D. A. Adams interview (March 2012)
D. A. Adams was born in Florida and raised in East Tennessee. He received a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of Memphis in 1999 and has taught college English for over a decade. His first novel, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, was released in 2005. In 2008, the sequel, Red Sky at Dawn, was released and this was followed by The Fall of Dorkhun this year.
Daniel Cann caught up with him in March 2012 to talk about his work and inspirations.
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself?
First, I don’t really fit into any pigeonholes as a person. I’m a hillbilly from rural East Tennessee, but I’m also relatively well-educated and can appreciate a well-composed symphony as well as an American football game. I love attending conventions and meeting readers or fellow authors, but I’m just as content working on my family’s 27 acres and getting muddy as hell. I’m equal parts responsible father and mischievous rascal.
So far, I’ve been rather unlucky romantically, but I’m taking the time right now to look at myself and figure out what I need to do to become a better partner, whatever that may mean. Overall, I think I’m a fairly decent person, but I recognize I still have much maturity and wisdom to gain.
Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
In 1989, I had a traumatic head injury from a freak accident during track practice. Until that point, most of my focus had been on athletics, and my goal was to become an officer in the United States Marine Corps. The accident ended those dreams and forced me to focus more on my intellectual development. Fortunately, I didn’t suffer any serious long-term effects from the injury, and through the process of working through my grief, I discovered writing as an outlet for my emotions. I also realized that I had always enjoyed creating stories, so I made the decision to become a writer and have been working in this industry, on some level, for 22 years.
What authors inspire you?
Harry Crews is one of my biggest inspirations. He and I come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, and I had the opportunity to meet him while in college. We talked for about an hour about everything from chopping wood to football to writing, and that conversation changed my life. His writing also speaks to me on a deep level. There’s a realism and a grit to his work that reaches me on a primal level.
Ernest Hemingway is another. I love the minimalist style but also the lyrical quality to his voice. You have to read him aloud to hear the cadence, but it’s akin to the King James Version of the Bible. Those two writers are probably the ones I most aspired to emulate when younger, but I’ve grown enough as a writer that I feel like I’ve found my own voice and style, now.
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
Take the time to hone your craft. Don’t expect overnight success. Trust your creative voice, but listen to what editors tell you. Expect disappointment, but don’t give up because of it. Most importantly, produce something every day to sharpen your skills. You don’t have to write 10 pages a day. If you can produce 1-2 pages each day, you will have a pretty decent book in less than a year.
How many hours a day do you actually spend writing?
When I’m working on a novel, I like to write for 2-3 hours a day for 5-6 days a week. I always try to have one day for rest to avoid burnout. I also try to write 4-5 blog entries a week on whatever topic appeals to me that particular day.
Who is your favourite fictional character?
Probably Ignatius Reilly from ‘A Confederacy of Dunces.’ That’s one of the most comedic yet most tragic books I’ve ever read, and Ignatius is one of most clearly wrought out characters I’ve ever encountered.
Your series ‘The Brotherhood of Dwarves’ while set in a fantasy world tackles some very human issues like taking responsibility and growing up, how important do you think it is for readers to go through a journey with your characters?
I purposefully set out to write the series for both male and female readers between roughly 13-21. I feel there is a hole in the market for well-written, heroic fiction with a positive message for this demographic.
I’ve not read everything on the market targeted to this group, but most of what I have read is either purple prose, or bubble gum, or condescending.
I wanted to have something for my sons when they reach that age range which will help them feel as if they can surmount any challenge. I wanted to create a heroic tale that also illustrates how relationships and camaraderie can trump materialism and greed. The world, especially America, needs that message today. I hope at least a few people gleam that from the series.
Which character/s from ‘The Brotherhood of Dwarves’ do you identify with the most and why?
Probably Crushaw, maybe Leinjar, because of all the obstacles I’ve had to overcome in my life and career. I’m certain much of the depth to those characters comes from my personal experiences.
What can your fans expect from you in the future?
Books four and five in this series, and after that I have an idea for either a one book story or possibly another series. Right now, it feels like one book, but as you know, these things have a way of mushrooming. I may also dabble with a few short stories here and there, just to produce more work. Also, I’ll keep blogging. That’s one of my favourite outlets for my everyday life and my twisted sense of humour.
Do you have any other hobbies outside of writing?
Mostly just working on the land and tinkering around my place. I love working outdoors and connecting with my primal self. I love feeling dirt on my skin and sweat in my hair, and one of my long-term goals is to farm at least part-time. My family’s land has sat fallow for a couple of generations and needs a lot of work to get where it needs to be to farm again, but working on that refuels my creative energy. Like I said, I’m a hillbilly or maybe a mountain man.
What do you hope to achieve as a writer?
When I was young and naive, I hoped for wealth and fame. Now, I’m content with producing quality entertainment that also contains a healthy message. I’ve learned that I’m a simple man and have simple tastes. I don’t need wealth to be happy, so I try to focus on the quality of my work. I feel like I’ve improved with each book, so as long as that continues, I’ll be happy with my career.