Interview with Adam Bender

What's the story behind your latest book?
My novel We, The Watched and its upcoming 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?
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.

I have to say, too, that I really respect what Hugh Howey has done with the Wool series. He's a great writer and as a self-published author he is a major inspiration.

Finally, there are a lot of amazing comic book writers out there who I read regularly. Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, Scott Snyder, Brian Azzarello are some of my current favorites.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing creatively, I'm writing news as a journalist! I currently cover technology for Computerworld, CIO and Techworld in Sydney, Australia. Prior to that I covered the US Congress and their work on telecom and other tech issues for a trade pub called Communications Daily.

Tech journalism continues to influence my creative writing and I’m always jotting down notes for things I can use in future stories!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
There's not really one single way. Sometimes it's recommendations from friends and family, other times it's that I read an interesting article about a particular author. Recently, I was curious about a genre I hadn't read much of (Western) so I did a Google search to find out the best in the genre.

I do depend on Goodreads quite a bit to remember all the books I want to read next.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The honest truth is that traditional publishing is tough! I submitted my first novel to several agents, but the market was extremely competitive, especially for a first-time author.

I decided to put the novel out there myself as an eBook on Smashwords in 2008. This year I am releasing the first print edition through CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon.

I'm still pursuing agents with my latest novel, but it's beyond great to have a platform to get my work out there in the meantime. 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.
How do you approach cover design?
This has evolved over time. We, The Watched has actually 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 print version of We, The Watched I realized that cover 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 go ahead and hire a professional cover designer named Belinda Pepper. She took the CCTV sign concept and really ran with it! I think the final cover is better than I could have ever imagined. It's even cooler than that pigeon photo!
What are you working on next?
I’ve already written a sequel to We, The Watched called Divided We Fall, which I am currently pitching to agents but hope to release early next year. It was a quarter-finalist in this year’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards, and I got a great review from Publishers Weekly.

While We, The Watched is straight dystopian, the sequel is more of an action and love story.

After finishing the sequel, I decided to write a screenplay of We, The Watched. The novel already had a lot of cinematic elements and I was interested in learning the medium. This is currently in the works.

Finally, I'm in the research and planning stages of a new novel. It's a brand new story not related to We, The Watched. But that's all I can say for now.
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!
Published 2013-08-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Divided We Fall
Series: We, The Watched. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 85,980. Language: English. Published: May 10, 2014. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
The war has come home. The mission has failed. But all Eve wants is to get Jon back. Agent Eve Parker refuses to accept Jon’s change of heart when he loses his memory and becomes a revolutionary known as Seven. But when Eve learns more about the President’s plan to broaden citizen surveillance, she begins to question what she’s always believed to be right.
Smokers Corner
Price: Free! Words: 3,180. Language: American English. Published: February 13, 2013. Category: Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
Tim loses his addiction for the ho-hum after falling for Samantha during a smoking break. A short story by the author of We, The Watched.
Life Trade
Price: Free! Words: 2,990. Language: American English. Published: January 5, 2013. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
What if a stranger took over the part of your best friend? In "Life Trade," a directionless dude seeks answers after his buddy is replaced by someone new. He discovers a matching website for people who want to trade places. A short story by the author of We, The Watched.
We, The Watched
Series: We, The Watched. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 51,220. Language: English. Published: May 12, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
An amnesiac struggles to conform in a nation that administers a Watched List of its own citizens. He meets people who accept invasive surveillance by the government and forced uniformity by the church as necessary safeguards for protecting national security. But will the fresh perspective from his rebirth be a blessing or a curse?