Sam, first of all, thank you so much for accepting to participate to the interview. I must confess that a few days ago all I knew about you was that you published short stories via your blog. But the more I dug, the more I discovered an incredible depth to Mr. Adamson!
Thank you kindly, Elizabeth. You do know flattery like that will get you anywhere, right? <grins and winks>
Well, I, err…I don’t really like talking about myself much, I prefer to let my stories speak for me, but since it’s you asking…
Creative writing was the only thing I really enjoyed at school, and thankfully I wasn’t half bad at it, so I’m told, but once I left school I drifted away from writing, I couldn’t really make time for it as I had to concentrate instead on such mundane pastimes as making a living and keeping a roof over my head. I did keep up with the role-playing games from my misspent youth for a while, but even they fell by the wayside eventually.
By the way, role-playing games are, in my opinion, an excellent source of inspiration for writers, and are really good at teaching you character development, plotting and how to use your imagination; I’m not talking here about computer games, what I mean by role-playing games are the good old tabletop, pen and paper variety – the one everyone seems to have heard of is Dungeons and Dragons, not that it was a game I played much.
I also enjoy a good book. I must confess to being a fan of the Harry Potter novels; you’ll notice I said “novels” there, not the movies. And I also have a copy of Neil Gaiman’s “Neverwhere” sitting on my bookshelf, though the urban fantasy novel that has excited me most recently is Mike Shevdon’s “Sixty-One Nails.” I picked it up cheap on a whim and lost a whole weekend reading both it and the sequel, “The Road To Bedlam.”
My first experience of fantasy writing was way back when I was still in short trousers and a particularly enlightened English teacher read us “The Hobbit” during English lessons. I was hooked and have read fantasy on and off ever since. One of my favourite fantasy novels is Mary Gentle’s “Grunts!” and I’m awaiting the release next month of Elspeth Cooper’s debut novel, “Songs of the Earth” with great interest.
I don’t read horror, which might seem a bit strange as I write about vampires, though I have become quite interested in Dystopian fiction recently and am looking forward to getting my hands on Emma Newman’s forthcoming novel, “20 Years Later” when it’s released in July.
And, if you don’t mind me squeezing in one last recommendation, I’ve enjoyed reading some Brit Crime noir lately, most notably Julie Morrigan’s debut eBook novel, “Convictions.”
It was a chance conversation on Twitter, about candy corn of all things, that got me scribbling again (some people have a lot to answer for!), I posted a story to #FridayFlash, largely to prove to a writer friend that no-one would want to read my stuff, but there were comments, nice ones, so I did it again and the rest, as they say, is history.
As for future plans… <taps the side of his nose conspiratorially> All I can really say at present is that I have a few new projects in the works about which I am quietly excited, and that the word “novel” has been mentioned; the words “five figure advance” on the other hand, haven’t been mentioned yet, but if anyone feels so inclined… <waves> I’m over here.
Great! So, Sam, you are obviously a very prolific writer. A quick glance at your blog will send readers on many different trails, all depending on their taste. You have dipped into Fantasy, Romance, Paranormal… Out of those, which is your favourite genre – and why?
Well, I don’t know about “prolific” exactly, but yes, I have posted a fair few stories since 2009 and I have dabbled in a few genres, feel free to add horror, noir and sci-fi to the list (some of which are written but not posted yet)…still trying to find my feet I guess. <shrugs>
The genre that excites me the most at the moment is Urban Fantasy, and preferably fairly dark urban fantasy at that. I just like the idea of there being aspects to our normal everyday world that people simply don’t notice. I’m not talking vampires and werewolves here, for me they’re part of the horror genre. The sort of thing I’m talking about is, for example, witches, demons and other such creatures living hidden in plain sight among us, or fairies, pixies and gnomes that bear little if any resemblance to those cute creatures you find gracing the pages of small children’s story books. I suppose my flash fiction serial, The UCF (Urban Combat Fairies) Stories falls into the category of Urban Fantasy.
I’ve also dabbled with historical fiction, my Dark Ages story, “Driftwood” gained an Honourable Mention in Laurita Miller’s Seaside Fiction contest last year, and with zombies, my zombie love story, “For the Love of Mike” was awarded The Honourable Mention award after winning the readers’ poll in Mari Juniper’s Zombieluv contest, again, last year.
In the same line of thought, I’d love to hear about your different writing projects (UCF, #FridayFlash, etc) how/if they all tie in together and maybe what makes them all unique in their own way to readers?
I’ve mentioned how I was introduced to #FridayFlash by a very good writer friend of mine, who encouraged me ceaselessly until I submitted a story. The lovely and encouraging comments made on that story inspired me to post another, and another, which eventually lead to…
My Flash Fiction serial, the UCF Stories, was originally meant only to be a one-shot, light-hearted story posted around Christmas time, but the Pixies managed to get inside my brain and, to be honest, they’ve never left; I just wish they’d run a duster around the place from time to time. After some 36 episodes, a Christmas Special and a one-off story, The UCF Stories is on temporary hiatus just now but Swazzle, Pogmorton and the rest of the gang will be returning fairly soon.
The stories feature gun-toting fairies, pixies with devilish senses of humour, a small Welsh dragon who is completely untrainable and gnomes with a steampunk edge to them. There have been kidnappings, murders, prison breaks and “modifications” made to a certain Yuletide gentleman’s sleigh. One of the comments that keeps coming in from readers is that they enjoy the stories because they’re never black and white, more like shades of grey. Each faction has its own agenda and it’s not always easy to work out who the bad guys really are in any given situation.
Currently I’m having great fun writing a vampire character who is a little different from many other examples of his genre. For a start, he’s Northern…that’s Northern UK, and he has a wickedly dry sense of humour. My readers tell me he is also not very nice when he’s angry. There’s a bit of a noir edge to my Northern Vampire Tales, which also makes them different, and most of the stories revolve around the seedier elements of a well-known Northern city.
And then of course, there’s my work on The Great Chocolate Conspiracy. Again, this was inspired by a chance conversation with my good friend and fellow writer, Monica Marier, who was bemoaning the fact a while ago on Twitter that a certain famous variety of UK biscuit (Ed: cookie for our US readers) was no longer available in her local US food stores. “it’s a conspiracy!” says I, and the blog tour was born. We put a call out on Twitter and with a few hours had a total of fifteen authors, including ourselves, working on the project; a true example of crowd-sourced collaborative fiction. We’re in the process of compiling all the episodes into an ebook, which should be available shortly.
I don’t think my various projects necessarily tie in together, other than because I wrote them, but there are a few elements that do occasionally colour my approach to other stories and each is very distinct from the others. The novel I mentioned earlier is very different again to the other stuff I’ve written and I would tell you more about it, but then I’d have to send the Pixies round to keep you quiet!
In addition to posting a lot of your stories online, you have also had a few published and available on Amazon. Please tell us more about those stories, and why they are special to you and found their way into those beautiful anthologies.
My first print publication, and one that will always be very dear to me, was in Jon Strother’s “Best of Friday Flash vol 1”…out now at Amazon and other good online book retailers…<cough> end commercial. My story, “Twist In The Tale,” the story of a cat possessed by the spirit of an ancient Egyptian statue, features in that anthology. This is one of my earlier stories and it was a joy to write, the words just seemed to flow out of my pen and if I recall correctly, it was written in little over an hour. “Best of Friday Flash vol 1” is also available in eBook format… (Ed: Sam, will you quit it with the commercials?!) …err, okay. <grins>
I also had a 101 word story published in Michael J Solender’s “Dog Days Of Summer” eBook anthology, which is available to download from Michael’s site. Again, when I saw Michael’s prompt, a character jumped into my head and began speaking…picture a man from an organised crime family who wakes up in Hell, initially unaware that he has died and taken the down elevator instead of the up one he was expecting.
And then there’s my involvement with Jodi Cleghorn’s Literary Mix Tapes anthologies project. My noir story, “’Tis the Season to be Jolly,” the story of a delivery driver having a really, really bad day in the run up to Christmas appears in the “Deck The Halls” anthology released last Christmas, and my story “Daisy’s Café” was accepted for the “Nothing But Flowers” anthology, which at the time of writing is sitting in the #1 spot in the anthologies category on Amazon UK, speaking of which…
This leads me to a question that have been burning the tip of my
tongue fingers: I would love – LOVE – love to hear about your charitable projects and the two books presently on Amazon that people can buy to support charitable and relief efforts.
…if you don’t mind, I’ll return to Nothing But Flowers in a moment, but right now I’d like to tell you a little about 100 Stories for Queensland, which features my flash fiction story, “Kittens!”
You may remember back in January, the Australian state of Queensland was devastated by flooding. Shortly thereafter, Jodi Cleghorn, a resident of the state and Trevor Belshaw, a fellow UK writer, proposed an anthology project in support of those affected by the floods. Many wonderful people, authors, editors, beta readers, offered their time and stories to help with the project and my story was one of those lucky enough to be accepted for the anthology.
100 Stories for Queensland has something for everyone, with stories in a number of genres, including literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, romance, fantasy, humour, paranormal and slice of life. The stories were penned by an international contingent of writers. A quarter of the stories came from Australia, a third from the UK and the rest from across the globe including the USA, Spain, France, Austria, Malaysia, Israel, Greece and Canada.
Money from the sale of the book goes to The Queensland Premier’s Flood Relief Fund. 100% of the sale price of the eBook is donated. 100% of the wholesale price (less printing costs) of the paperback is donated.
Now then, where was I? Oh yes, Nothing But Flowers…
Inspired by the Talking Heads song of the same name, the Nothing But Flowers anthology is a collection of twenty-five short stories all focussed around the premise of love in a post-apocalyptic setting. Each author selected a line from the song, or took the whole song as their inspiration to produce a story. Edited by Jodi Cleghorn, all profits from the sale of this anthology go to The Grantham Flood Support Fund (Queensland, Australia).
Both 100 Stories for Queensland and Nothing But Flowers are also available in eBook format too… (Ed: Sam! What did I say…) <holds up his hands> I know, I know, but they’re for charity so I didn’t think you’d mind another, small commercial.
I feel incredibly honoured to have been a part of both anthology projects.
Now, we know a lot about your writing, and a bit about yourself… Why don’t you tell us about your permanent quest for the perfect pen & pad combo, your favourite fountain pen and why they are such a fascination to you?
It’s a funny one, this. When I was at school we were forced to write with fountain pens, and only in blue ink; if I never see a bottle of Parker Quink blue ink it’ll be too soon. Once I’d left school I don’t think I ever picked up a fountain pen until a couple of years ago. It all started when I was clearing out an old pen box, found my old, broken Paper Mate multi-pen (ballpoint and 0.5 mechanical pencil combination) and decided to replace it. In the course of that search I happened to stumble over a site selling, among other things, fountain pens and you could say the bug bit. Hard.
I have over twenty fountain pens in my collection now, most of them vintage pens. I like the sense of history you get with a vintage fountain pen, and the often superior build-quality. It never ceases to amaze me how a pen manufactured early in the last century can perform better than many of its modern equivalents. And then there’s the ink…so many colours… <Sam’s eyes glaze over and there’s a certain look of Golum about him>
Uh, sorry about that, where was I? Oh yes, ink. There are so many great inks out there in a myriad of colours, much more choice than the blue I used all those years ago. I have a bit of a “thing” for green inks, with several in my collection…yes folks +++ caution: geek alert +++ I collect fountain pen ink as well. Apparently, I am told that, at least in the UK, green ink was the colour favoured by err…those people, I hesitate to use the word “nuts,” who used to write prolifically to complain about newspaper articles; I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusion of what that says about my ink colour choice. <winks>
Then there are the notebooks. I do like a nice notebook. Currently I’m using a Leuchtturm 1917 A5 hardcover notebook, which takes fountain pen ink like a dream; Leuchtturm is German for lighthouse apparently. Leuchtturm also make a separate, colour-matched range of self-adhesive pen loops to add to their notebooks should you so desire; I have several of these, but you knew I was going to say that, didn’t you? I have this teamed with an early 1960’s vintage Sheaffer Imperial II Deluxe fountain pen filled with Sailor Riku-Cha ink, an interesting green-brown colour that changes colour as it dries.
I think my favourite fountain pens are a 1940s Waterman W5 in green-marbled celluloid with a fine gold nib, which is a joy to write with, and a modern Varuna Vishal fountain pen in black, I have the Bakul finish option, with a fine, gold-plated German nib. Hang on a minute, I hear you say, you just said you prefer vintage pens, what are you doing with a modern one? Ah, well, the Vishal, whilst a modern fountain pen, uses many of the techniques of the old fountain pen makers. Manufactured by hand in India, each pen is individually made by a master craftsman rather than being mass-produced by machine in a faceless factory somewhere.
The barrel and cap of each pen are manufactured from a single rod of ebonite and, let me tell you, when the cap is screwed on there is no visible joint line; you don’t see many pens manufactured to those standards these days, at least not many the average pen collector or user can afford. The Bakul finish, so named after the bark of an Indian tree, is applied once the pen is complete. It gives a wonderfully soft textured finish to the pen, and makes writing with it a lovely tactile experience.
Have you ever tried a (touch) pen and (i)pad? If not, would you consider it as an author? I mean, after all, you can write AND tweet at the same time!
Write AND tweet at the same time?! This is possible? <looks shocked by the very thought> Actually, I do have an iPod Touch so that is possible, just, though to be honest, for me it feels a bit like trying to wallpaper your hallway through the letterbox! I would consider trying an iPad if funds ever allowed (Ed: you’re talking about that five figure advance again, aren’t you?), but I can’t see it ever replacing my notebook and pen. The iPod is brilliant for reading ebooks on though.
Yes, yes and no. For speed there’s nothing to match Google and other online research sites, but you can’t beat leafing through books old and new for research purposes. Case in point, I’ve recently managed to get hold of a copy of the definitive book on ley lines, which is streets ahead of the information I’ve so far found about them online. Sadly, owing to my health and like a fine wine, I don’t travel well (stop laughing at the back!), though I have been about a bit in my youth and those adventures do inform my writing from time to time.
I think we’re incredibly lucky to have access to the internet these days as there is a wealth of information only a few clicks of the mouse away. I remember when I was growing up, this was in the days before desktop computers…
<pauses to await the looks of horror at the very prospect from the younger members of the audience>
…yes folks, this was at a time when music came on big flat black discs called records and there were only four TV channels in the UK…where was I? Oh yes…the days before desktop computers when, if you needed to find something out, you had to turn either to an encyclopedia (which was a big book, and nowhere within it did it bear the word “wiki”) or to your local library. I still think libraries are a wonderful resource, my local librarians are absolute stars at turning up obscure books I need for research.
That said, there’s nothing to match the ease of, as you think of a question, typing it into Google and seeing where that takes you; much of the research for my Northern Vampire Tales was done online, even though I know the city in question very well. You can’t beat being able to call up Google Streetview when you need to check something about a location, it really is so much easier than having to jump in the car and go there, and you usually have your answer in minutes.
Finally, if you had one tip for other authors (new and old), what word of wisdom would you like them to part with?
Blimey! You want me to offer advice to other writers? Err, okay then…
If you think you can’t you won’t (write, that is) so just get out there, take the plunge and enjoy the ride. Yes, writing can be incredibly rewarding, frustrating, infuriating and satisfying, usually in equal measure and all at the same time, but there’s nothing (legal. Not that I’m suggesting… Oh, you know what I mean!) I’ve found to beat the buzz when a new character marches into my brain and starts telling me their story.
SAM ADAMSON is the pen name of a writer, blogger and fountain pen enthusiast. When not writing or enjoying a good cup of coffee, Sam is engaged in a relentless hunt for the perfect writer’s notebook and pen combination. He lives in England with his family and is owned by two demented cats.
My Facebook profile: http://en-gb.facebook.com/people/Sam-Adamson/100001836284479
My Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sam-Adamson-Author-Future-nostalgic/108842892517506?v=wall&filter=1