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Noteworthy

25 July 2011

"Gut-Wrenching" Interview A- Adam Graham

This week's hostess is *Michelle Massaro

Today we visit with Adam Graham, co-author of the YA Sci-Fi title Tales of the Dim Knight. (Excerpt A)

Mild-Mannered Goofball Adam Graham is a strange visitor to this Earth whose ancestors hailed from Scotland and Ireland. He writes science fiction stories appearing in Residential Aliens, Light at the Edge of Darkness, and in the Laser & Sword e-zine, yet also a political column appearing on Pajamasmedia.com. He also hosts the Truth and Hope Report podcast, the Old Time Dragnet Radio Show, the Great Detectives of Old Time Radio, and of course the Old Time Superman Radio Show. Our hero does all this with the help of a Journalism Associates degree from Flathead Valley Community College and his auburn-haired leading lady, Andrea.

Welcome, Adam! I can tell right off the bat that you are very imaginative. Tell me, where do your best ideas come from?

Everywhere. I can come up with more plot ideas that are pretty viable than any one human I know. My short stories, “The Unjust Judge” and “The Perfect Church” were inspired by back to back sermons at church. I was inspired to write an entire series of superhero stories based on one cartoon episode of Batman. I have so many stories, I don’t know which I’ll get to, and they come from all over.

Wow! Sounds like you have some tough decisions to make. So are you a Plotter or a Pantser?

I’m a combination. I’m like the guy who knows generally where he’s going, but doesn’t quite known how he’ll get there. Usually I know where I’m beginning and where I’m ending. But what’s in between, that’s the adventure.

I know exactly what you mean. That's the fun, that's the discovery. It's almost like reading a book rather than writing it. And we writers are almost always readers, first and foremost. So what was your top reading pick of the last year?

Mark Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc was a really surprising book. Twain was known as a very irreverent person when it came to God and religion. When I heard that this fictionalized memoir of Joan of Arc’s secretary was reverent and respectful, I just had to read it. And Twain did an amazing job of telling the story of Joan of Arc which is so often inaccurately told or retold through a modern lens. Twain’s book does a great job of showing Joan of Arc’s incredible career, putting it in context, and also really creating some great human moments.

Fascinating! You certainly have me intrigued. I'll have to head to Amazon after our interview. Did you discover anything new about God's character through this book?

I think the book brought home two great truths I’d heard often. Joan was an illiterate farm girl who had never ridden a horse or seen a soldier, yet she turned around 96 years of French Defeats in seven weeks because she was willing to do what God was telling her to do. It reminded me that more than ability, God is looking for people who will be obedient and faithful. Another thing reading about Joan made me think of was our lifetimes. Joan did all she did and was dead at the age of 19. To me, that brings home that our time is in God’s hands and that death won’t stop us from doing anything that he intended for us to do. Our times are in his hands, so even when facing really fearful things, we can trust that He will be with us.

Mmm, what a great reminder to give Him our time and watch what He will do with it. Hopefully that will include getting a great many of your story ideas out onto paper. With all the prolific stories and ideas, I'm curious what snacks you like to have nearby as you write.

Something salty is preferable. Chips or Popcorn or something like that.

Yum! I like to have salt AND sugar. Add some peanut butter cups to that popcorn, and I'll sit down and write with ya all day long. Before we go, share something about Tales of the Dim Knight that you think readers would like to know.

The whole process of producing Tales of the Dim Knight took literally six years of work, some frayed nerves, and some back and forth with my wife, I, a few editors, and a couple of artists. The result is a book that I think readers will enjoy.

Adam, thank you so much for spending time with us today. I wish you the best of luck with this book as well as your writing career. I hope we see you and Andrea around often. =)

Q for Readers:

#1: “Colonel Bauers acted very nervous.”

#2: “Colonel Bauers paced up and down the hall. He grabbed a Kleenex off the end-table and then resumed his pacing.”

The first is an example of a cardinal sin of modern writing. Rather than showing what the Colonel did, the writer interpreted what the Colonel’s action meant which is called “telling.” In the second example, we are shown what the Colonel did and the reader is left to reach the conclusion that the Colonel was nervous.

New writers are told to “show not tell.” Yet, I can’t help but noticing some that not only classics, but many modern books by established authors often have large amounts of “telling” in them. As a writer, I’m annoyed that they are allowed disregard the rule that we’re taught to follow so closely. But my question for readers is how big of an impact does it make on your reading when an author is “telling?”

Alright readers, have at it! Join the conversation in the comments below by answering Adam's question, or posing one of your own for him to answer. Participating earns you entries into our drawing so don't be shy! And come back on Wednesday to sit down with the author of excerpt B, Marianne Evans.

*Michelle's passion is evangelizing through fiction. She writes contemporary inspirational novels with heart-rending themes intended to frame the message of God’s healing love. Michelle has written for Romantic Times, Circle Of Friends, and Pentalk Community, among others. Find her on her blog, Adventures in Writing, and join the fun.
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5 comments:

Gail Pallotta said... Monday, 25 July, 2011

What an interesting interview, Adam. And what a timely question.
It seems everyone is talking about showing and telling. Because I enjoy classic books, I too had noticed that they had telling in them. Makes one wonder what caused the change in writing. Are we more action-oriented now? Just taking a stab at what it might be. As for me as a reader, if a work is well written and interesting, I don't notice if the author is telling or showing. As a writer, I'm trying really hard to show.

Carrie L. Lewis said... Monday, 25 July, 2011

To be perfectly honest....

I love the classics and, gasp!, I love omniscient pov when done well.

I understand why the rules are in place, but wonder if they haven't narrowed the definition of good writing by making some things 'wrong' or, at best, 'undesirable' AND leaving authors, especially new authors, with the thought that certain things are always wrong.

Good writing that tells is still good writing.

Bad writing that shows is still bad writing.

Should not the emphasis be on good writing?

Michelle Massaro said... Monday, 25 July, 2011

Thanks for stopping by Carrie and Gail! I agree, the new techniques are most often viewed as "rules". As if there's some secret council deciding these things behind closed doors--with fog and mist and the whole bit. But I think if you understand the techniques and realize they are a trend, it's an easier pill to swallow. You can deviate, but do so for a reason, understanding that these conventions are in place mainly because it's what the majority of readers are currently interested in. But they certainly aren't laws that we can't bend or break if we feel we need to.

April W Gardner said... Monday, 25 July, 2011

Great question, Adam! Speaking strictly as a reader, I feel smart when I figure out a character's emotions, motives, etc based solely on the actions described. It's stupid, but it's true. Readers like to figure these things out on their own--that "aha" moment is addicting. But I don't mind telling one bit when done in the right place and in the right amount. Many times, showing just plain old doesn't work.

Marianne Evans said... Tuesday, 26 July, 2011

Hey, Adam! Great interview, and your book sounds great - it's been an honor 'clashing' with you this week at COTT. :-) As to your question, I'm big into show -- using actions, not just descriptions - but there are times, when building the story, that I feel authors have to learn the craft of succinctly and effectively using 'tell' in order to bring about progress. God bless!

Item Reviewed: "Gut-Wrenching" Interview A- Adam Graham Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Michelle Massaro
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