Thursday, December 2, 2010

Author Interview With Will Adams--by Christopher Boswell


By Christopher Boswell

Will Adams is a successful novelist based in the UK. He has created a unique archeological thriller series based on a heroic character named Daniel Knox. His titles include: The Alexander Cipher, The Exodus Quest, The Lost Labyrinth, and just released -- The Eden Legacy.

Knox is an underwater archeologist who has the knack, and bad fortune to cross very bad people who strive to hide or use the “true histories” of mankind for their own nefarious ends. Knox is a resourceful and likable hero who is accessible and recognizable to the reader. His travels and perils engage and entertain us, taking us on thrilling rides through some of history’s long unresolved mysteries. Adams’ exotic and sometimes gritty locations are described in a deft, tactile style that put us on site, smelling the dank of a half-sunken burial chamber in Egypt to the shock of a rare cold rain against your desert-dried upturned face.

Thanks to Mr. Adams for taking the time to answer a few questions for Pikes Peak Writers, and we wish him continued and great success with his future projects.

Question: Daniel Knox is the likable and resourceful character first introduced in your novel: The Alexander Cipher. Is Knox based on someone you know, or perhaps is he the vicarious shadow and alter ego of Will Adams? Or truly an invention created in whole by your imagination?

Knox is fictional, though of course he’s very much based on the person I daydream myself to be, if only I had the necessary courage, resourcefulness, knowledge, charm and looks. He was very much an organic creation, if only because I rewrote the story so many times before it finally found a publisher (I wrote the first draft in 1995; it was finally published in 2007). That said, there are certain things about him (such as his looking Bedouin, and losing his parents, and being a diving instructor) which were effectively solutions to plot difficulties. It’s one of the challenges of writing a multi-book series that you use up so much of your characters’ back-stories early on, which can slightly paint you into a corner for the later books.

Question: The Alexander Cipher is your first published novel. Can you elaborate on your experience publishing it? Did you have a chance encounter with an acquiring agent at a pub perhaps? Or maybe a family connection you took advantage of? Or more likely, are there more hours than you’d like to recall pouring over the successive drafts, fine tuning the prose, a stack of rejection letters filed in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet somewhere?

My sister actually worked for one of the big London publishing houses, so after I finished the first draft of The Alexander Cipher, she arranged for one of the readers there to look at it. I was really excited for a while, hoping he’d like it. But he didn’t. He was very nice about it, but he said no, and he was right to. It simply wasn’t good enough, not at the time.

I must have had well over a hundred rejection letters over the years, including a good fifty for The Alexander Cipher alone. It’s very easy to get angry at publishers and agents for that, but the truth is they don’t reject aspiring writers because they enjoy making other people’s lives miserable, they reject them because they don’t think they can sell their work to publishers.

I made a conscious decision a few years back, therefore, to take every rejection as a sign that I needed to do better. That meant taking a good long hard look at myself to try to see where I was falling short, then working to improve. And I did improve. It was slow and painful but noticeable. And finally I got a huge bid from Harper Collins, and within a week I’d had multiple interviews and sold foreign-language rights in a dozen countries. That would never have happened if that reader had made me an offer out of pity or because he liked my sister.

Question: Can you describe your typical writing day? Once you start a novel, do you set for yourself a daily goal perhaps? Do you write at a set time of day, in a specific place, need quiet or music in the background?

I have absolutely no self-discipline whatsoever, so while I set myself daily goals all the time, I never achieve them. The only two ways I can get myself writing are either through fear of missing a deadline or because I’m genuinely caught up in the story I’m working on – which is why picking the right subject when starting on a new project is so important for me.

When things are going well, I write best in the morning, from around seven to midday, and then maybe a little more in the afternoon. I also try to read some relevant book before I go to bed so that I can brood on the ideas overnight. As for my place of work, I have a very quiet study, because I need absolute silence and solitude to get into the story, and my concentration is very fragile. Even a phone conversation at the wrong moment can completely derail my working day.

Question: Was there a time when writing any of your novels that you considered giving up, wondered if it was worth it, wondered if this was the path for you? If so, how did you persevere and push forward?

Yes. I thought about giving up all the time. Relentless failure is very dispiriting. But the blunt truth was that, every time I tried to be adult about it and build myself a proper career, I kept thinking that I should be off writing instead. Not only did that mean I was always unsettled at whatever job I was doing, it also meant I was pretty hopeless at it. So I always worked with the intention of saving enough money that I could survive for a year or so, and write another book. And when I was on one of those writing breaks, I often used to feel that I wasn’t doing it very well, but I can’t remember ever once feeling that I should be doing something else with my life. So carrying on wasn’t a matter of perseverance so much as an acknowledgement of who I was.


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