Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Dwarves are back in town!

Very exciting news! D.A. Adams, the author of "The Brotherhood of the Dwarves" and "Red Sky at Dawn" has announced the third book in the series will soon be released from Seventh Star Press. "The Fall of Dorkhun" (pictured) is now available for pre-order! Having read the first two books in the series, I heartily recommend the series to any fan of fantasy, dwarves or just well-written action stories.

D.A.was nice enough to sit down with me and discuss the book at length. We also discussed life, the writing craft and the future of the Dwarves.

Heres the full interview:
First of all D.A, congratulations on joining Seventh Star Press. It’s really exciting to see the third book in the Brotherhood of the Dwarves series.

1.     Does this mean the end of Third Axe Media

Honestly, I’m not sure.  I have a couple of projects that I’ve considered pursuing on the side, like maybe a collection of my favorite blog entries, but at this point, nothing is concrete.  For now, all of my energy is focused on promoting the new book and getting more exposure for the series.  Launching and running Third Axe is one of the best experiences of my life, but at this point, I’m not sure what its future will be.

2.     How did the partnership with Seventh Star come about?

I felt like I had gone as far as I could as an independent, so I started  shopping for a publisher.  I know several of the folks at SSP from the con circuit, so I sent them a query letter.  They were familiar with my work, so we negotiated a deal over a month or so.  It’s one of the best decisions of my career, and I hope one day, they’ll look back and say it was one of their best, too.

3.     What inspired you to write your first book?

This might be a long-winded answer, but back around 2002, I had pretty much given up on writing.  Then, watching The Two Towers, I realized that I really wanted to write fantasy.  It had been the reason why I’d gotten into writing to begin with.  But my confidence was fairly fragile, so I didn’t immediately start writing.  At first, I just thought about what kind of story I would want to write.  Then, I started jotting down notes.  Pages and pages of notes.  I built the world, considered the characters, thought about the races I would use.  I probably did that for close to a year, still with no plan to write anything.

Then, I saw my first son’s heartbeat on an ultrasound.  As I watched that little speck fluttering away on the grainy screen, something came alive in me that had been dormant for many years.  I knew I was a writer and that if I was going to be a good father, I had to be true to myself.  That meant writing this story, so I went to work and haven’t looked back.

4.     What do you consider to be the strengths of your writing?

Primarily, narrative voice.  The flow of the voice as it carries the reader through the story.  Secondly, probably pacing and tension.  I try to create a fast-paced plot that keeps readers turning pages and needing to know what happens next.  Thirdly, character development.  I want my characters to come across as real people, regardless of race or gender.

5.     Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That materialism and thirst for power are empty vessels.  Relationships and people are what make life meaningful and fulfilling.

6.     The characters in your books are very well established. Are they based on someone you know?

I do draw on real life as part of my creative process, but these characters are individuals, as real to me as you are.  They speak to me while I’m writing and guide the story where it’s supposed to go.  That may sound odd to non-writers, but I believe most writers know what I mean.

7.     What books have most influenced your life most? I see the ones on your website. Any others?

Anything by Harry Crews had a profound effect on me in my early 20’s.  Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  Hemingway’s short stories.  V. S. Pritchett’s, too.  I devoured those works and strove to learn how they crafted their stories so perfectly.

8.     What book are you reading now?

Unfortunately, I don’t get to read nearly as much as I’d like.  I’m pretty well limited to the works I teach for my composition classes and student essays.  I hope when I can leave education I can get back to reading things I love because I miss it dearly.

9.     Any future plans for the Dwarves? Other projects?

After books four and five, I’ll probably retire this franchise.  I have the story in my head, and it’s complete, so I don’t see myself writing any more about these characters beyond that.  But one never knows.  They may surprise me later.

10.  Have you ever considered writing in another genre in addition to your fantasy work?

Absolutely.  I have a tentative outline for a futuristic/trans-human/urban fantasy after this series.  It’s still early, but the main character is tugging at my coat and getting impatient waiting his turn.

11.  Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I always loved reading and language, as far back as I can remember.  I first became conscious of my penchant for writing in high school while working on the school paper.  Then, like everyone, I started writing crappy poetry.  As I learned more about the craft, I realized fiction is my bailiwick, and really, novels are all I’m truly geared for.  Anything less than 60,000 words, and I’m just lost.

12.  What do you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Time.  The unfortunate reality of work prohibits me from devoting myself full-time to writing.  I envy the folks who get to write all the time, and again, when I am able to leave education, I hope to become much more productive as a novelist.

13.  Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Harry Crews.  We grew up in similar circumstances, although his childhood was much tougher than mine, but there’s a grittiness and verisimilitude to his work that speaks to me on a very personal level.

14.  Who designed the cover for Fall of Dorkuhn? It is really engaging.

Bonnie Wasson.  She’s fantastic, isn’t she?  SSP hired her specifically for this series, and I’m so grateful for her efforts.  Just wait until you see the new cover for book one.  It’s gorgeous.

15.   What have you learned from writing a series versus writing a single novel?

From day one, I saw this as a five book series, so I never really looked at it as one novel, but having now created the first three books, I can say that each book is its own challenge.  Keeping the story fresh and avoiding too much repetition are the hardest, and then remembering minute details over long periods is challenging.  I find myself referring back to the earlier books often to make sure I get the details right.  On top of that, each book has to have its own arc that fits into the overall plot.  That’s difficult to create, at least for me.

16.   Do you have any advice for other writers?

First and foremost, listen to your inner voice.  Trust your instincts and believe in your own creative energy.  Then, and while this may sound contradictory, find an editor you trust and listen to their advice.  Don’t be so arrogant as to believe everything you write is golden.  Good editors turn good novels into great ones.  So listen to yourself, but listen to advice, too.

17.   Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Please forgive me for the slow process of bringing these books to market.  Life has thrown many obstacles in my path, and I’ve had to fight through a lot of difficulties to finish the first three books.  I hope you’ll find the story worth the wait.

18.   What were some challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the book to life?

Where do I begin?  The research is not too tedious because I enjoy learning, and I like to research along the way, kind of like the Just-In-Time model in manufacturing.  The literary side has been the focus of my personal education for my entire life, so it’s really just a part of who I am as an individual.  The psychological has been the most difficult.  As an independent, I faced a lot of criticism and outright snobbery from many in the field.  Many, many, many times, I have felt like a complete failure because of sluggish sales or no sales.  I have honestly contemplated giving up more than I care to admit.  But then, a reader will tell me that they enjoyed the books and can’t wait for the next, and that reaffirms my faith.  It’s hard to press on through the rough patches, but I’m a stubborn Scots-Irish hillbilly, and we don’t quit easily.

Logistically, I’ll only refer to book three for time and simplicity’s sake.  I started the manuscript four years ago, and about a chapter and a half in, my ex-wife told me on Christmas Day that she wanted a divorce.  It was a cruel blow.  In my heart, I knew our relationship was dead, but I love my children with all my soul.  Losing my boys nearly broke me.  For a year and a half, the book sat untouched while I crawled up from those depths.  When I finally got to a point emotionally where I could focus on writing again, my teaching load hindered getting to focus for extended stretches.  Finally, about a year and a half ago, I met an amazing woman, someone who saw beyond the battered outer shell and believed in me not just as a writer but as a man.  Her love and support and encouragement are what gave me the strength to finish the book and polish it into something that I’m quite proud of.  I hope she knows just how much I love her and am indebted to her for that.

Education is very important, and you have a high degree of education (Masters in Writing) and you teach college level English. How critical has your education been to your writing? Could writers with less education still be successful if they use the right editors?

Most importantly, let me say that the biggest regret of my life is going to graduate school for writing.  It killed my creative spirit.  It’s why in 2002 I had given up on writing.  I don’t believe writers need graduate level education to become professionals.  What they need more importantly are a thirst for knowledge, a creative drive, and the work ethic to practice their craft.  I believe in education, but formal schooling is not always the best path to becoming educated.  I’ve learned far more about the craft of writing from reading on my own, practicing with my prose, and talking to other writers than I did in graduate school.  I realize that many of my colleagues at the college may bristle at that answer, but it’s the truth.  Creativity and ingenuity are not cultivated in formal academic settings.

Thank you for the excellent questions.  I hope everyone enjoys reading the answers as much as I enjoyed answering them.

Thanks to D.A. for answering all of our questions, and more importantly for bringing these Dwarves to life.

In addition to his writing, D.A. keeps a really engaging blog where he posts on various topics. Check out the blog and join the conversation!

Go pre-order "Fall of Dorkuhn" and get a limited edition hardover! If you are new to the series, then there's no reason to wait. You can get started with "Brotherhood of the Dwarves."

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic interview, D.A. has been wonderful to work with and I encourage everyone to consider the limited edition hardcover of The Fall of Dorkhun. It is D.A.'s first hardcover edition of one of his books, and it also represents the debut of fantasy artist Bonnie Wasson with SSP.