Indie author Adam Dreece created the bestselling Steampunk series The Yellow Hoods — which has become a hit with kids from 9-15 as well as with adult readers. After a solid, 20-year career as a software designer and overcoming a serious illness, he started his company – ADZO Publishing – with his wife in 2014. In short order, he released the first two novels in his acclaimed The Yellow Hoods series — Along Came a Wolf and Breadcrumb Trail – within that first year.
Both books were critically acclaimed best-sellers and were followed swiftly by the third book, All the Kings Men, and a novelette, Snappy and Dashing. In August 2015, the first two novels were selected as finalists for the Independent Author Network’s Book of the Year award in the Young Adult/Teen and Fantasy categories, respectively.
Adam’s fourth Yellow Hoods novel, Beauties and the Beast, was released in October 2015. He currently resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his wife and children. He is an active online mentor, a busy public speaker, panelist, and author in Canada and the Pacific Northwest.
Welcome Adam! When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you start?
The standard answer is ‘always’ or ‘when I was 5 years old’ or something like that, isn’t it? But there’s a big difference between wanting something, and deciding to go after it.
I focused on my software career until Fate came along, and hit me with an appendix situation gone wrong, which left me with 15 months of very painful contemplation. Recovering from that, I was hit with severe asthma and an inflammatory disease. At that point, I started to write like I’d never written before, and on November 2013, I sat down with my wife and said that I wanted to make being a writer really part of my life. She supported me 100%
On January 4th, 2014 I started writing my first book, Along Came a Wolf, and brought the series The Yellow Hoods into the world. I haven’t looked back, and now have four novels and a novelette out in that series.
So is the answer 38 years (having just turned 43)? Is it last year? Is it 2009 when life hit me hard and made me start to re-evaluate what dreams was I willing to work for and make into reality? The answer is probably, yes.
How long have you been writing?
Oh oh, I answered this in the last question, without really answering all of the previous question. Hmm, if I keep this up I might get designated as a politician. Okay, let’s answer the other part of #1 here, and that way, we’ll be all caught up.
As many know, my daughter gave me a nudge to start writing The Yellow Hoods, Along Came a Wolf in particular. I’d got over organized in December 2013 and planned to write a book called Rise of the Muffin Men and… nothing happened. My daughter asked me, when blocked, to write a version of a bedtime story I’d told her, and Along Came a Wolf was the result.
Are we good? I think we’re good.
We are most certainly good 😉
I see on your website you have published four books. That’s a lot of work. Congrats! How do you balance a day job and family with writing and producing books?
Well, I had a full time job when I wrote the first two books and the novelette. It took a lot of discipline to lead a $7 million IT project and launch an author career, never mind staying engaged with my wife and my three young kids, but I got it done. The great casualty was TV.
(Not sure I could have given that up. You are strong.)
Since January, I’ve been focused on writing (and taking care of my kids). My wife and I made the decision that we wanted me to focus on taking my author career to the next level, and that’s exactly what’s happened.
What genre(s) do you write in? What is it that you love about them?
Genre is a funny thing, isn’t it? Fantasy, I get. Science Fiction, I get. But Young Adult? Isn’t that like another axis? Shouldn’t that be a qualifier of Fantasy or Science Fiction? I’m off topic, aren’t I? Let me have a sip of tea. There, all better.
I love writing young adult fiction. I love taking the younger reader and bringing them into a world that has depth and colour and richness, and taking the mature reader and bringing them to a layered universe where their investment will be well rewarded without leaving them emotionally trashed at the end (which sometimes feels like the point of adult fiction).
I like writing about my own worlds, painting in the background a place that the reader wants to pause the story and go exploring. Maybe it’s my years being a dungeon master for my friends when we played Dungeons and Dragons as a kid, setting everything up so that they could go off-script and explore, or maybe it’s the gamer in me who just loves the games that make you feel you’ve stepped into another universe.
Who are some of your favorite authors? Why?
I loved Good Omens by Neil Gaimen and Terry Pratchet. I also loved the Myth series by Roger Aspirin, 1984 by George Orwell and Brave New World by Aldus Huxley.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on The Man of Cloud 9, which is my first science fiction novel. Whereas The Yellow Hoods is really for the dual age groups of 9-15 and 28+ (that’s turned out to be 90-95% of my audience), this is more a classical science fiction type, focusing on readers 15+.
The premise is imagine the not too distant future where that generation’s Steve Jobs/Elon Musk, has created a generation of nano-bots that allows us to go too far, and he tries to bring us back before it’s too late.
I’m hoping to have it out in April/May 2016. Curious? Join my mailing list at AdamDreece.com/newsletter as I’ll be releasing some raw scenes over the next couple of weeks and months.
I’m also making notes for The Yellow Hoods book 5, which I’m hoping to release in October 2016.
In addition to all of that, I’ve been writing a weekly serial that I post for free on my website called The Wizard Killer, check it out and let me know what you think!
You have done a lot in a short period of time making me feeWhat does a typical writing day look like for you/what is your process?
I usually write for about two hours in the morning, and then have some kid responsibilities. After that I’ll normally take care of author business (blog posts, social media, booking book signings, following up on other parts) and hopefully squeezing in a bit more writing.
What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey so far?
Your greatest enemy is your own expectations. When you’re not pushing the world at maximum speed, you feel like you’re being lazy or missing something. And when you are going at max speed, you can feel like you’re standing still.
This is a marathon, and you should focus on hitting milestones and building things up, finding success and learning from every lesson and person that you can. Sometimes you have to pull apart your ego so that you hear it properly.
And the greatest lesson of them all, is that being an author is a team event. By yourself, you’ll never achieve much.
You chose the indie publishing path. How did you go about making that decision? Did you query agents first or just go for it?
I didn’t send a single query letter, I decided to go indie out of the gate. I’ve been an entrepreneur for years and while I’m open to being represented and/or traditionally published at one point, I wanted to see what I was capable on my own. If someone is going to represent me, if someone is going to offer to give me tremendously more reach than I have currently, then I want to be able to articulate what they need to bring to the table, to have realistic expectations of them, and be able to hold them to account.
That said, there’s a lot of things that I saw I could do as an indie that I could never do as a traditionally published author, such as put out 4 novels plus a novelette between April 2014 and October 2015. This has allowed me to get a tremendous amount of feedback, to improve by leaps and bounds, rather than watch a book a year dribble out and take four years to get that same feedback.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers about writing?
Finish what you’re writing and get feedback on it. I wrote a blog post called The Two Great Fears http://adamdreece.com/2015/12/14/the-two-great-fears-of-writers/ and I capture there exactly what I mean by finishing it, and how to get over the fear of judgment.
Another piece of advice I like to give is reach out to other authors, whether it’s me or others, you’d be surprised how friendly we are, never mind how happy we are to reply.
What advice do you have for people who have a polished novel and want to self-publish?
The first thing to do is ask yourself what’s your goal? Are you going the self-publishing route, i.e. just going to make it available, or are you going the indie publishing route and going to push this like an indie band wanting to make it big? Because the strategies are different.
Next would be keep a close eye on your costs. The biggest mistake I see is authors signing up for all sorts of services that aren’t so much there to help you, as to feed off of you. Ask other authors who have done what you’ve done, ask them for some of their lessons learned. Don’t be shy and don’t be embarrassed, none of us knew what we were doing (and some of us still don’t, 😀 ).
Find Adam’s book in print and ebook at: