At a random outing to my local Chapters bookstore, I met author, Adam Dreece. Being that this store is one of my more avid haunts; it was the store manager who introduced me to Adam. She told me that, Adam, was one of the most engaging self-published authors she’d ever met and that this guy is going somewhere.
Looking at his book display in the store, Adam, stood dressed in a dapper steampunk-esque vest and monocle. The table was arranged with accolades to his latest books, complete with professionally put together banners. I was impressed immediately at his dedication and obvious passion for his stories.
Today, I have the privilege of sharing with you, a peek in to the inner workings of this indie author.
So – I introduce to you, Adam Dreece.
Adam, you’ve just released your fourth novel in The Yellow Hoods series. How many books are left before the series is complete? And when can we expect them to be released?
The current story arc is going to wrap up in Book 5. However, in Book 4 I’ve laid the groundwork for book 6 (possibly 7 as well). There’s one more piece of The Yellow Hoods storyline that I want to do before I wrap things up, which will likely be 1-2 more books.
Having read the first two books in your series, I admire how you’ve combined both the steampunk and fairy tale genres together. Can you tell us a bit about the storyline of this series, and what inspired you to write it?
The story is really one about coming of age, not just of the Yellow Hoods trio (Tee, Elly and Richy), but of ideas that shape society. The story reveals two secret societies, the Tub and the Fare, and how they’ve succeeded or failed at exerting their influence over the past few decades.
Our fairy tale stories and rhymes are their real world events, whether that’s Santa Claus represented as two brilliant inventors in their twilight years, Nikolas Klaus and Christophe Creangle, or the Tub which is lead by a butcher, a baker and a candle-stick maker.
For those unfamiliar with steampunk, or those that know it well, I call The Yellow Hoods an ‘Emergent Steampunk’ series. Rather than feeling like you are walking into a Victorian Clockwork world, you start with a small mountain town. All the elements of invention, and the history of the world as well as where its going, are woven into the storyline itself.
As for inspiration, well my daughter gave me the nudge to write the first story, Along Came a Wolf. I was stuck writing something else, and she suggested I take a silly bedtime story I’d told her once and give it new life, and I did. From a world perspective, I first visited Steampunk back in 2000 when I wrote a Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game supplement for a contest being run by Wizards of the Coast, but it failed to get submitted correctly. Part of that world I’m currently reusing in my free online serial, The Wizard Killer.
What advice do you have for new writers who are just starting out?
Recognize that there are two great fears: Finishing and Judgment, and find a way to conquer them. It’s hard to declare something finished, that you are going to move on. I see so many people take a redwood of an idea, and whittle it down to a toothpick. Learn to let go and move on. For every story you complete, you will become stronger and better, and you will have better ideas and be able to execute them even better.
And then comes the Judgment. You need to get early feedback (beta readers) and listen to what they have problems with, and look at their proposed solutions as more hints of what may have bothered them. Their concerns are real, though their solutions are rarely the right ones. It’s hard to get feedback, to listen to it, because while we are fierce in creativity, we are all sensitive to words that affect our sense of worth. All I can say is that the difference between being an author versus being a writer, is putting your work out there and learning to let the arrows harm you as little as possible, and learning to let the praise touch you.
There’s a world of potential marketing avenues out there for indie authors. Do you have any marketing tips or strategies that have worked well for you?
Connecting with people genuinely and directly on Twitter has worked. Genuinely means without automation. No automated thank yous, no automated anything except maybe scheduling some tweets regarding blog posts that people might find useful. Another thing is not blasting your following with ads, because you will quickly get muted.
Offline, meeting people directly at expos like CalgaryExpo has been amazing for me. Building a fan base is a grassroots thing, and you do it by earning one reader and fan at a time. You have to get out of your shell, put on the author hat, and meet people because no one will be better at convincing them to give your book a chance than you.
Do you have a favourite author or book? What was so memorable about their works?
You know, this is the first time during an interview I actually remembered to mention this book, it’s Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchett. The characters and their contrast still sticks with me, and the humor. I loved that book.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/adamdreece
Indigo – http://smarturl.it/IndigoAdam
Amazon – http://smarturl.it/AmzAll
iBooks – http://smarturl.it/iAdam
Kobo – http://smarturl.it/KoboAll
Book Trailer: AdamDreece.com/booktrailer
I know that writing hasn’t always been your profession. Can you tell us a bit about what you did before you became a full-time writer, and why you made the change?
When I was in high school I started doing two things, writing stories and programming. Okay, and playing lots of Dungeons and Dragons, so three things, but they were all inter-related. From there, programming and writing stayed with me.
For 25 years I did nothing with my writing, and for the past 20 years, I’ve been in software. Specifically, I quickly went from being a software developer to a software architect. I’ve been the write hand on projects as big as $100 Million (I can’t say that without thinking of Doctor Evil), and have worked for Microsoft and in Silicon Valley.
The drop in oil prices and the sudden scarcity of contract positions for me gave my wife and I an opportunity. We decided that my first year as an author had gone really well, and that it was worth making some life changes to allow me to go full time, and I did. A lot of the skills that I developed as a software guy have paid huge dividends for me, such as being able to strategically think, to look at the end result and figure out how I might get there, and being able to work really damn fast and well.
Can you tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it? What inspired you to choose those images?
The initial cover we had when we launched at CalgaryExpo 2014 wasn’t what everyone’s used to seeing. We listened to the feedback from the potential readers and customers. We were then faced with a decision, do we seek out someone who can create the cover that we really want, or do we keep going with what we have? That’s when we found Xia Taptara, and he’s been doing the amazing covers ever since.
For each of the covers, I’ll send Xia an idea or two, capturing a particularly moment or feeling of the book, and he’ll send me back a few concepts. They always blow me away.
When I look back at the novel I’ve written, I find bits and pieces of my own life that have made it in to my work. Can you share with us a bit of your life that has made it in to your stories?
Wow, there are several. The map itself is littered with several. But probably the one that is absolutely the most personal is Mounira and dealing with her pain in book two. I went through 15 months of horrible scar tissue pain years ago, which was improved to became liveable chronic pain. I understand what it is to have hot, raw pain that wants to consume you. I know how it can eat away at who you are, what you want and more. And putting that into an eleven year old kid, someone who was so filled with joy and innocence, I wanted to walk with her through that journey of taking the demon that was pain and absorbing it, making it a strength rather than her enemy. I have a lot planned for her in the future, I hope I get to go there with her.
Other than being able to write books at a fantastically fast pace, do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I really miss table top role-playing, but when I’ve tried to return to it, the complexity isn’t there for me. I played a miniatures game called Heroclix for a while and miss it too, I don’t have the time or friends to play it with these days.
As for unique talents? I’m told listening is one, and my style of writing is another. But then again, what do I know?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
There’s nothing as empowering as taking that risk for a dream, stepping off that cliff and seeing if you can fly. It’s terrifying and exhilarating, but more than anything, it reminds us that our ideas are worthy and powerful.