnected, playing out in my head. It's like I've sneaked into a movie theater for a moment and seen something, a couple of times, and then from there I try to figure out what's the story being told. After walking around with it and feeling that I can't let it go (the first litmus test), I start making some notes.
I randomly fill in the scenes, rearrange them, drop them, create new ones until I feel that I can see the tale trying to be told. That's when I start trying out timelines, which is a classic fish-bone diagram. I draw a line which is time, and then I draw lines from that with notes about what took place then or what 'should have happened here'.
Once I see that timeline, it really starts coming together. I fill in the blanks and once I'm done that first draft, I'm ready for my 3 rounds of revision. Upon revision, I add in descriptions, find the missing scenes, and overall, tend to add to the word count by about 10-15%.

Please, describe your desk/workplace.
Right now, it's my kitchen table. After dinner, I take the monitor off the hutch and put things back. Soon my youngest will be ready to share a room with my older son, and I'll have an official office in the house. I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

"The hardest part though, is getting the word out about one's books."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?

The easiest thing is coming up with ideas. I can have a million ideas, but actually having ideas that thread together in a way that is substantive, that has purpose for the characters involved, and that the reader on a specific journey is hard.
I make a real point of thinking through all the plots, sub-plots, and ancillary elements. The number of people who have written to me and said "I can't believe you didn't forget about the X that you introduced at the beginning! That was SO COOL!"
The hardest part though, is getting the word out about one's books.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I have people tell me how much they loved the story, how it gripped them or how it's their favorite story, it blows my mind. I really struggle to absorb that reality. As a writer, you aspire to getting that kind of statement from stranger after stranger, whether directly or read it in reviews, it's amazing and terrifying.
I feared when I was writing book 2 that I wouldn't be able to have the same response as I did with book 1, and I was right. The response was even stronger, and even MORE positive for book 2. People who were fans of book 1 became hyper fans of book 2. People who were so-so on book 1, became fans of book 2.
For book 3, there was a point in the first draft where I finally felt I'd written something that was a worthy successor to book 2. But honestly? I'm still terrified. I'm assuming that's a good thing.

The Yellow Hoods - Along Came a Wolf (Adam Dreece)
Click to Read an Excerpt

Adam, please tell us a little about your Science-Fiction/Steampunk Series The Yellow Hoods.
It's a young adult series that I've written for the mature reader. It allows a tween to appreciate the adventures of the teenaged Tee, Elly and Richy as they go from being regular kids in a world around 1800 to heroic figures, and allows an adult to have a tale of layered with intrigue, humour, and emotional complexities.
I've laced the tale with a bit of fairy-tale but from the perspective that the best tales were based on something real, so I've made real events from which such rhymes or stories could have been derived. Like Ring-Around-the-Rosie was about the black plague, I've taken things like the Santa Claus myth and combined that with Nikola Tesla, to give me the master inventor and grandfather figure, Nikolas Klaus.
From a Steampunk perspective, I define this as Emergent Steampunk because I bring the reader along for the transformation from a nearly regular world in the 1800s into the unique world of The Yellow Hoods. My plan is to
Some have compared the series to the Kingkiller Chronicles mixed with the Hunger Games, others to Harry Potter for the bond that forms between the teens who become The Yellow Hoods.

What inspired you to write the book?
My daughter, as with many fathers, is the apple of my eye. When she asked that I write down the story of "the Hoods" that I'd told her a couple of times at bedtime, which I made up out of thin air, I thought about it. I was stuck writing another tale I intended to spin, so I put it aside, and wrote Along Came a Wolf for her. I never looked back.
One of the core elements of The Yellow Hoods is having strong female characters. I was tired of reading stories over the years to my daughter that lacked characters that my daughter could be inspired by, could see different versions of herself in as she grew up. I also wanted my sons to read stories when they're older that help them see women in ways that they don't get to in most other books.

"Anyone who loves a good tale, who loves being sucked into a world, is the right audience."

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
I've written this tale because I wanted a 10 year old to be able to enjoy it, and for a 40 something to be able to pick up the same book and feel that they were getting a tale spun for them.
I wasn't interesting in writing a tale about high school politics, but about rich characters and how they are tested and change through struggles. Everyone can relate to that, and to different parts of it depending on what they are going through in their real life.
Anyone who loves a good tale, who loves being sucked into a world, is the right audience.

What makes your book special?
There are few books that can take a tale you thought you knew, and present it to you in a way that has you feeling you never knew that tale like you did now. Those tales take place as just a part of a new world of innovation, inspiration and change, in a way that isn't boiled down to be simplistic.
More than anything, I'm told the character development stands on the shoulders of these other elements, allowing the people, the tale and the world to be truly gripping.

"My head is still spinning and this is only the beginning."

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
Remarkable. My head is still spinning and this is only the beginning.
I'd never written, never mind published, a book before April. When I stood behind my booth at CalgaryExpo, awaiting 97,000 people to come past over a 4 day period, I had no idea what I was really doing. I was surprised how well it sold. Then when September came, before I went to two other events and sold more than 3.5x as many, I had an online following that started consuming the book. I sold more in 9 days than I had in 4 months online.
I have a wonderful, devoted and supportive following on Twitter eagerly awaiting more.
The response has only steeled my resolve in getting to that goal of being a full time writer.

How long did it take it to write the book?
I walk around with the idea for a couple of weeks, these days that's during the editing process and book production stages of the previous book. When I finally sit down to write, it takes me about 3 months. That's a lot of evenings and an hour and a half on Saturdays, time carved out of my life with a family of 3 and a full time job.
Unlike other writers, I don't like working on multiple things at once. I did this during the writing of book 2, and I found it really difficult to get back into the zone of the other work. I probably cost me an extra month of revisions just to make sure everything came out alright.

"The most important piece of advise is STOP messing with it, FINISH IT [...]"

Can you give some advice for other Authors regarding the writing process?
Everyone else's advice is all well and good, but you've got to figure out what works for you. The book I had intended to write instead of The Yellow Hoods came to a screeching halt because I got too organized, I felt paralyzed.
I have some friends who have said I should do less X when I write, and others that have said I should do more Y, but when they read what I produce, I get that look of "just do what you're doing, this is amazing."
The most important piece of advise is STOP messing with it, FINISH IT, and then don't rework it to death, get it out there. You are limited in how much you can improve without genuine reader feedback.

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
Currently I'm working on wrapping up Book 3 of The Yellow Hoods, called All the King's Men. As the world has expanded from book 1 to book 2, it's about to get a whole lot bigger in book 3. The darker tone that started part way through book 1, and carried through book 2, gets darker still in book 3. Friendships are tested, new technologies revealed, and if the ending of book 2 had you yelling DREEECE as some have on Twitter, well... never mind.
After book 3 I'm planning on returning to my short story called The Torrents of Tangier (Dieselpunk) and turning that into a novella, before heading on to The Yellow Hoods book 4.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I think that physical books will continue to live, but I think that indie authors really have a role to play in making bookstores special. It's one thing to have an eBook, but its another thing to have an opportunity to meet the author and have a signed copy of the book. It has experiential value, it creates a memory. It's not the same being at a "Facebook event" where everyone's chatting and then you buy the book.
We're largely culminations of experiences, and physical books have a role to play in that.

What is your e-reading device of choice?
As far as e-readers go, I read on my iPad with Kindle. My iPhone 5 is too small to read on, and I'm eying that 6 Plus but it's not in the budget.

"I take the most difficult days as motivation to become a full time writer."

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job? When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I do. When I'm not writing, or spending time with my family, or giving someone a hand with something, I'm a solution architect which means in the world of software development, I'm the guy to take the ideas and needs and create a technical blueprint for how we're getting there. At the moment, I'm wrapping up leading a team that's been working on a project for 2.5 years and it's definitely had its stressful points.
I take the most difficult days as motivation to become a full time writer.

How can readers connect with you
Readers can join me on Twitter @AdamDreece, visit my blog at AdamDreece.com where I write about writing, my author's journey and other items, as well as on Facebook on /TheYellowHoods fan page.

Thank you very much for the Interview, Adam.

About the Book The Yellow Hoods - Along Came a Wolf

The Yellow Hoods - Along Came a Wolf (Adam Dreece)
Click to Read an Excerpt
Seeds of a technological revolution have started to sprout in this old world, about to change it forever. A secret society, long thought crushed, makes its first move against its unsuspecting, benevolent opponent.

Master inventor Nikolas Klaus has seen some of this coming, and has quietly broken the rule of keeping his secret society's knowledge and skills from the younger generations. He knows that the day will come when they will be needed, but has underestimated how soon.

Tee, Elly, and Richy shed their innocence and are forced to stand as the Yellow Hoods to overcome life- threatening dangers unleashed as secrets of Nikolas' past are revealed.

Will Nikolas' secrets cost him the life of his granddaughter? Are his efforts too little, too late?

- "If you are looking for a well written and creative, original book- this is it. The story is fresh and easy to follow, yet still provides pleasant surprises along the way. The ideas are beyond creative and extremely enjoyable. But my favorite thing about this book? The unique character development! I have never read a book that has such an amazing visual of the growth (or decline, in the case of LeLoup) of a character.[...]" - Reader Review

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback The Yellow Hoods - Along Came a Wolf with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook The Yellow Hoods - Along Came a Wolf with Excerpt on Amazon

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