Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Interview with Action/Thriller Author Daniel Adams

As many already know, I've always had an interest in the FBI. I remember as a boy in the late 60's, early 70's watching 'The FBI' TV show starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. I love reading fiction and non-fiction books that has FBI characters in them. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book called TOP CASES of The FBI which won the World Book Awards in True Crime (2012).


I haven't interviewed many authors, just a couple, but today I've got a bunch of Q & A's from one of my favorite authors, and former FBI Special Agent, Daniel Adams. Daniel has written several books and it was after reading FIRST LADY DOWN that I contacted him praising his book. Since then, I've read all his books and we've become very good friends and have coached each other along in various facets of self-publishing. I've recently read his ARC (advanced reading copy) of 'PRESIDENT DOWN', the second book in the Troy Barclay and Amber Neilson series. This book is due to be released next week. I will post the links then.

RJ - Hey brother, welcome to my blog.

Daniel - RJ, Thanks for the opportunity to share some thoughts and comments with your readers. As you say we have indeed helped each other tackle various aspects of self-publishing which is a difficult endeavor at this point in time. Self-publishers face a daunting list of challenges, including such things as eBook formatting, marketing, and what platform to use to sell their books.

RJ - What are your current projects Daniel?

Daniel - I am writing book three in the Troy Barclay/Amber Neilson series which is currently set for seven books although it could be ten to twelve if my readers want more of the team. Book three is called HOSTAGE DOWN and it will be done by the end of March or first week of April. PRESIDENT DOWN, the book I just finished, came in at 173,000 words because I introduced three new series that will be spun off into other series. If you have read my novel, DEAD SOUTH, you may remember the heroine is a Black woman FBI agent who is sent to the deep South to investigate the murder of a Klu Klux Klansman. All of my readers really liked the heroine, Mattie O'Malley, and so she will team up with Jasmine, the tough and outspoken ER nurse from PRESIDENT DOWN and fight crime together as FBI agents. The contrast between the two characters will make the writing easy.

I am also writing a TOP SECRET novel that is based on a real story which involves the three things I say a book needs to be a huge success; sex, violence and violent sex. This story is so captivating and engrossing that once you start it, you can't put it down. It's about a lawman who goes undercover and crosses the line to actually become a criminal, or at least that's how it appears. He takes on scads of girlfriends, hits the popular drug of the time, and becomes a criminal mastermind. Wonderful character.

Lastly, I am doing research and planning for a SERVICE RHODES series of PI stories. If you haven't read it yet, PRESIDENT DOWN introduces Service Rhodes, a Private Investigator from Connecticut, who got his life back together after meeting Troy and Amber. The stories will harken back to the Jim Rockford type of character who lives by his wits and solves the cases that stump the police. Real fun.

RJ - I understand you're a screenwriter as well. Tell us about that? Do you write for Hollywood, any movies that we'd know of?

Daniel - Actually, I wrote a book called BLOOD HATH NO BROTHERS ( I know, lousy title) before I ever started screenwriting. It became my book SAVAGE LEGACY which is a fun adventure thriller available on Amazon/Kindle. After BHNB, I wrote a whodunit called COFFIN NAILS which will become Troy and Amber's 5th or 6th novel. Following COFFIN NAILS, I wrote a massive, SMILEY'S PEOPLE, type of spy thriller called WHAT TANGLED WEB which will appear later as a free-standing novel to introduce a new spy character.

That all said, an actor acquaintance told me that there wasn't any money in writing novels, and to switch to screenwriting. I studied screenwriting and wrote my first screenplay which was the adaption of BHNB to the big screen. It got some attention in LA, but as I have since learned, first and second scripts rarely are good enough to get any traction. I wrote two or three more scripts and then tried a different genre. Myself and a friend wrote a script called SECOND CHANCES which was ultimately (and after overcoming unbelievable obstacles) made into a film starring Charles Shaughnessey (the Nanny) Tom Amandes (Scandal, Leverage, Parenthood to name a few) Isabel Glasser and Madeline Zima.

Hollywood is a far different game than publishing and takes many years to learn the ropes. Screenwriting is a craft that you spend a lifetime learning. The difference between screenwriting and novel writing is in screenwriting, you only write the essence of each scene. No extras and no frills. You have 100 pages to tell a story, and you can't waste words whereas in a novel, if you want to spend a chapter telling how to load a torpedo into a nuclear submarine's launch tube, you can do it. In screenwriting you would just say, the crew loads a torpedo into the firing tube.

I don't write scripts for HW right now because financially, HW is in a state of chaos that makes financing a film almost impossible unless it's through the studio or substudio system.

RJ - What is the hardest part of writing a book?

Daniel - For me, it is getting tired of the story because you know how it will end. I want to get on to the next story with it's new and exciting characters and plot. I think readers don't want long books any more, they want books that come in between 80,000 and 100,000 words which doesn't allow me to get bored before the book is done. At this point in my writing career, I can write between 6,000 and 8,000 words a day if life leaves me alone and I have the book outlined.

A WORD ABOUT OUTLINING. I write the script version of the story first, as an extremely detailed outline which comes in around 22,000 words for a 100 page script. All I have to do is flesh out the script at a five to one ratio, five new words for each word in the script, and I hit my 100,000 words with ease.

RJ - Daniel, you add a dash of humor to your stories which is refreshing, especially after an intense shoot out scene. From your days in law enforcement, tell us one of your funniest moments.

Daniel - On a stake out in New York we were expecting a Mob hit team and all of us were pretty charged up. Well, the target/victim suddenly yelled that someone was chasing/following him and he squealed into our location, across numerous curbs, landscaping and such, and sure enough, a sedan was following him. So, I jumped out of a van with my M16 ready to unload on the sedan, but as I ran up to the window, I saw it was two befuddled old women who had followed the victim because they thought he knew where he was going. I think seeing all of the machine guns pointed at them aged them about ten years.

RJ - If you'd like to share with your readers about the West Nile Virus and how it almost killed you and the affects it still has on your everyday functioning and writing, by all means.

Daniel - Well, first of all, you can only get West Nile Virus by being bit by an infected mosquito. It can't be transferred from human to human by blood or other bodily products. Around March 1st, 2006, I was working in the garden and noticed a strange mosquito on my leg. I killed it but it had already drawn blood. About ten days later, I got so sick I couldn't move, and for the next year, I was pretty much down. It is a horrible disease that causes headaches, fever, excruciating joint pain, overall body pain, unending fatigue that leaves you worthless, nausea, and a variety of other symptoms. It was three years before I could function normally and now seven years later, I still have bouts of excruciating pain which is triggered by known and unknown causes in my environment. One I know is sugar, and 8 months ago, I quit eating any sugar, and have felt much better for it. As you learn the triggers, you take them out of your life. Something like 2-3% of peeps with West Nile Virus end up with the chronic version (lucky me) which will be with me for life.

RJ - Do you plan your scenes etc? Or do you write off the cuff?

Daniel - As mentioned above, I actually write the script version of the story first and then the novel. Prior to the script, I write what in Hollywood is known as a "BEAT-SHEET" which is a synopsis of the high points and good stuff in the story. I also start a sequence list of the scenes as they appear in my mind and then put them in the best dramatic/suspenseful/tension inducing order. I have never written off the cuff because I'm not that smart.

RJ - Have you ever hated something you wrote? What is your favorite book that you have written?

Daniel - Well, twenty years after writing my first scripts, I hate to go back and read them because although there is a story in each one, it pales in comparison to how I write now. So, I don't hate anything, but I wish I could rewrite everything I have ever written. Which I won't. Some stories don't age well. My favorite book is the TOP SECRET book I am currently writing. I don't want to reveal the title or story until I am nearly done because it is historical.

RJ - Is there an author that you'd consider a mentor?

Daniel - Not really. Syd Fields was my "mentor" by way of his book on screenwriting which was the only
one available when I started writing but I have moved on from his great concepts to write my own way but his paradigm for a script, won't ever be replaced. I can't say, other than Solzhenitsyn and John le Carre' that I have read any other author's complete works. Well, when I was young I read the Sackette series by L A'More and the Hardy Boys.

Thanks, RJ, for this chance to share with your readers, and if any of them hits you with questions for me, I will answer as soon as I can. Regards, Daniel Adams
Check out Daniel's books and links below:

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