KG: What or who inspired you to be a writer?
CC Adams: You know, if there’s any one thing I attribute it to, it’s from having done NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) back in 2009. I used to be a member of author Kelley Armstrong’s discussion forum, and one of the sub-forums on there was for what was known as the Online Writing Group.
Now the year before, I heard a bunch of members talking about ‘who’s doing NaNo, are you ready for NaNo’, etc. To start with, I thought it was something to do with an iPod. But then I came to learn that National Novel Writing Month is a worldwide thing. Every year, in the month of November: the challenge being to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. So from 2008 to 2009, I weighed the pros and cons, outlined a story in my head. Come November 2009, I knocked out 52,000 words in 29 days. That’s when I thought, “You know, there might be something here.” Been running with it ever since.
KG: What gave you the idea of your latest book?
CC Adams: But Worse Will Come is the sequel to a short I wrote a few years ago, called Sunset Is Just The Beginning. The idea behind it came from an office incident some years back when I worked as an account manager. One of the guys in the office threw a spider at someone. Sure, it was in one of those polythene pouches that the spare buttons come in when you get a new suit – but he still threw a spider at someone.
Understandably, the victim wasn’t impressed. A ‘fuck you’ here, a threat of rendering someone unconscious there. What stuck with me was: if someone does that to you, how do you get them back? How do you scare them? That was the premise for Sunset Is Just The Beginning. The novella But Worse Will Come is set some thirty years later. The two titles together sum up the story arc: “Sunset is just the beginning …but worse will come.”
KG: Who is your favourite writer and why?
CC Adams: Mmmmm. Not sure I could pick any one as an all-out favourite. I love Michael Crichton’s work, because he mastered blending fact with fiction. You pick a book like Jurassic Park for example, and you get the sense of intrigue, the sense of action and threat – but there’s that scientific rationale woven into it. And it’s meticulous. Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole novels have always entertained me. Christopher Moore’s work has entertained me and, in some cases, had me burst out laughing when I read that shit in public. Practical Demonkeeping, A Dirty Job – prime examples.
So, no, I couldn’t really pick a favourite. It kind of depends what mood I’m in.
KG: What's your favourite book?
CC Adams: Likewise, this may also be depending on what kind of mood I’m in. Currently, I’d go with “Thor”, by Wayne Smith. For those who don’t know, it’s the tale told from the perspective of a dog called Thor. He lives with a human family, who are his ‘Pack’, but the balance is upset when Uncle Ted comes to stay. Especially for Thor, because – unknown to the family – Uncle Ted is a werewolf. As for how Thor learns something is wrong with Uncle Ted, how he reacts, even how he views his Pack, it all makes for a compelling narrative – because you know that the family will find out about Ted the hard way. Everything from love to horror is in there. I only bought that book last year or so, and I’ve already lost count of how many times I’ve read it.
KG: Do you read a lot? If so what are you reading right now?
CC Adams: I don’t, no! Certainly not as much or as often as my peers seem to. Partly because I’m writing, or editing, or doing submissions: I’m handling some kind of author business every day, no matter how small. But I read. It’s kind of hard not to, given who your peers would be. As an HWA (Horror Writers Association) member, you can opt in to receive fiction which is up for consideration in the Bram Stoker awards – the yearly horror awards from the HWA for horror fiction. Everything from short stories to full-blown novels, and all to secure your vote. Plus, when your peers are working on something new, you might get to beta read it.
I’ve not long finished reading Thor (again), so not sure what I’ll read next. Ideally, it’d be Aidan Chambers’ ‘Book Of Ghosts & Hauntings.’ Well, it would be, if I could find my damned copy. Plus, I’ve got the latest copy of Black Static that I should wade into at some point.
KG: What writing projects are you working on?
CC Adams: I finished the latest novella, “There Goes Pretty” about a couple of weeks ago. I take a break from it for now, to let it percolate, so that I can go back to it with fresh eyes. I did the A Story A Week Challenge from This Is Horror last year and finished Story 52 at the start of October. That leaves me with a few shorts to clean up for submission. A couple of those are already sold and due out later this year. I’m currently doing a deep dive on another one of the 52: “Janine Inside Me”
When I first started writing, I wrote for a lot of open submission calls. I also wrote a number of short story ideas that just came to me. What this means is that I have a number of short stories that I keep on rotation, submitting to various publishers until the right story finds the right home. So there’s a good number of short stories, but not much in the way of long fiction: the novellas and novels. What that means is now I’m concentrating more on the longer fiction. That doesn’t mean to say that I rule out writing shorts completely: because if the story intrigues me enough, I’ll still write it. But that’s not where the main focus is.
As an author and a reader, I prefer long fiction to short fiction, because it’s more of an immersive experience. You can lose yourself in the story, let it unfold around you. Think of it as preferring a long candle-lit bubble bath to a quick shower. And because a reader will read faster than you can write, I’m always working on something: it’s not just the muse I need to keep up with, but the readers too. Clean-up of the latest novella and more of the 52 shorts from last year should take me up to the end of the month. Most likely next month is when I’ll start the new novel.
KG: What do you like most about writing?
CC Adams: Ahhhh… to create, I guess. To not just write something, but to craft something that wows your audience. Now my core team of beta readers have been with me for long enough to know ‘what I’m capable of.’ So it’s humbling when they tell you that you’ve caught them off-guard, that your work is ‘chilling’ or ‘So. Damn. Creepy’, or even ‘some of you motherfuckers need Jesus’, it’s a good feeling. They get to see behind the curtain as it were – they see it from the raw work to polished product. Imagine how the audience will feel: seeing just the magic trick, and not how you actually pulled it off. It’s just humbling to wow and move your audience.
KG: Where do you see yourself and your writing in five years time?
CC Adams: Same as now, pretty much. Writing. I just write those stories that I want to read, and that hopefully the audience will read. Something that can engage them, wow them, catch them off-guard. Maybe even scare the shit outta them.
KG: What one writing tip would you share?
CC Adams: One tip? Finish your draft. For those who would be new writers, or those with a degree of experience, I’ve seen those cases where they’ll get caught up in the details and lose sight of the big picture. As a result, that story doesn’t get finished. Now I know the Americans have a phrase saying that ‘your mileage may vary’, but for me, I will finish that draft at all costs. Why? Because at least then, I’ll have something to edit. When I type, it’s like a mile a minute, with a lot of words looking like ‘sdhbchchi uyhyuhygu iojgeoie’: sloppy as hell. Doesn’t matter. Once the first draft is down, then I do clean-up. Tidy the grammar and punctuation. Fill in plot-holes. Flesh out detail. All that good stuff. Tidy the draft when there’s a draft to tidy.
KG: What would you say to educate and inspire young writers?
CC Adams: I’d say …hone your craft. No matter how good you are at it, there’ll always be those who simply don’t like what you do – but your audience will love you for it. Deliver your best work to your audience, because that’s what they want. And don’t just follow the crowd: be you. Set your own precedent.
© KGHH Publishing 2018
1.Despite having grown up watching an array of horror films, he admits he doesn’t watch them now as they ‘scare the shit outta him.’ “I’ve got no problem reading those stories – that’s fine,” he says. “It’s the watching them that I can’t do.”
2.An avid Spider-Man fan, he still owns several hundred original-issue Spider-Man comics, mainly across 3 titles: The Amazing Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Web Of Spider-Man. He cites landmark issues in his collection such as the origin of the Human Fly, Harry Osborn on drugs, the death of Kraven The Hunter, and Venom’s first appearance.
3.Hospitalised for a disc infection in his lower back in his teens, CC still has a Venflon scar in his forearm from a failed injection of antibiotics. “Stupid ward sister didn’t listen when I asked her to check it before injecting,” he says. “As a result, the injection didn’t go into the vein, but the surrounding tissue: painful as hell, swelling my arm and splitting the skin around the Venflon. If ever someone needed beating for their pig-headed stupidity.”
4.Having worked as a barista for a number of years, he still knows how to deliver the perfect espresso shot. “Give me a LaMarzocco and I’m happy,” he says. “It’s like an executive toy. The same way when you see a juggler juggling, so it is when you pull and pack your shots. Four portafilters, one pair of hands. Keep everything moving.”
5.His all-time favourite song is “Skin Trade” by Duran Duran. He has the single version, the album version, the Stretch Mix and the Parisian Mix, but cites the album version as his favourite. “More than the sum of its parts, it’s just funky and cool. It speaks to me.”
6.He has a birthmark on his foot in the shape of a Caribbean island.
7.Still lifting weights years after his teens, he maintains that he will lift heavy, but not heavier. “When it comes to squats, 140kg (just over 300lbs) is a nice round number,” he says. “I don’t want or need to go any heavier.”
The youngest of three sons, London native CC Adams grew up in the south-west of the city. After early years of watching Hammer Horror, the arrival of the VCR brought more opportunity. With his oldest brother leading the charge, the three siblings spent Friday nights through to Saturday morning watching the likes of Rabid, An American Werewolf In London, The Kindred, Poltergeist, etc. It then reached the point where CC was too scared to watch a horror film, and was content to stay in his room until his brothers told him it was safe to come out.
CC would still enjoy horror stories. When his brother would bring books from the likes of Stephen King, Terrance Dicks, novels of the Omen trilogy and novelisations from the likes of Alan Dean Foster, CC would still devour them. But it wasn’t until, on leaving primary school, when CC was presented with a copy of Aidan Chambers’ Book Of Ghosts And Hauntings that a love for dark fiction was truly cemented.
Now a member of the Horror Writers Association, he also holds a 2015 Honourable Mention from the Australian Horror Writers Association for short fiction. Still living in London, he lifts weights, practises martial arts, cooks - and looks for the perfect quote to set off the next dark delicacy. He signed with KGHH Publishing in the Spring of 2018 and his first book with them “But Worse Will Come” is to be published later in the year.
Visit him at https://www.ccadams.com/