D. A. Adams is a novelist, a farmer and a professor of English. The fourth instalment of his fantasy series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, has recently been released by Seventh Star Press. I got a chance to interview Adams as part of the blog tour organised to celebrate the release of Between Dark & Light. I hope that you enjoy this insight into the life of a fantasy author. Please have a look at some of the other posts in the blog tour.
Tells us about your novel.
Between Dark and Light is book four of The Brotherhood of Dwarves series. The central story revolves around a half-dwarf/half-elf named Roskin who is heir to the Kiredurk kingdom. These dwarves live in a remote region with no natural enemies. As such, for centuries, they have focused on art, music, and poetry instead of warfare. They aren’t the stereotypical dwarven race. However, Roskin is young and adventurous and leaves the safety of his kingdom in search of excitement. The series follows what happens to him as he becomes enthralled in the trappings of the larger world and learns that war has come to his kingdom’s doorstep.
What first inspired you to start writing?
In 1989, I was a junior in high school and had plans to become an officer in the Marine Corps. On March 7 of that year, I suffered a serious head injury during shot-put practice, which in effect ended that aspiration. I endured a lengthy depression from the combination of the injury and the loss, and during my therapy I discovered poetry as an outlet for all of it. As I wrote more and more, I realized that I had always loved storytelling and gradually moved from poetry to fiction. It’s a good thing, too, because I was a dreadful poet. At the time, I viewed the accident as something that took away from my life, but now, with a little maturity and wisdom, I see it more as a blessing that led me to self-discovery.
What is your best piece of advice for aspiring authors?
I can’t limit it to one singular piece of advice. First and foremost, read other people’s works and study what came before you. Learn what’s proven to work. Next, don’t just read fiction. Nonfiction can nourish your mind and provide you with invaluable nuggets of information that can strengthen your narrative. Also, get out of the books and live, too. Life and experiences can often be the best teachers. While reading is important, so is observing the real world, real people, real circumstances. I can’t stress enough how important tangible experiences can be for a writer. Finally, let go of your fears of failure, humiliation, and judgement and write what’s authentic to you and your experience. Create works that live up to your highest standards and resonate with you and don’t worry about those who criticize your efforts. There will always be people who want to tear you down. Your job as an author is to be as authentic as possible to your own creative energy, not to satisfy those who can’t be satisfied.
What qualities do you think are needed to be a successful published author?
Perseverance, patience, discipline, and faith, in no particular order. Authors face much more rejection and criticism than success and praise, even highly successful ones. Also, I think we each must define success for ourselves and not measure our efforts against others. I’m highly competitive by nature, so I struggle with this one, but as I’ve matured, I’ve learned that all I can control is the quality of what I produce. Everything else is in the hands of others to some degree. For me, as long as each book I write is better than the one before and lives up to my standards, I’ve been successful.
What would you say is the most enjoyable aspect of writing?
The act of discovery that takes place during creation. My characters always find a way to surprise me, and that’s what keeps me coming back night after night, to learn what they are going to do.
What is the one moment in your career that you feel most proud of?
Being accepted as a guest to Dragon*Con in 2009. At that point, I was still a self-published, mostly unknown author, so I got into that show based on the quality of my work and my reputation from other cons. I didn’t have deep connections, like a publisher or an agent, pulling strings on my behalf, so I feel highly honored that I received guest status for one of the largest, most competitive shows in all of fandom.
If you could change just one thing about the publishing industry, what would it be?
The chokehold the big six have on marketing and advertising. Their deep, deep pockets and multitude of media outlets associated with their conglomerates make it extremely difficult for the rest of us to get noticed. There’s no easy way to fix that, but if I had a magic wand, that’s the first thing I’d change.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In 1994, when I received my first rejection letter. I remember so vividly sending off that first manuscript, standing at the post office with the manilla envelope in my hand, feeling the trepidation of mailing it to a real editor for consideration, listening to the solid thump as it landed in the bin, and then waiting six weeks for a response. I got a form slip, not enough to count as a letter really. It stung, of course, but I tacked that slip to my wall by my writing desk and went back to work. That’s when I felt like a real writer, and I received 35 or 36 more rejections before publishing my first short story.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Without a doubt, Harry Crews. I met him when I was in college in 92 or 93. We came from similar socioeconomic backgrounds, and the fact that he was a thriving author with a fairly large following inspired me more than I can tell you. If he could make it, coming from rural Georgia, I felt like I could, too, coming from rural East Tennessee. After meeting him, I went on to read most of his books. He wrote Southern Gothic dark humor, and I loved his style. More than any other individual, he was my mentor.
What are your current projects?
I just finished a short story for a Sword and Sorcery anthology my publisher will be releasing later this year. It’s a tie-in to my series and tells more of the back story to one of the major characters. I’m currently working on another story, closer to a novella, for a small anthology a colleague invited me to join. It’s also a tie-in to the series and gives some back story to Roskin’s father. As soon as I finish that piece, I’ll start a Weird Western for a project I’m working on with the Outlaws of Fiction. Then, I’ll dive into book five, the final instalment of Brotherhood.
D. A. Adams is a novelist, a farmer, a professor of English, and in my estimation, a true gentleman. His breakout fantasy series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, transcends genre and illuminates the human soul in all its flashes of glory and innumerable failings.
He is active on the Con circuit and has contributed writing to literary as well as fine art publications, and maintains his active blog, “The Ramblings of D. A. Adams”. He lives and works in East Tennessee, and is the proud father of two boys, Collin and Finn.
His ability as a storyteller breathes life into every character, and his craftsmanship as a writer makes these stories about relationships; human or otherwise.
D.A. Adams Links:
The stakes are higher than ever in the fourth instalment of the popular dwarven saga!
The Great Empire has surrounded the Kiredurks and are preparing to conquer the kingdom, but unknown to them, Kwarck, the mysterious hermit of the plains, has his own plan in action. To the east, he has summoned an elven army and charged Crushaw with leading them into battle. To the south, Roskin will gather an army from the fractured Ghaldeon lands. But to the west, an ancient and powerful evil stirs.
The Great War is about to errupt, if Roskin can overcome the Dark One…
Seventh Star Press Links