John C Adams – Author Interview

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From Horror Tree reviewer and double Aeon Award Longlister John C Adams comes a disturbing tale of scientific experimentation and sadistic cruelty.

  1. Your new book is being released on September 24th – tell us more about what we can expect!

Blackacre Rising is the sequel to Souls for the Master and it takes up where the first book in the series leaves off. However, it is a self-contained tale in its own right and no prior knowledge of the series is expected. I like to make it as easy as possible for new readers to jump in at any point rather than assuming that they’ve read the prequel. Gerald, Ivy and Don have been betrayed by fellow resistance member Janus and have been forced to flee the Metropolis. Gerald takes them north to his cousin Brett Flint’s farmhouse at Blackacre, hoping to find sanctuary for them while he heads back south to challenge Janus and set matters straight. In the meantime, Ivy and Don explore the farmhouse and learn a little more about the sinister powers lurking at Blackacre. It isn’t long before they have missions of their own to complete, fraught with different dangers to the ones they are used to facing down in the Metropolis.

  1. Blackacre Rising sounds like such an epic fantasy. Is fantasy both your favourite genre to read and write in?

It’s actually horror, but the dark powers residing within the walls of Blackacre farmhouse do lend the novel something of a dark fantasy feel. Other locations in the novel include a secretive scientific research facility and an asylum up in the Austrian mountains. I wanted to move away from the dystopian horror feel of the first novel in the series, Souls for the Master, to different locations and themes, a bit like the anthology feel of many horror series.

  1. In your novels, which has been your favourite character to create and why?

In horror, my favourite character is Brett Flint, Gerald’s cousin, who owns Blackacre. He features in many of my horror short stories, many of which are liminal horror. I’ve grown very fond of him after writing about him so often, both in terms of stories set when he is married and raising a family and those that involve his childhood. It’s given me space to really explore his oddities as a character and learn to understand them. Nothing is too strange for Blackacre, so I’ve really been able to let my imagination roam freely and Brett Flint has made that possible as Blackacre’s owner.

  1. Are there many emotional scenes in your books? If so, do they affect you in any way or can you write them without shedding a tear?

Writing can be such a draining experience because you run through a whole gamut of emotions along the way, especially in novels that feature a wide cast of characters. My fantasy novels focus on romance as well as epic sword and sorcery action, so there is always the rise and fall of emotion as the narrative tension builds. I think any author becomes immensely attached to their characters and key scenes always spark strong emotions in me. They are a part of yourself, after all.

  1. Tell us more about the books you’ve written already and the plans you have for any future novels.

I’ve published two fantasy novels in the Gortah van Murkar series. The first, Aspatria, was published in 2016 and the sequel Dagmar of the Northlands came out in 2019. Aspatria chronicles how Dextra becomes queen of Aspatria after all her menfolk are killed in battle at the hands of the Eirans. She is expected to marry to secure a powerful foreign alliance to prevent the Eirans from invading Aspatria again, and the novel is in part her journey to find love and balance her own needs with those of her country. In Aspatria, it is possible for a ruling sovereign to have two spouses, so she’s determined to exert her right to have two husbands even if this brings alot of tension into her relationships. Dagmar of the Northlands, the sequel to Aspatria, also centres around a powerful female figure who is trying to do her duty by her country and find love. Dagmar’s challenges are entirely unlike those of Dextra, and I was keen to create a very different heroine this time round. She’s much more likely to hoist an axe and lead her own army into battle, and marrying isn’t on the cards for Dagmar at all.

  1. Which author do you look up to, or who has been your biggest inspiration for your writing to date?

I’ve always been a huge fan of John Wyndham, the English Fifties Scifi and Horror writer. I grew up on his novels, and they have had such a big influence on my writing. I’m also inspired by James Herbert, the English chiller writer, who I also read alot as a child and young adult. Plus I like Stephen King’s work and I often re-read Lovecraft and Poe, because both have influenced my horror writing a great deal.

  1. Which book did you find the hardest to write, and why?

From listening to other writers I’ve found that the first full-length novel is often the hardest to get finished and perhaps the one that requires the most rewriting, often entirely from scratch. That was definitely true for me! It took multiple rewrites of my debut novel Souls for the Master before it was ready to be submitted to a publisher in 2015. It was accepted by the first publisher I submitted it to, which I’m really proud of, but an awful lot of work had gone into those different versions over a long period of time. The good news is that it seems to get easier with every new novel I write.

  1. When did you first decide to write a novel and how has it changed you over the years?

I wrote a lot as a child, including quite long fiction, which is why I never seem to have a problem writing full-length novels now. I prefer them to short fiction, but then every writer has a word count they feel most comfortable around. I then had about fifteen years where I didn’t write at all because real life intervened in the form of university and working. When I was at home all the time raising a family and caring for a severely disabled relative I started writing again in order to carve out some time and space for myself. That was so important when I was constantly giving to others. I rewrote one of the long pieces of fiction from childhood, approaching it from an adult perspective. I grew as a person both through writing again as an adult but also through being a carer and parent. I don’t think it’s an accident that so much change and development occurred simultaneously but for very different reasons.

  1. What are you working on at the moment?

When I’ve finished a horror novel like Blackacre Rising and it’s all ready to launch, I tend to swing back over to fantasy. I miss one genre whenever I’m working on the other, so right now I’m totally ready to get back into the first draft of my current fantasy romance novel. It’s about halfway through, but for a first draft that means there is still an awful lot of work to be done. I haven’t been around those characters for a while, so I’m itching to get back to them and drive their stories forward to a conclusion. This third novel has a Russian-inspired Medieval theme and it draws a lot upon folk tales. I’ve loved reading Russian folk tales and fairy stories as part of my research.

  1. What is one piece of advice you’d give to authors just starting out?

I get asked this question a lot, I think mostly because being an author is tough and I’ve been doing it for a while so I’m pretty thick skinned and resilient. I did my fair share of writing courses, including a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University, which I did find really helpful. If a budding writer hasn’t joined a writing group or done a writing course, I’d definitely say give it a go. However, the best experience I’ve had in terms of growing as a writer has actually come from being a reviewer. Before that I did a lot of submissions reading with Dublin-based genre fiction magazine Albedo One, and I learnt a lot there about what makes a great story, too. Reviewing full-length novels has really helped me to understand more about plot, character, pacing and narrative development. I review for the British Fantasy Society, the Horror Tree and Schlock! Webzine. I can’t recommend reviewing enough because it helps the growing writer to really get down into the technicalities of how a story is constructed. It’s revolutionized my writing quality.

About the author

John C Adams is a nonbinary writer of fantasy and horror fiction. They are also a reviewer with the British Fantasy Society, the Horror Tree and Schlock! Webzine. 

John has had short fiction published in Swords and Sorcery Magazine, Sirens Call Magazine, the Horror Zine, Devolution Z Magazine, Lovecraftiana Magazine and many other small publications. You can also read their short fiction in anthologies from Lycan Valley Press, Horrified Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink. 

Longlisted twice for the Aeon Award, John has also been runner up for the Enrico Charles Literary Award. They have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University. 

John is an Oxford graduate and non-practising solicitor, living in Northumberland UK but conducting the ultimate long-distance relationship with their boyfriend in Pennsylvania.

You can pre-order your own copy of John’s latest novel, Blackacre Rising, on Amazon now, released on September 24th!

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