Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Author Interview - James D. Adams

Children's author, James D. Adams guest author post yesterday provided a glimpse into what inspires him to write and now please join me in this fascinating interview. You will surely be impressed by his writing talent and his outreach program of giving back to the writers’ and arts community.

Donna McDine: When did you decide you wanted to become an author? Do you have another job besides writing?

John D. Adams: I have been making up stories since I was about 4 years old. I used to draw comic books when I was 7, so really for my whole life. I even wrote a play in the 7th grade and we produced it. I used to work for Scholastic Books, but right now I am only writing, speaking at schools for a fee, touring libraries, festivals, book stores, anyone who will have me. I will also be contributing to a new on-line creative community with tips and how to’s and resources for writers, musicians, actors, comedians, etc., and on-going contests where people can get published. It’s kind of a link between new artists, established artists, the businesses that support and sell artistic products, and those who love the arts. It’s just launching this week, so I urge everyone to get involved with it, to tell their friends. This is the first place to know about it officially. The bulk of information is still be added over the next few weeks, but the first contests and anthology call for entries are running starting July 9th. http://www.owlcreekartscenter.com

DMc: Whom or what gave you the encouragement to become a writer?

JA: My mother always encouraged me, as did my Grandfather Fred Adams. My wife has also supported my dream over the years. I had a few teachers in school too, mainly Mrs. Linda Alexander. People like Bruce Springsteen, Oprah Winfrey, and Stephen King also inspire me. They all started out very normal and with plenty of obstacles in their paths, yet they pushed on. Now it appears we’re going to have a president who had many tough hurdles to overcome, regardless of which one of them wins.

DMc: Please describe your creative process. Do you work with an outline or is it a stream of writing directly from your thoughts (or in some writers’ cases your sub-conscious mind while sleeping)?

JA: I have awoken with a complete story idea a few times. I am a big outliner, more so on a novel than a short story. A short story like the ones in Creepy Campfire Tales is usually just a plot idea, from one paragraph to a page. I figure out where I should start, then start writing. The editing process takes 3 times longer than the first draft. In a novel, I may have 60 pages of outlines. But the truth is, those outlines change almost the moment I start writing. I let the characters come to life, that often changes the outline, but I feel it is a good place to start to get an idea of where you’re going. I basically use mind maps now to initially get my ideas down, and premise. What am I trying to say, what overall feeling do I want to leave the reader with? With this one answer, I seldom lose my way now. I highly recommend the books by James Frey “How To Write A Damn Good NoveL” 1 & 2.

DMc: Where do you get your ideas for your books?

JA: We have a little pawn shop here in town where used ideas are pretty cheap. Seriously, I’d have to say overall that’s a mystery to me really. The initial story spark starts like “what if 3 guys saw a strange campfire in the woods and went to see what it was?” I get a situation in my mind, then I start answering questions, like “who would be at the fire? Anyone? What could happen? Why is there a fire?” and the next thing I know I have “Campfire In The Dark Woods” in Creepy Campfire Tales Volume 1. I always insist my tale make sense and that they are realistic. 3 teenagers out strolling around at night would go check out something like this, a 60 year old go on his way to the showers probably would not, so Bam, I have my characters general make up.

DMc: From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

JA: About 6 months. I started writing down story ideas that centered around campgrounds and campfires. So in some ways, there was a deliberate creative process, in that I forced myself to imagine scenarios around campgrounds. Now I have 3 more books in the works. The writing took a few weeks, the editing a couple months.

DMc: What has been the most memorable experience in your writing career?

JA: wSpeaking at a school and having over 200 kids give me drawings that featured their take on the “theme” of my book. It really caught me off guard and touched me in an unexpected way. To see kids drawing and writing about characters I created for “Hopper’s Pond” gave me a reward much greater than any money ever could. When you’ve struggled so long, to have such acceptance and appreciation is really humbling and thrilling. Signing that first autograph was like taming lightning too. Seeing my book on Amazon.com was pretty mind blowing as well, but the gift those kids gave me was the greatest. I still have every one of their drawings and always will.

DMc: What kind of obstacles have you experienced as a writer?

JA: Being taken seriously in my hometown. I got newspaper coverage, but out of town writers get it bigger, better, and on the front page. I have done as many as 3 author visits in one county about 40 miles away, but none in the one I live in. I had one local school book me for an author visit, then cancel a few days before the day because they decided to hire a guy who walks everywhere. Seriously. Their school has some pretty bad literacy scores but they brought in a guy who walks everywhere instead of a writer as he was $200 cheaper. Sure he was, he doesn’t have a book in book stores. I wouldn’t have felt so bad had they hired another writer even, but there is just not a lot of respect given to the arts in Southern Ohio. So I held this date for them, then they just casually cancel it. That kind of stuff is hard, especially when you buy a certain number of books to cover all your visits. I’m still sitting on Paint Valley’s books in July. That’s why I thought doing this art center thing was important. Artists need community, they need a support system. I have since instituted a cancel fee and a no dates held without a signed contract policy. You hate to be like that, but when your hometown schools are so casual about canceling, you have to start being more like a business. I had one, whom I knew very well, who had me booked for 5 months, then I called to finalize the details about 2 weeks before the event, and she cancelled. Why hadn’t she called me sooner or at all? Most are not like this however, but it’s a good idea to have a contract if any of your readers plan on doing this type of work. Then you have an event like the one mentioned above or like in Greenfield where the librarian decorates the halls with stuff from your book and they treat you like royalty and it makes the tough times worth it.

DMc: Please share with us your current writing project.

JA: Rockwell New Hampshire will be a series about a family in a Mayberry type town and will feature many great stories focusing on the importance of community and trying to live a sustainable life. The first books are probably 9 months or so away. I’m also working on more Creepy Campfire Tales.

DMc: What would you be if you were not a writer?

JA: I’d like to make movies and have a T.V. show. I was once a musician, but being married with 2 kids now makes that kind of impractical. I enjoy my family too much to be away from them that much.

DMc: What do you do when you’re not writing?

JA: Spend time with my kids and wife mostly. They love the outdoors as much as I do, so we take walks a few times a day. I probably walk more than that guy Paint Valley hire, I just don’t try to get people to pay me to talk about it. LOL. I love reading as well, these days mostly about writing and marketing your work. But family is what it’s all about for me. They give me all the inspiration I need.

To learn more about James please visit any one (or all) of the below websites:

Internationally published Author of Creepy Campfire Tales, Hopper's Pond, & The upcoming Dark Valley Ohio Novel Series and October 31st Poems and Stories.

http://www.jamesdadams.com/ for complete media kit, to learn more about upcoming releases, join the nightfire fan club, or to book an author visit.

http://www.creepycampfiretales.com/ to order books and learn more about this hit series.

http://www.owlcreekmedia.com/ to place wholesale orders for campground stores, gift stores, haunted attractions, or book stores.

www.myspace.com/jamesdadamsauthor visit my space for forums and chat. Invite me as a friend and we'll grow a community together.

Visit here to see all my talked about videos, book trailers, interviews, readings, and sneak peeks at future titles. Many are finding this more entertaining than TV.

Buy Creepy on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Creepy-Campfire-Tales-Vol-Halloween/dp/160404103X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1204650151&sr=8-1
Any good reviews are appreciated and prizes are awarded for the best reviews each year. Also available at Barnes & Noble and your local bookstore, and in bookstores and on Amazon in the U.K.


  1. A great interview, Donna.

    James, I know what you're saying about your hometown. The schools where I taught for many years won't invite me to visit, though I've given them copies of my books. Ah, well. That's life.

    Your books sound super.


  2. Hi James...it's been a delight to host you the last two days. I've been lucky with my school visits so far. One at a middle school in the next school district and another visit with an elementary school in my district to get a 4th grade class involved in the Kids Reviews program with Musing Our Children.

    Looking forward to reading your book.

    Warm regards,

  3. Wow! This interview has normalized the writer's creative life for me. Thank you for sharing how your creative mind works and how you organize your thoughts to a published work.

    Promoting barriers are out there for everyone, but the personal contact rewards are far worth the extra efforts it takes to knock out the roadblocks.

    Thank you for the great interview Donna and James!

    Blessings to you in your future writing,

  4. Very nice interview. He is interesting and inspiring. Thanks for the information.



  5. Donna and James,

    Thanks for some great information. The online community looks great- that will be one night of web surfing when I'm looking to procrastinate!

    Loved hearing about your creative process and the questions you ask yourself putting together your story.

    Very inspiring!


Thank for you taking the time out to visit with me and to learn about my writing career.

Please be sure to leave your blog address so I can reciprocate.

I look forward to visiting you too.