Welcome to the Blog-lounge: C.C. Adams

26 Oct

Being a writer is a lonely occupation, they say. In defiance of this edict I’ve begin a blog tour. All two of my blog followers were probably tired of me talking about myself so I’ve decided to open the doors to the blog lounge, put the kettle on (or get some beers in) and interview some fellow writers.  First up is the wonderful C.C. Adams.

Q. How long have you been writing? What got you started?

In a professional capacity or with professional intent, over 10 years – still a relative newbie, I guess. I’d started out as a member of Kelley Armstrong’s discussion forum on her old website, which included the Online Writing Group, or OWG, as it was called. After catching wind of National Novel Writing Month back in 2008, I’d watch the forum members have at it. By the time 2009 rolled around, I figured it was time to have a crack at it. 52,000 words in 29 days made me think, ‘there might be something here.’ And I’ve been running with it ever since.

Q. Tell us about your latest work?

The latest work is currently a novel where a woman narrowly avoids a road traffic accident – that’s about as much as I’ll give away right now. And with a novel-length work, it’s been more time crafting the characters, researching the science or the disciplines that feature to add in that realism. Also set in London – where, despite being a native, I take pains to research the small details to bring that cityscape to life.  As someone born and raised in the capital and proud of, I treat the city like a character, so I want to present as vividly as possible.

Because it’s been a long time since I’ve written a novel, I’ve had to revisit my process. For me, the process for a short story won’t be the same as it is for a novella. So there’s been that going to basics to overhaul how I craft a novel. It’s been arduous(!) but an important step; because I need to wow the audience. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a novel, a short story, or something between. The story needs to engage them and wow them.

Q. I see you have a book out called ‘Semen’. Tell us about that.

Oh, man – that’s a whole other story; no pun intended. The original short was called Seed, which I wrote back in 2017 as part of that year’s A Story A Week challenge. And even when I’d written it, I felt the story was too short; that it dealt with the premise but not the resolution. Stories and films like Rosemary’s Baby, Demon Seed, and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle had really stuck with me since childhood, so I guess this is my homage to that kind of narrative.

The first step was the re-titling; and given the narrative, ‘Seed’ was kind of tame, where ‘Semen’ is not. Neither are swear words, but ‘Semen’ – especially in today’s social climate of #MeToo and accountability for one’s actions – has that connotation of wrongdoing.

Out of all the work I’ve written to date, that one has had the strongest reaction; certainly the most negative. Not all reviews have been favourable – which I’m okay with, because when you write fiction for public consumption, you’re not going to please everyone. That’s just the nature of the beast. The title alone grabbed attention. Mama doesn’t read my work as such; for her, it’s more a trophy thing (look, he’s done this book, he’s done that book, etc. etc. etc). Semen was the exception; she doesn’t want a copy of that. Even when I first ran it past the publisher, the reaction was one of intrigue – by the time it came to the artwork, it was one of ‘nothing too graphic.’ But when they saw the final artwork, they loved it. The cover alone sets the tone.

The strongest reaction I had was that a real-life friend unfriended me, citing that she found some of my work misogynistic. That was a first! Apparently, with a book called Semen, ‘what was I thinking?’ But given the content, in crafting the story, most of the pre-readers were women. Yes, my work goes to dark and uncomfortable places, but I don’t want anything gratuitous. I want to tell a good story as well as an honest one.  Possibly the biggest compliment it got was from Karen Runge who stepped up as one of the beta readers. And for the longest time, I had reservations about reading her work, because her reputation as a craftmaster of truly dark fiction precedes her. But yeah, it wowed her, which humbles the hell outta me.

Q. What is your favorite piece of published or unpublished work that you have written?

Probably the novella But Worse Will Come. It’s one of those rarities in all the work that I’ve written that I can honestly lose myself in as a reader. It’s also a major factor in why I sleep with the light on. That’s the tale I can look back on and still see the narrative as fresh; in some stories, the narrative might be a little dated, given how my work has evolved since then. But the pacing, the set pieces, the reveals, the dialogue – all of it? Yeah, that’s pride and joy right there. And I knocked out the first draft in three weeks. Even compiling the author notes was a joy.

Q. What is your least favorite published or unpublished work? What idea didn’t work?

Least favourite? Wow. I’d written a short story called Something In The Wood that, thankfully, was rejected when I sent it in to an open submission call – this was one of my early forays into writing. The feedback was that it started well enough but devolved into innuendo without any real substance to the story. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I’d willingly try to sell something so foolish.

Q. What are your writing bugbears?

Lack of quiet and solitude. There are some people who can write to music or background noise – for the most part, I can’t. Even when there are people outside my house or cars pumping the beats, I’m like ‘fuck off already.’ When I have that quiet and solitude, it’s easier for me to tune out the outside world and sink myself into the one I’m creating. Sometimes, I prefer to write at night. Not only because it’s when the house and the neighbourhood go to sleep, but night brings that amplification of nuance in the darkness. Insidious things that might watch from dark places.

Q. If one of your books were to be made into a film which one would you chose and what ideas do you have for transferring it onto screen?

Probably the very first novel I wrote; the one that prompted me to take this writing thing further. The novel features a homeless man – and that’s all I’ll say on it for now! Especially since I plan to revisit it at some point, and try my hand at a screenplay; even if it’s only one scene. Everyone starts somewhere, I guess.

The advantage now is that you don’t necessarily need to get those films into a cinema to get an audience to watch them. Platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime do good business, I’m sure – even more so in these times of a pandemic where 1) people aren’t going to the cinema so readily and 2) people on lockdown are more likely to seek out new content. So with the likes of Bird Box and The Silence hitting those platforms courtesy of authors Josh Malerman and Tim Lebbon, you don’t know what’s next. But the opportunity and the content are there from a whole host of authors in the genre.

Q. What are your future writing plans?

Currently working on the new novel, which should be wrapped by the end of November. I also want to get down an outline for the next one as well – even if it’s just the title and the elevator pitch. There’s also a couple of novellas to polish and tighten; or I might strip them back to basics for an overhaul. Either way, I’d like to have at least one of them done by the end of the year. As is, I’ve got work due for release between now and October 2021 for Halloween. This is part of the reason why I’m ‘always working’ – so that I can keep the audience engaged.

Aside from that, the muse has been nagging me to put a collection together. Not just an assortment of odds and ends, but to do a proper collection. Tales with a similar theme, non-linear narrative, a la Pulp Fiction – that kind of thing. Generally, I prefer long fiction, both as an author and reader because I find it to be a more immersive experience. Think on the difference between a shower and a bubble bath. That said, I feel if I did a collection of interwoven short stories, it would be a cool and different take on long fiction.

The hardest part I have now is obeying the schedule; knocking out the new novel while trying not to get sidetracked in crafting a collection. But the muse is good like that; she gives me ideas faster than I can write them. I just try to keep up.

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