Copyright - Clancy Tucker (c)
Quote of the day:
"I don’t believe that life is supposed to make you feel good,
or to make you feel miserable either.
Life is just supposed to make you feel."
Clint Adams - Guest Author
Today I am pleased to welcome Clint Adams as my guest author and screenwriter. Clint hails from the San Francisco Bay Area. After having spent a decade getting to know teens (via school visits), author Clint Adams currently promotes his Stories About Facing Fear storytelling groups in an effort to help teens/young adults everywhere maintain their “I can do anything” attitude. In conjunction with these events, Clint actively markets his four multicultural teen/YA novels, JUST SAY MIKEY, FEAR AIN'T ALL THAT, DON'T BE AFRAID OF HEAVEN and MY WATCH DOESN'T TELL TIME along with one adult thriller, THE SEVENTH RITUAL. Welcome, Clint.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
Well, first of all, thanks a bunch, Clancy, for inviting me here today. I’ve really enjoyed your blogs thus far…can’t wait to read more. To say I’m ‘all over the place (geographically)’ is correct. 8 years ago I chose to become an Italian
citizen (because of my writing/marketing my books) while at the same time maintaining my U.S. citizenship. I currently live in one of the wine-producing regions of the San Francisco Bay Area and plan to return to Europe this fall.
I first became published as a journalist in 1993; worked for the academic publishers McGraw-Hill and Kaplan, Inc. full time; was a professional actor in film, TV and theatre before becoming a writer. Most important path in my writing journey: earning a master’s degree in (international) marketing…so I could strive to become my own best book publicist, book marketer and (book-related) PR expert. Advice to newer writers: “No one is ever going to care about your books more than you…make an effort to do all (book) marketing yourself.”
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
Taking my first Creative Writing class paid dividends when the instructor said, “Everything you write in this class is RIGHT – it’s not English class.” Hot damn! I despise rules and structure. I’ve been writing ever since. Firstly, articles for regional newspapers. Subsequently, JUST SAY MIKEY, my first published book in 2002. Classes were great. Having worked full time at McGraw-Hill, writing test material for middle-graders and teens, was an incredibly valuable experience; lots of folks (editors) leaning over my shoulder daily…helping me GET IT RIGHT.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
During the creative phase: the discipline, the research, the solitude, getting from Page 1 to Page 300, celebrating Page 300.
During the marketing phase: Meeting teens and young adults (the genre I write for), hearing their stories, acknowledging and respecting when they confide in me (a blessing), staying young as a result of being around the vibrancy of their lives, their actions, their fearlessness, their dreams.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Sales!!!I hate it and I suck at it. Not to be confused with marketing, of course. That’s a whole different thing. I’ll bend over backwards to discuss the content of my books or the messages contained within them. Trying to convince anyone to buy my book over another is a nightmare for me. Exhibiting at book and publishing conferences doesn’t make me tons of $$$, but I LOVE meeting the people that come up to my booth.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
My undergraduate degree came from the University of California, Berkeley (drama). I worked regularly in film, TV and theatre in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York as an actor. Fortunately, I saw it as a business from the very start (as I see writing), so I was lucky enough to work often through my relentless hustling for jobs.
I had parts on everything from DAYS OF OUR LIVES to MURDER, SHE WROTE, but commercials and industrial videos paid the bills. When I look back, I’m grateful to have had those experiences, but I wouldn’t go back for anything. Much more happy behind the camera than in front of it.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
The third book I wrote, DON’T BE AFRAID OF HEAVEN, will always be my favorite and continues to sell the most. It’s not difficult to imagine that this concept is searched for constantly on Google. I wrote it to help teens cope with their fear of death, to give them a better understanding of the death of a loved one, their own mortality. It’s a sequel to FEAR AIN’T ALL THAT, prequel to MY WATCH DOESN’T TELL TIME. I wrote it as a tribute to my cat, Samantha, who, I could tell was “ready” to die after having lived with a variety of debilitating diseases. Much research showed me that pets routinely go to die, alone, hidden away – they accept death and never seem afraid of it. If pets don’t fear death, why should people?
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I’m currently working on the second draft of a screenplay adaptation of my last novel for adults, THE SEVENTH RITUAL: A RACE FOR SURVIVAL. Part of me is reluctant to pursue this though; it’s an extremely personal (and disturbing) story, that, in all
honesty, I’m sick of telling. Sometimes it’s just better to move on…and tell a NEW story.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
More than anything else, life events. People, and the way they react to circumstances in their lives. Do they choose to learn from their obstacles? Or do they choose to learn nothing? It’s my belief that, inevitably, every lesson will keep returning until it’s chosen to be learned. I truly see this as being the point of life, of living. I mention this often in all of my books, the lessons that God gives us. By the way, I regularly use the word ‘lessons’ as a replacement for ‘obstacles,’ ‘hindrances,’ ‘challenges.’
WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Four published young adult/teen novels (amazon.com puts them in ‘Visionary’ teen fiction).
JUST SAY MIKKEY (2002)
FEAR AIN’T ALL THAT (2005)
DON’T BE AFRAID OF HEAVEN (2005)
MY WATCH DOESN’T TELL TIME (2005)
*** 1 published adult suspense/thriller
THE SEVENTH RITUAL: A RACE FOR SURVIVAL (2009)
***1 screenplay adaptation, yet to be produced
THE 7TH RITUAL (2012)
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
M-A-N-Y. I think I’ll focus on just one, the one I see as being the most helpful. (Even when writing novels/fiction) CREATE and DEVELOP a platform!!! This is nearly mandatory these days when initiating a marketing plan and campaign. Address the theme of your book and identify its most prominent message (a msg. that’ll be helpful to the reader).
In 2006, I knew that I had to create a press release for my newest novel about to be released, MY WATCH DOESN’T TELL TIME. Sadly, I recognized that there’s nothing newsworthy about a novel coming out by anyone other than J.K. Rowling. I looked at my four books and saw that they all dealt with fear, living without fear, eliminating fear. As a result, I then created NO TIME FOR FEAR workshops that were to take place as schools in Europe. This eventually became STORIES ABOUT FACING FEAR, an after-school program in the U.K. It helped me tremendously to be known by some as, “Dr. Fear” or “The guy who writes about fear.”
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
Not when I take Ex-Lax. Oops, sorry…you said WRITER’S block, didn’t you? Yes, of course…when I don’t create deadlines for myself. I also find that I write at a slower, less confident pace when I begin to write a book. The first several chapters are crap (“rubbish” in British English). It’s only natural that the words really begin flowing at around Page 70. No block beyond that point, for sure.
DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
Yes. Being an Italian citizen, I repeat this saying daily (when writing), “Continuità è la chiave del successo. (Consistency is the key to success).” After I’ve created a synopsis, then character bios., then storylines I create the all-important Chapter-by-Chapter outline (usually 8-10 pages). In my opinion the outline IS the book, the rest is filler.
For first drafts I write 5 pages a day, every day, which means that I’ve completed the manuscript (280 pages) in a bit less than two months. I always stick to the formula: 10 pages/chapter X 28 chapters = 280 pages. Finished drafts, for me, usually run 320 pages.
Always in the morning.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
Yep, it always has to be quiet, undisturbed and have a somewhat fantastic view. I knew the minute I rented the place I’m currently in that I had to writing something while in it – so I did, a screenplay. I live in a little country house with no neighbors and views of endless rolling hills and vineyards. I also wrote the majority of THE SEVENTH RITUAL while living in a converted convent in Florence, IT.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
Simple. To get the story out of me that NEEDS to come out. You know the saying, ‘The truth will set you free?’ Well, this is exactly why I became a writer…to get all this stuff out of me so I don’t have to live with it anymore.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
The easiest question so far. Alice Walker. I only read books/stories where the protagonist suffers immeasurably and faces seemingly infinite obstacles. As I said before, lessons. Fortunately, Ms. Walker apparently appears to see life in the same way I do. Her characters come close to death with their suffering. And her endings are bittersweet at best. It wouldn’t be realistic for any of her books to have Hollywood-type (rather fake, contrived) endings. Who on earth would ever be able to relate to that?!?
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. At a school visit in Copenhagen I met a British teen, a boy, when I was conducting one of my NO TIME FOR FEAR workshops. I LOVE interaction, and loathe “speaking to/lecturing” teens. Oops…I should have said that I LOVE and respect honest communication.
I can remember that boy standing up and saying, “Clint, I don’t think I’m ever going to read any of your books because I hate reading.” He and the rest of the class were dumbstruck when they heard my reply, “So do I. I hardly ever read books. Sitting still for that long…oh my God. I never read any when I was your age.”
I went on, “Do you like movies? Maybe think of a movie you’ve seen, one that you like…that’s the easiest way to begin reading books, because you already know you’re going to like the story, the way it turns out.”
A few months passed and I got an e-mail from this same boy. He told me that on his summer vacation he chose to read one of my books, FEAR AIN’T ALL THAT. He admitted that it was the first book he’d ever read, finished. He said he liked it so much that he asked his parents to buy its sequel, DON’T BE AFRAID OF HEAVEN for his birthday, because he couldn’t wait to read it next.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
Yes, I’ve gotten those as well. In the beginning I was seeking a bit too much feedback/approval (I recommend not doing this by the way). My first book (and the three that followed it) has a protagonist that lives with the skin-blistering disease Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), quite a huge challenge in itself. I felt so lucky to have interviewed kids living with it, as well as the medical staff at the Stanford (California) Medical Center. In my books, Miguelito, who happens to live with recessive dystrophic EB, knows that the fear he’s learned is far more dangerous, even fatal, than the disease that consumes him.
The worst comment(s): “Why isn’t he more angry?” “I’d be mad all the time.” “Not realistic.” Let’s put it this way, I gave a 12-year old the wisdom of an old-timer, me. Wrong! My defence: “If Miguel were to be mad more often he would have checked out long ago. Somehow he recognized, early on, that anger would only escalate his demise and take him far from recovery.” I still believe my words, but going back, I would have added a bit more naivety to Miguel’s persona.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Clancy, this is nearly always the first question I’m asked. I’m ecstatic that it’s now turned into Number 18. ‘Things that happened in my own life’ are the only reason I became a writer…to expose the truth that needed to come out. I alluded to this earlier. I wrote to divulge, to expel…and, eventually, to heal, to move on. At 34, I discovered a murder that had been covered up in my own life, an “accident” that took place when I was only two. Honesty is of paramount importance to me; I don’t keep secrets and I don’t believe in covering anything up.
In 1960, my parents and a male friend of theirs happened to find devil worship attractive. I’ll never be able to explain why. Rather than tell you the details, I’ll instead tell you what I chose to do. I turned it all into fiction in THE SEVENTH RITUAL. Writing this book, divulging the truth, has been my catharsis. The murder committed is no longer a secret to anyone. I now look at my past as a movie…writing about it, while being able to transform it, set me free.
The writing process led me to learn my greatest lesson: practice forgiveness, acceptance and compassion…no matter what.
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED?
Four in paperback. One in hardcover. All five as e-books.
OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love hearing stories told by others; I learn from them. I love being by myself. I love nature. I love it when I choose to learn something from the life I’ve been given. I love it when the lessons I’ve chosen to learn stop repeating (themselves). I love
DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Good question. My first completed manuscript (MIGUELITO) was part of a Writer’s Digest course: its first 50 pages were professionally edited. My first two books were not. My third and fourth were edited by a very astute Swedish woman I’d met at BookExpo/Chicago in 2004; her English was better than mine. She was a professional editor. My fifth was not.
It would be my recommendation to all writers that their work be professionally edited prior to publication. Readers will FOREVER remember typos/errors, not to mention factual inaccuracies.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Going for a walk in nature by myself, with no one else around. Preferably at Lake Tahoe, Nevada. (U.S.)
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Well, what a coincidence…I’m taking a brief break from writing, from STORIES ABOUT FACING FEAR and am now focused 100% on real estate investment. Writing has never made me much money at all, and at 54, I’m tired of struggling (financially).
I’ve spent all day researching a foreclosed property at the foothills of a snow-covered mountain (close to Lake Tahoe). I’d love to actually live in the peacefulness there, what a wonderful reward that will be. I’d also like to be able to afford a
short trip back to Barcelona in the fall/winter. Having a home base (in the U.S.) again is something I look forward to.
Stories About Facing Fear: Books (http://clintadamsbooks.blogspot.com)
Stories About Facing Fear: Danny’s Story (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71iC76GonX0);
Stories About Facing Fear: Amy’s Story (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkAfzOhp620)
Many, many thanks to you, Clancy, for letting me share my thoughts about book publishing, book marketing and more. Being able to influence anyone positively with words is a gift. My advice to writers, “Write!” My advice to readers,
“Read authors you’ve never read before…you’ll surprise yourself.” Cheers to you down under, Clancy. Getting to know you and your readers has been a pleasure.
It's been a pleasure, Clint. We look forward to seeing you in the land down under. I guess the quote at the top of this post is fairly relevant to what you have told us today. Love ya work!
Thanks for listening.
I'm Clancy Tucker