Monday, November 5, 2012

An Interview with Author Adam Gaffen

Bio: You want basics? Born in Maine, live now in Maine, grew up here and there. Went to a great high school and a few meh colleges (or maybe they were just meh in comparison). Married in 1995, have three kids, plus various and sundry pets of one species or another.


Please welcome husband, father of three, and author Adam Gaffen to Unwritten! Adam won an interview here during the 20,000TH Hit Giveaway events, so let's get to it!

Buy it HERE!
Adam, tell us where you're from and what you do when you're not writing sci-fi and other exciting stories.

My family and I live in rural Maine - well, that doesn't narrow it down much, does it? - near Sebago Lake.  It's a great area for raising a family, though not quite so great for work.  I manage to work two jobs, one in a restaurant, which is, well, meh.  The other job is for the Census Bureau, and it gets me out talking to people all the time.  Plus, writing - I have a blog going and am involved in what is still a super-secret but very exciting project!

Give us the scoop on your new series, The Cassidy Chronicles, and how many books do you have planned for it?

Right now, I'm in the middle of writing book 2, A Deadly Quest, and have tentatively plotted out two more books, though I haven't gotten as far as actually naming them yet.  Simply put, The Cassidy Chronicles are centered around Aiyana Cassidy and her wife, Kendra Foster-Briggs. Cass is an optical engineer in the 22nd century who stumbles upon a revolutionary process and finds herself on the run from people who'd rather bury the process than allow it to get out. Kendra is an agent for a shadowy organization called OutLook.  I'm not sure how you would classify it other than SF - though the phrases 'industrial espionage', 'techno-thriller', 'adventure romance', and the old 'On The Road To...' movies all come to mind, depending on the scene and setting.

Buy it HERE!
As you may or may not know, I like to snoop around and find out all I can about the authors I interview here. On your blog, The Kildaran, you spoke of an old story you had a sort of love/hate affair with for many years. As someone who has sheltered too many unloved stories on her hard drive, how challenging was it to breathe life back into this one, and what has been the response to it so far?

Actually, not terribly challenging at all, as it had already gone through three rounds of editing and revision over a period of almost two decades.  The time lag from creation to publishing allowed me to emotionally detach myself from the story and be more critical of the essential elements.  Frankly, I think it's turned into one of my better works; it's certainly gotten a good response from reviewers!

I've also checked out your family blog, Our Side of the Mountain, and enjoyed it very much! Your family has embraced homeschooling and provide some wonderful insight into the curriculum you use. For other families considering homeschooling, what have been the benefits and challenges?

The biggest benefit is that it allows our children to study at their own rates - while there are state-mandated levels of achievement, if there's a sticking point in any one subject we can stay on it and stay on it until it's been mastered.  Children learn different subjects at different speeds; our oldest, for example, is working on High School-level studies even though, technically, he's 8th grade; by the same token, our daughter and our youngest both spell at about the same level.  Different.
Challenges - besides the obvious, that it takes time, LOTS of time to do it right?  As in, whoever takes the role of teacher IS a full-time teacher for no pay?  Designing a curriculum can be difficult because of the volume of choices out there (more than you might think!); finding the time to spend with each child as they need it; and keeping up with their outside interests.  Our daughter plays clarinet; for us, that means once a week driving her to the school and waiting while she has her lesson, then (if the schedule demands) bringing her BACK for band practice.  Scouts and sports keep us running too!

I'd be remiss not to ask about your mini-zoo. Dog, cat, fish, ducks, and spoiled chickens? Harried parents and writers everywhere want to know: What are your secrets to balancing writing with such a full family life?

Buy it HERE!
Yep.  Golden retriever - great with kids, patient, gentle, not exactly the sharpest crayon in the box; the Cat, a rescue cat (found as a kitten, maybe 2-3 weeks old, abandoned by the mother, we think a feral cat) who spends most of the day either sleeping or stalking the dog; fish, just to watch them swim; ducks and chickens for eggs, though they are more than just egg-layers - the more time you spend with them, the more their personalities come out.
Take the time to be with them as needed; take the time to veg out sometimes too.  But teach them that, when Dad sits down to write, it's time to Be Elsewhere.  Of course, my restaurant job means I get home late some nights, after everyone is abed, and that gives me quite a bit of quality writing time.

I love the pictures from your rural surroundings, too. Has that setting influenced your writing?

Not yet; I find that I draw much more from my own experiences traveling.  Then again, this IS the region Stephen King lived in when he began his career - if you've ever read The Mist, I KNOW the setting, have driven the roads, shopped in the store - very odd.

Random question time!  This question comes from one of my oldest daughter's favorite books, Would You Rather?...Radically Repulsive:
Would you chased by a swarm of bees OR one really angry German Shepherd?
40 angry pigeons OR 3 angry weathermen?
10,000 crickets OR 1 angry Burger King mascot?
Oh boy.  Okay.  First, the German Shepard - one on one!  Bring it, dog!
3 angry weathermen - at least up here they can't agree on anything, so I'd expect them to start bickering about who was going to do what!
10,000 crickets.  The King is just creepy!

Now, Mr. Gaffen, would you be so kind as to share an excerpt of your work?

Sure!  This is from A Deadly Quest - a little background.  Kendra has led them to the outskirts of New Orleans, a dead city, and is leading them into the old downtown where her agency hides.

      It wasn’t as bad as Cass thought it would be.
      It was still pretty awful. After Hurricane Alondra in ‘98 and the final catastrophic breach of the city levees, City Park had flooded. Only by keeping to the remains of roadways were they able to keep their footing, though each were soaked to the waist before long. Kendra kept them on course by heading for the wreckage of what looked to be a Greek temple.
      “It was called NOMA, I’m told,” she said in response to Cass’ question after they passed the remains of a football stadium. “Some sort of museum. We should steer clear of it, though.”
      “Should I ask why?”
      “Of course you should! Always be aware of your environment, especially anything that might constitute a threat.”
      “Okay. So why should we steer clear of it?”
      “It’s haunted.”
      “You’re kidding.”
      “A little. The locals, the ones that are left, believe that it’s haunted by the people killed inside when the roof collapsed. It was one of the ‘approved hurricane shelters’ during Alondra, but the roof wasn‘t up to the wind and the rain. It’s said that up to two thousand people died when it all fell in.”
      “That’s awful!” exclaimed Cass.
      “It is,” agreed Ken. “The other reason is it’s a perfect breeding ground now for water snakes – the cottonmouth is the one we have to look out for. Deadly.”
      “Water snakes?” Cass looked around her. She was knee-deep in murky water at the time.
      “They’ll mostly stay away if we keep moving. Hint, hint.”

Thanks so much for being here, Adam, and I wish you a ton of success!

Thanks for having me! 


  1. I'm very impressed with this. First came across Adam when he wrote the Santa Claus piece for the OFF competition. I thought it was brilliant. Now I find he is a fascinating person in his own right. Wonderful to educate your own children at home.
    Love the excerpt.

  2. Thanks for this Mysti!!! I am going to check Adam out!

  3. Very interesting interview. The Deadly Quest has teeth!

  4. What a fun interview! Maine is my favorite place in the whole world, so already I'm interested in Mr.Gaffen!

    Bless you!


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