Interview with Adam Bender

What's the story behind your new novel?
The Wanderer and the New West reinvents the Western novel with a dystopian outlook on a possible America that fully protects the rights of armed citizens to stand their ground.

After writing two dystopian novels about totalitarian governments, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the dangers of the opposite situation happening -- too little government and too much deregulation. With so many terrible shootings happening in America and a lack of political will to do anything about it, I decided that guns was the issue I wanted to tackle. The Western genre seemed the most natural way to tell the story, and I was excited to try to modernize a genre that is classic but perhaps too associated with the past. By combining the fun action and adventure of that genre with a very current issue, I hope I've created an entertaining book that also contributes to the gun debate.
What's the story behind your We, The Watched series?
My novel We, The Watched and its sequel Divided We Fall is dystopian fiction about a nation where the government keeps close surveillance of its citizens. There is no separation of church and state, so the government isn’t just looking for criminal activity – they are watching for anything they deem to be heresy, which is a great blanket term.

The story came from my feeling somewhat helpless in the wake of 9/11 as the US government passed a series of national security laws to increase surveillance called the PATRIOT Act.

I was fascinated not only by the surveillance itself, but the rationale for it. Everyone was feeling pretty vulnerable and so it was hard not to accept anything that was pitched as preventing another terrorist attack. Besides, how could anyone be against something called the PATRIOT Act?
How do you approach cover design?
This has evolved over time. At first I tried to do it myself, but have learned the importance of finding great collaborators.

My debut novel We, The Watched actually has had three covers. The first used a really cool photograph I took of a pigeon standing near a flame. The problem with this really cool photo, of course, was that it didn't communicate much about the novel. I reworked the design to look like a CCTV sign which was much more direct. However, when I decided to do a paperback, I realized that the cover I created wasn't going to cut it. It looked fine as an eBook, but I knew I needed something more detailed for print. I decided to hire a professional cover designer named Belinda Pepper. She took the CCTV sign concept and created a much more professional design. I immediately hired Belinda again to do the cover for the sequel, Divided We Fall.

My third novel is not part of the We, The Watched series and a different genre (Western), so I decided to bring in a new cover designer! I found Ben McLeod, an artist from Manchester, Great Britain! Ben previously created art for an array of cool clients like Disney and 20th Century Fox, working on such popular franchises as Star Wars and X-Men. His design for my novel The Wanderer and the New West adds gritty modern style to classic Western imagery, perfectly fitting with the themes of my novel.
When did you first start writing?
I have been writing since the day I first held a crayon! I actually had a series called "The Strange Planet" that I made using black construction paper and a white crayon. The planet was only strange because I knew I wouldn't be able to draw the planet consistently with the same shape and size on each page.

Then, from grades one through six we had something called "Young Authors." Each year we'd have to write a book. I loved comics, so of course all of my books were about superheroes. I made them up myself. The leader of the heroes, Spy Boy, is actually referenced briefly in my novel We, The Watched as a part of that world's popular culture. There are approximately three people in the world who will pick that up.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think for me it's the character interactions and the sudden inspirations that pop out of the ether when I sit down to write. When I write a scene I always know the starting point and the ending point, but I like to play things pretty loose in terms of what happens in between. Sometimes the characters say (or do) things to each other that I didn't expect.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ray Bradbury is probably at the top of the list because he creates such vivid, powerful images with his words. Fahrenheit 451 is a big influence on We, The Watched, probably more than the more obvious choice of 1984 by George Orwell. I also love Kurt Vonnegut. He's got this amazing succinct, crisp writing style. He says so much in so few words.

Finally, there are a lot of amazing comic book writers out there who I read regularly. Jeff Lemire, Ed Brubaker and Scott Snyder are some of my current favorites.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Like Rosa Veras from The Wanderer and the New West, I work by day as a journalist. I currently cover telecom and internet regulatory debates like net neutrality for Communications Daily, a trade publication from Washington, DC. I've also worked for Computerworld, CIO and Techworld in Sydney, Australia. Tech journalism continues to influence my creative writing and I’m always jotting down notes for things I can use in future stories!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Publishing is a tough industry that's going through a lot of change. While I'd love to be traditionally published, I'm more interested in getting my stories out to readers, and self-publishing currently is the best way for me to do that. It used to be that if you didn't get picked up by a publisher, your work stayed buried in a drawer. Nowadays you can start building a readership all by yourself!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I wouldn't have sold a thing without Smashwords. Its expanded distribution has brought my work to many of the popular eBook stores including Apple and Barnes & Noble. It gives my readers options to read my stories on whatever device they like.
What do your fans mean to you?
Any writer who tells you they have never doubted the quality of their work is probably a liar. So, finding out that someone has enjoyed one of my stories is an incredible motivator! I love hearing from fans and if you send me a message I will do my utmost to respond!
What are you working on next?
I'm currently writing a satire about a PR agent for a dystopian government. Our Leader is constantly getting himself into messes, and it's Blake "The Hammer" Hamner's job to spin his way out of them. I was originally writing it as a short story, but had so much fun with the concept that I decided it deserved more ink!
Published 2018-02-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Wanderer and the New West
Price: $4.99 $2.50 USD. (50% off until May 29!) Words: 100,890. Language: English. Published: January 16, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Western, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
A rogue vigilante seeks redemption in a lawless, near-future America that fully protects the rights of armed citizens to stand their ground against mass shooters and motorcycle gangs. The Wanderer and the New West reinvents the Western novel with a dystopian outlook on a possible American future.
A LifeTrade Wedding
Series: LifeTrade · Short Stories by Adam Bender. Price: Free! Words: 3,440. Language: English. Published: April 8, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
(3.00)
Read about the next direction of matchmaking apps – exchanging lives! A reluctant groom leaves his bride at the altar by trading places with a man who wants to be married. A series of testimonials by the wedding party shows how LifeTrade can give everyone a “happily ever after."
Invasion Day
Series: Short Stories by Adam Bender. Price: Free! Words: 2,870. Language: American English. Published: December 4, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
(4.50)
On his tenth birthday, a boy living on the moon asks his grandpa about the blue planet glowing in the forever-night sky, and why they live the way they do. A short story by the author of We, The Watched.
Fire Eyes
Series: We, The Watched, short story tie-in · Short Stories by Adam Bender. Price: Free! Words: 6,340. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
For years, underground street artist Ignatius has dodged surveillance cameras to spray-paint a dissident symbol: a dark visage with fiery eyes. Dissatisfied with his impact on the totalitarian country he calls home, Iggy sets his sights on tagging the most important government building in the nation. But will the soldiers of the Guard let him get away with it?
Divided We Fall
Series: We, The Watched, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 86,500. Language: English. Published: May 10, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Amid threat of global war, a government agent must arrest her fiancé after he loses his memory and becomes a revolutionary.
Smokers Corner
Series: Short Stories by Adam Bender. Price: Free! Words: 3,280. Language: American English. Published: February 13, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General, Fiction » Romance » Short stories
(4.00)
Tim loses his addiction for the ho-hum after falling for Samantha during a smoking break. A short romantic comedy.
Life Trade
Series: LifeTrade · Short Stories by Adam Bender. Price: Free! Words: 3,130. Language: American English. Published: January 5, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
(4.00)
What if a stranger took over the part of your best friend? In "Life Trade," a would-be screenwriter seeks answers after his buddy is replaced by someone new. He discovers a matching website for people who want to trade places.
We, The Watched
Series: We, The Watched, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. (Free until May 29!) Words: 52,020. Language: English. Published: May 12, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.00)
An amnesiac struggles to conform in a surveillance society where the government keeps a Watched list of its own citizens. Seven’s blank-slate perspective lets him see through the propaganda, but attracts the eyes of the Guard.