Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What convoluted brain came up with Yellow Hood Series?

Interview with Adam Dreece,

- author of The Yellow Hood Series – a bestselling Young Adult series of steam-punk meets fairies and two other YA novels in the post-apocalyptic-fantasy genre.

Welcome to my blog, Adam.  Your varied background offers numerous possibilities for turning to writing. I’m interested to hear what you have to say on the subject.

1)      You are creating three series. Did you have outlines or ideas for more than the first book when you started to write? Did you decide on your overall story arc for the series in the beginning?

When I first started writing what would become Along Came a Wolf (The Yellow Hoods, #1), I didn’t think I was writing a book. I wanted to capture a story I’d told my daughter at bedtime. It transformed, added complexity, and I had this inspiration. I could see where the world and the lead characters could go. I wasn’t certain how the form would be until I the middle of Book 2 – Breadcrumb Trail

I didn’t have a concrete plan, but knew the beats and where I wanted to land the story. It became clear how I could make the series into a trilogy of series: The Yellow Hoods Series (Tee, Elly, Richy as early teens), Mark of the Yellow Hoods Series (about 3-5 years later), and then Legacy of The Yellow Hoods Series (w/Tee, Elly, Richy as adult leaders).  

Signed copies available at

Book 5 in the Yellow Hoods Series is done and ready to release on April 9th (April 7th in eBook) and I’m looking forward to bringing Mark of the Yellow Hoods to life in 2019/2020.

2)      What is the average age of your characters?  Of your readers?

I have the classic teen-trio of Tee, Elly and Richy and a significant supporting cast. The Cochon brothers, Egelina-Marie, and Christina Creangle are in their 20s / 30s. Marcus Pieman, Nikolas Klaus, and Eleanor DeBoeuf Senior plus others are in their 50s.

Consequently, my audience is split. About 50% of my audience are ages 9 to 15, and about 45% of my audience is 28+. It’s amazing to hear whom my readers see as being the true principal characters.

3)      Why did you choose to write books? When did the shift from techie to author happen in your head?

At twelve, I started to do two things: 1. Write stories, 2. Write Programs. To me, they were two different ways of bringing ideas to life. Later I bailed out of engineering and went into software. I earned an honours degree from the University of Waterloo in computer science and philosophy. My technological career spanned Microsoft, Silicon Valley, and more.

All the while, I couldn’t give up writing. Like an addict trying and failing to stay clean, I’d binge on every now and then and share the short stories with family and friends. But life demanded that I focus on my career and family until 2009.

Health issues derailed my life in 2009. As I tried to rebuild, I turned to writing to get my emotions out and my head clear. For three years, writing an autobiography was my focus and I realized that I could write a book. The initial feedback was very strong, and I almost put that book out as the first step in my indie career.

Conversations with my wife showed me I wanted to replace my income as a software architect with an author income, and that I thought it would take 5-8 years. Moreover, I didn’t want to be the broken guy who fixed himself. I wanted to be known for my imagination. I shelved the autobiography and started writing Along Came a Wolf.  I’ve been the stay-at-home dad and writer since 2005.

4)      And why write for the Young Adult Market?

Many authors write for a specific market, but I don’t. Instead, I think of who I want to enjoy my stories and write for them. I also want a younger version of me who, at a highly impressionable age, was able to enjoy the stories from one perspective, and I want the adult me to enjoy them from another. As a software architect, I constantly had to write or present ideas that addressed multiple audiences, so it feels natural doing it in my stories.

5)      You talk about your Dyslexia and how you have work-arounds to deal with it. Tell us a bit abut that.

I didn’t know I was dyslexic until I was about 19 years old. As time went on, I recognised both the advantages and downside of my dyslexia.  Find out how I handle dyslexia as a writer in this video:

One obvious drawback of dyslexia is reading speed. Instead of reading for ideas and inspiration, I turn to movies, TV, articles, and conversation. My wife, an avid reader, talks to me about books. Whenever she finishes reading one, we’ll discuss in detail all the aspects, and I get some of the benefit of having read it. I won’t pick up neat turns of phrase, but that’s okay. I don’t consider myself literary when I write. I’m more conversational.

We all have some form of challenges. I have chronic pain, severe asthma, and dyslexia. But my brain works great, I have a constant fountain of ideas inside me, and I have the means to allow myself to write. There are far worse fates than having this special gift.

Fighting writer's block? Check out Adam’s video:  Getting Unstuck


The Day the Sky Fell - at a reduced price. 

Fast and fun questions. Please answer yes or no. Have you ever:

(A few words of explanation are allowed).

1.      Jumped out of a plane? No, that’s just a nasty rumor.
2.      Been in a bar fight? Ah, how did you know this was part of the same story as jumping out of the plane? I deny everything. EVERYTHING.
3.      Gotten lost in a strange city? Well, I have to say that it didn’t stay strange for long. We became good friends, London and I. Now why King Street changes its name and then reverts back, I’ll never know, but it was a most interesting lesson for a 12 year old boy on his own with a paper map. Now, Zagreb, Croatia was a different story altogether, but I’ll keep that for another day.
4.      Shared your ice cream cone, lick for lick, with your pet? With my immune system? Heavens no. I might have killed the poor pup.
5.      Spent time skate-boarding (with or without your children?) As a teenager, I decided I was going to try and learn skate-boarding. Then, as a slightly older and more injured teenager who realized he had a highly-visually based sense of balance, I gave up that dream.

Adam, thanks for taking the time to provide revealing answers for the questions. We’ll be watching for the release of Book 5 in The Yellow Hood Series – The Day the Sky Fell, due out in April 2017.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Who do you call when your loved one is kidnapped?

Interview with K.J. Howe author of The Freedom Broker Series – an international thriller series about kidnapping and ransom.

Thank you for this interview. Learning about your life and your character’s life has been fascinating. Both of you have active, busy lives. With my current interviews, I’m exploring whether writers are born or created by their lives –the basic nature versus nurture concept. So that’s the intent behind some of these questions.

  • 1)      You’ve lead an international life with a wide variety of activities. Do you think that life prompted the writing urge? If you’d never left Toronto, or had grown up and stayed in a small community, would you still have started writing novels?

I definitely feel that I would be writing whether or not I’d had my eclectic upbringing, as I love books, stories, and the escapism novels provide. I started reading at an early age, and I always wanted to be a writer. That said, I believe my choice of international thrillers is firmly rooted in the experiences I’ve had abroad. Because I have lived in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean, I’m comfortable creating stories set in those places. I work hard to create verisimilitude by immersing myself in the locales I’m writing about, as I love to transport readers there, bringing them the smells, tastes, and sounds of a country. Thrillers appealed to me because I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie, something that was fostered by my father. He introduced me to motorcycles, scuba diving, and other adventures, and I’ve been enjoying a life of action ever since.

  • 2)      In Thea Paris’s bio, we learn that her brother’s kidnapping led her to become a negotiator for kidnap situations and an advocate for the families. What in your life prompted you to choose this career path for your main character?
With over 40,000 reported kidnappings a year, this issue is becoming a global crisis.  Kidnapping intrigues me.  It’s a purgatory of sorts, as the hostage is alive, but not really living life.  Every single item a hostage wants, whether it be food or privileges, he/she must obtain permission for it—but the kidnapper can never take your mind or sense of self unless you give it to him.

I spent a lot of time in countries with high threat levels, so there was always a shadow hovering over me—and being abducted was a prominent fear.  When I met former hostage Peter Moore, the longest held hostage in Iraq (for almost 1000 days), I had the deepest respect for the courage he showed under enormous duress.  Peter was taken hostage along with four British military gentlemen, and sadly, he was the only one to come home alive.  What made Peter able to cope?  I explore issues like this in my book.  I wanted to create a character who would help bring hostages home, a strong female who would do anything to help others.  And Thea is personally motivated to be a kidnap negotiator because of her brother’s experience.  It’s more of a calling rather than a job.

  • 3)      Your research has been extensive. Many of those you talked to are almost covert in nature. How did you connect with the various people and organizations for the research?
The world of kidnapping is a very dark and secretive one.  Knowing I wanted to write about this subject matter, I attended a conference and was fortunate to build relationships with a few key figures, and they have introduced me to others. I continue pursue more research, as kidnapping is a diverse topic, and I hope to write many novels about Thea’s exploits.
Link: Freedom Broker
  • 4)      How much of yourself ends up in your character and in what fundamental way are you and Thea different?
Most authors inject themselves into their characters because writing is a catharsis, a way to making sense of our world. I feel a strong collegiality with Thea Paris, as I never wanted the fact that I was a woman to stop me from pursuing any passions. Thea and I share a love for travel and adventure, but Thea is far braver than I am. I’m not big on being shot at, but she rushes into the fray. And Thea has type 1 diabetes, which is a serious vulnerability for her, especially when she travels abroad, as insulin is her elixir—without it, she would die.

  • 5)      You are creating a series. Did you have outlines or ideas for more than the first book when you started to write? Did you decide on your overall story arc for the series in the beginning?
There are many facets of kidnapping, from kidnap for ransom to virtual kidnappings to tiger kidnappings.  I could also explore extortion and piracy in the series because Thea works in those areas as well.  And there are endless hotspots in the world, so I do have countless settings for future novels.  I definitely considered the overall story arc, but I also left wiggle room for being impulsive.  Like any seasoned operative, Thea left me egress routes all planned out.
  • 6)      What do you want your tombstone to say?
She was the one who got away.

  • 7)      What are you working on now? What new adventure is ahead for Thea?
I’m currently working on book two, and it’s called SKYJACK.  Thea Paris is shepherding two former child soldiers from Nairobi to London when the plane they are on is hijacked.  The adventures kick off from there.  SKYJACK involves secret stay-behind armies from WWII, the CIA, the Vatican, and more.  Warning:  do not read while flying.

Fast and fun questions. Please answer yes or no. Have you ever: (A few words of explanation are allowed).

  • 1.      Danced naked in the rain?  Heck, yes.
  • 2.      Ridden a motorcycle?  Absolutely, I have my license.
  • 3.      Jumped out of a plane?  Not yet, but have been in an aerobatic plane doing a few twists.
  • 4.      Been in a bar fight? More a lover, not a fighter unless someone is being bullied. 
  • 5.      Gotten lost in a strange city?  It has become a habit.
  • 6.      Shared your ice cream cone, lick for lick, with your pet?  No, I gave the dog the whole cone.
Thanks for taking the time to provide answers. We’ll be watching for Thea Paris and The Freedom Broker Series.

Find out more about KJ