GCE Exclusive: Interview with Guy AdamsJune 26, 2013 0 By Steph Mernagh
Author Guy Adams, possibly most well known for his book “The World House” and his work in fandoms such as Sherlock Holmes and Torchwood, has just had a new book released called “Deadbeat Makes You Stronger”. It’s an interesting look into two friends that get more than what they bargained for when they see a group of men loading a coffin into the back of a van. But the occupant of said coffin is still breathing…
We had the chance to interview Guy about his work as an author, where he gets his inspiration, and of course, his new novel, Deadbeat.
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been writing professionally for about seven years, before that I was an actor. Not a terribly successful one.
I live in Spain because it’s nice and, on the few occasions I manage to step out into the light of the outside world I would rather look at a palm tree than a wheelie bin.
Like all writers I have a surfeit of cats.
I also have a forgiving partner who hasn’t gone mad through living with someone who makes things up for a living. This is possibly because she was mad in the first place.
Your book, Deadbeat: Makes You Stronger has just debuted, congratulations! What can you tell us about it and what inspired you to write it?
The novel is based on a novella I wrote about ten years ago. That was actually my first published book and was read by as many as thirty or forty people.
I wanted to write something that revolved around a solid dramatic hook: two men are walking home one night when they see a coffin being brought of a church. The coffin spills before they can load it into a waiting van and a body falls out. It’s breathing. The body is then shoved back inside the casket, into the van and driven away.
That was what came first, the characters of Max and Tom, the men who see this, came slightly later. They were lifted from an online serial I had written for a year (my first paying writing gig). They were ciphers of myself and the man who had got me the job, a writer, theatre director and friend Steve Newman. I was Max he was Tom. They were intended to be throwaway characters really, an in-joke for Steve.
Then, when I came to start writing the original Deadbeat, I realised they were perfect “heroes” for the occasion. I changed them slightly but they were essentially still the two of us.
Now, so much later, they’re quite different. Not least because I read the original book and found I disliked Max intensely, which was rather worrying considering he was based so closely on myself.
I’ve always wanted to revisit the characters. I wrote a sequel novella shortly after the first and planned a third but by then I was earning my living as a writer and I simply couldn’t find the time to write just for “fun” anymore. Then I got the opportunity to write the books as full-length novels and it’s been brilliant, I can finally tell their stories.
There are a lot of changes from the original book so, in the unlikely event that one of those original thirty or forty people are reading this, have no fear, I haven’t just churned it all out again.
You write the novel (Deadbeat) with point of views from both main characters, Max and Tom. Why did you choose this method and what were the difficulties in this writing style?
Originally it just seemed a fun way of doing it, then as I continued, I realised it offered some exciting storytelling tricks too. I play with the expectation of first-person narrated fiction, as well as the notion of the unreliable narrator. We all see things in a different light and flitting between perspectives means that you can work with that.
Who were your main influences for Max and Tom? Who do you think might play their parts if Deadbeat was made into a film or television show?
As admitted above, they were wholly based on myself and Steve. As far as casting goes… assuming Steve and I don’t want to do it ourselves we could always go for Marc Warren as Max and Ralph Brown as Tom.
You’ve written both Sherlock Holmes and Torchwood novels; how did you come to decide that you wanted to write something that was a part of a previously established fandom and what made you choose them? Are there any other fandoms you’d like to write?
Firstly I’d have to be honest and say that it wasn’t so much that I just decided to try my hand at them. As a freelancer you often have to do whatever work you can get, I’ve written a lot of books on a lot of different subjects. That said, I am a huge fan of Holmes and Torchwood so they were a pleasure.
The Torchwood books came about because I was lucky enough to have my name suggested to the commissioning editor by several different people at the same time. I was asked to pitch ideas and one of them was approved.
The second Torchwood book was slightly different in that they came to me as someone who they had already worked with and knew could turn something round quickly.
As for the Sherlock Holmes, I mentioned to Titan that should they ever want to supplement their reprint range with original books I’d love to have a go, six months later they got in touch and we were away.
A similar thing happened with Hammer Books. I’m a died-in-the-wool fan of Hammer Films so when I heard they were setting up a book imprint I got in touch. As with the Torchwood range I was lucky that my work had been recommended by someone else too so they paid more attention!
For me it’s always been trying to balance work with pleasure. I have to write books, it’s my living, if I can try and fix it so that I’m writing about the sort of things I like then not only will I be happier but I’ll also do a better job.
There’s a snobbery to tie-in, I think, which I don’t really possess. I think that’s my comics background, in that medium it’s perfectly normal that you flit between work-for-hire projects and your own material. Same if you’re a TV scriptwriter.
As for characters I’d like to write but haven’t yet, that’s easy enough: DOCTOR WHO. I’m a huge fan and I’ve wanted to write some DOCTOR WHO stories since I was a very small child. As yet it hasn’t happened but hopefully it will one day.
Also, comics. I’m finally doing a fair bit of comic writing but there are a lot of the big characters I’d like to have a go at!
Where do you find your inspiration for writing?
I was listening to an interview with the marvelous John Lloyd the other day where he discussed this. He felt that any writer who, when asked where their ideas came from, simply said ‘my head’ was being an idiot. He believes the process is far more complex than that, even spiritual. He wonders if there is a collective unconscious filled with concepts and ideas that we tap into and draw from. I’m not sure I agree with him, in fact I know I don’t, but it was a fascinating discussion nonetheless!
In truth I think inspiration comes from everywhere. Creative people are sponges, everything they see, read, hear or experience all goes in the vat. The good stuff floats to the top and comes back out down the line, possibly in a way that makes it virtually unrecognisable.
I think the process is subconscious but traceable.
For example: my partner has had serious health issues for the last couple of years (on the mend now I’m pleased to say) but it made me aware of her mortality more than I might otherwise have been. If you look at some of the books I wrote in that period, the Holmes novels, an adaptation of HANDS OF THE RIPPER for Hammer Films and even the weird westerns I’m writing for Solaris, you find traces of it. They’re books filled with bereaved widowers!
In the case of John Watson and the protagonist of HANDS OF THE RIPPER the characters came to me in that state but the focus I placed on the fact was very much my own. It was what happens when the man writing has suddenly begun to imagine how it might feel to lose the person he loves.
That’s a more obvious point of course, it’s easier to trace that than, say, the plot details of DEADBEAT but it’s all the same I think. Random thoughts congealing down the line into stories and characters.
How do you get past writer’s blocks when you experience them?
I’ve never experienced true writer’s block, a genuinely paralysing fear of the blank page. I frequently get to a point in a book where I have no idea what happens next though and it is scary. I’m not a planner, I like to make it up as I go along, write myself into corners and litter potentially useful details around as I go so that I’ll always have something useful to go back and make use of should things get tough.
Sometimes I work out of order, jump ahead to something else that I do know, sometimes I work on something else entirely. Sometimes I just walk the dog. In the end you figure it out, that’s the job.
Can you tell us a little about what’s coming up next for you?
I’m currently finishing the next in the HEAVEN’S GATE series of weird westerns for Solaris. A series about an entrance to the afterlife that appears in the American Midwest for twenty four hours. BRIGADOON as directed by Sergio Leone.
Then, in September, I have the first in a new series coming out from Del Rey UK. THE CLOWN SERVICE, a blend of horror and espionage.
Outside of novels I’m continuing my work as scriptwriter on THE ENGINE, a comic from Madefire, as well as work for 2000AD. GOLDTIGER, a book I created with artist Jimmy Broxton is out in the autumn too after a successful Kickstarter. We’re hoping to do more work together too. Comics are my big thing at the moment, I’m really determined to try and even out the work I do across both mediums, that’s my ambition for the next year or so!
Do you have any advice for those looking to get into writing?
It’s so hard. I always remember the ‘secret’ Neil Gaiman mentioned in a talk on the subject. I’m paraphrasing but essentially: be nice to work with, be on time, and be really, really good. The twist is that you only need two of those skills!
Ultimately it’s about hard work, constant rejection and accepting that it is a job. If you just want to write because you enjoy it then, that’s great, but maybe let it stay a hobby. If you want to do it as a job then understand that enjoyment will take second fiddle to getting the job done.
About The Author
I was raised in a pretty geeky household on a daily dose of Bill Nye the Science Guy, X-Files, and Jeopardy (not to mention Power Rangers and TMNT). I'm an amateur cosplayer and collect anything and everything related to The Walking Dead. I love Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman, Deadpool, the Avengers... When I'm not at conventions, museums, science centers or playing video games, I'm a full time makeup artist.