Author Matt Adams is on the blog today. Being the cover whore that I am when I saw the cover for his book I, Crimsonstreak I said there is an author I should find out about and so I did. You all should too!
I grew up in a little town called Williamsburg, Indiana, which is in Wayne County near the state line with Ohio. The closest city is Richmond. I now live in Indianapolis. I’ve always been a big science fiction fan…Star Wars and Star Trek in particular. As I’ve grown up (I use the term very, very loosely), I’ve also developed a fondness for superheroes. For nearly nine years, I worked in TV news, but I decided to leave the job to pursue other opportunities and write. I always thought I’d be a sports broadcaster, but instead I’m writing novels and short stories! I really couldn’t be happier right now.
Your favorite authors and books? –
I’m a huge Michael Crichton fan, with Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, and Timeline among my favorites. I’ve always like Timothy Zahn; his Star Wars: Heir to the Empire trilogy is one I read almost every year. I enjoy biographers David McCullough (Truman, John Adams–no relation) and Walter Isaacson (Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs). Comic influences include Alan Moore, Darwyn Cook, and J. Michael Straczynski. Some of my favorite comics are Justice League: New Frontier, Watchmen, Batman: Knightfall, and Death of Superman.
What are you reading now? –
I’m getting ready to dig into A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in the George R.R. Martin A Song of Ice and Fire series. I just finished reading Fletch by Gregory McDonald..
Why superheroes for your books? –
This is a question I don’t know I can answer sanely, but I’ll try. My first novel combined baseball and science fiction. The next book I wrote with a simple premise in mind: a superhero locked up in prison after being framed by his own father. Those were both written in 2007.
Superhero prose isn’t a huge market (there are exceptions: After the Golden Age by Carrie Vaughn, Empire State by Adam Christopher, Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman), but I grew to love the flexibility of writing about superheroes. You can go dark and brooding, bright and cheery, paranormal, paramilitary, goofy, romantic…I found I could do a lot outside the typical cape and cowl, tights and flights stereotypes. I just kept writing and writing about them.
Tell me about what the writing and publishing process was like for you in regards to I, Crimsonstreak –
I wrote the first draft in 2007 over the span of a few weeks. I’m not kidding about that, either. It took just a few weeks to crank out that first draft. It was only about 55,000 words, but I didn’t realize that was too short for a novel. Eventually, I added some bonus material (fake newspaper and magazine articles, character profiles, villain dossiers, and journal entries) that helped flesh out the world of the book. I declared myself “finished” in 2009 and began querying literary agents, unaware that I had no idea what I was doing.
The responses went a little like this: Rejection. Rejection. Rejection.
I thought Crimsonstreak wasn’t marketable, and after the success of Soon I Will Be Invincible, I feared the book’s premise and execution (imprisoned character, first-person format) would be considered a copycat. I shelved it, and went on to write a few more novels, one of which, The Franchise, is also based on superheroes.
I benched Crimsonstreak; I didn’t think it was going anywhere. The truth was that the book wasn’t close to being polished, and I had no clue about the publishing industry (a dangerous thing when you start to believe you do know something about the publishing industry).
Last year, ebooks exploded. Publishing went KABOOM! I read about authors who had success self-publishing ebooks. I didn’t have a Kindle and didn’t know anything about ebooks, so I bought a Kindle. I learned basic ebook formatting. My plan was to take my “unpublishable” book, throw it out there, and see what happens. I did some cover mock-ups, sent the book to beta readers, and prepared it as an ebook. Before I hit the “publish” button, Twitter changed everything.
On a whim, I asked a simple question during a Twitter book chat: “Where do you shelve a superhero book?” The answers were all over the place, but science fiction/fantasy seemed to be the final answer. One response came from the editor at Candlemark & Gleam, who said she was “always looking for good superhero fic.”
I decided I’d give I, Crimsonstreak one last shot in May of 2011. After giving it a final polish, I wrote a letter to the editor, recounted our Twitter conversation, and (as the guidelines called for) sent the first 50 pages. A week later, the editor (Kate Sullivan) asked for the full manuscript. I was nervous, but excited and became a fanatical email checker for two straight months. In late July, the editor responded that she wanted to acquire the book, but asked for a few revisions. I did those, resubmitted, and then waited. At the end of August, I received the final acceptance and a book contract.
There are sequels in the works for I, Crimsonstreak what about beyond? –
I just finished what I’ve been calling the “Crimsonstreak-quel,” and am in the process of editing it. There will be a third adventure featuring Crimsonstreak, although I haven’t even outlined it yet. I’m also working on something called The Franchise, a book about a superhero-for-hire service set in an alternate 1960s. It’s more of a nod to pulp heroes than the Marvel/DC world like Crimsonstreak. I’m digging in for some hefty revisions on that. Another on deck is Sheridan’s Hammer, a sci-fi adventure about a former intergalactic gladiator stuck on a planet controlled by an oppressive theocracy. It needs a lot of of work.
The cover is awesome who did it and are you pleased with how it turned out? –
I was floored with the final cover. We had some frustrations along the way (the initial concept ended up not quite “clicking” for us), but we ended up with a bright, splashy, comic book-inspired cover that absolutely captures the feel of the novel. Brooke Stephenson (her Deviant Art page: http://ogawaburukku.
Tell us about I, Crimsonstreak –
The book is told from the perspective of super-speedster Chris Fairborne, aka Crimsonstreak. He’s trapped in the Clermont Institution for the Criminally Insane after being framed by his father (reformed supervillain Colonel Chaos). Our hero finally escapes…emerging to find his dad has taken over the world. With other superheroes fighting a disorganized resistance, Crimsonstreak teams up with a teenage superhero-to-be and the boy’s snarky British butler to confront his father and set the world right. The book is a love letter to superhero comics and pop culture; Crimsonstreak is a quick-witted hero who never misses an opportunity to bust out a movie quote.
Where can readers find your books? –
Pre-orders for I, Crimsonstreak are open right now. My publisher does these through Kickstarter, and there are different price “levels” for people who are interested in the book. Some of these include great extras! You can find more here (http://www.kickstarter.com/