Interview with Adam Wasserman

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up during the 1980's in suburban Rhode Island in a well-to-do Jewish family. My parents meant well, of course, but I couldn't stand the stilted, middle-class stranglehold over our lives. As Billy Connolly once observed, the poor and the rich have the luxury of being themselves, but it's the middle-class that has wholeheartedly embraced empty consumerism.

So my early writing is marked by anger and resentment against this way of life. Later on, the rebellion faded somewhat from my writing, as that battle in my personal life had been won. But there are still strong themes of power in my work. Whether it comes from those days I can't say.
Who are your favorite authors?
John Irving, Philip K Dick, Douglas Adams, Marcus Aurelius. My favorite novel is The World According to Garp.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love my fans! Whether it's a smiling face at a convention or someone reaching out on Facebook or an interesting discussion at an afternoon flea market, I enjoy hearing what they have to say. Sometimes fans tell me what they liked (or what they didn't!) about one of my books. Other times, they share a life experience relating to it. Or they simply impart their own particular wisdom. It's all good. More than the feedback, I value the experience.

Writing is a two-part process. The first - and the shortest - is the actual production and release of a book. The second goes on afterwards for as long as there are people who read and remember it. Hearing about how my work has impacted others is very rewarding.

From a certain point of view, fans are the answer to a question. Without them, writing would be an empty, futile exercise.
What is your writing process?
I tell myself the story, and then I refine it.

At first, I know how the story begins and where I think it's going. The characters are vague, cardboard cut-outs. As I write, however, the characters become clearer, richer, and they attain three dimensions. The story's direction will probably change in the course of telling it, although usually the general feel is preserved. Sometimes, a story will peter out. It may encounter a dead-end, and the process stops there. But if a story has legs, there usually comes a time when I know it will be completed.

At several points, I'll go back and re-read what I've written to ensure consistency and a pleasing flow. Eventually, the characters grow so strong that my participation in actively leading the story ebbs, and they take over. By the end, I'm a witness much like any reader.

After the first draft is completed, I'll start back at the beginning and read through the manuscript. The first pass is the most labor-intensive and involves the heavy lifting, if any. Whole sections might be cut out, new ones added, parts rearranged. After that, I'll focus on language and overall presentation.
Do you have a special time to write?
Generally, I write when I feel like it, although I try and sit down at least once a day. About a quarter of the time I'm reading over what I've already written, perhaps the last section or two. By constantly going back and then picking up where I left off, I find it easier to maintain the story's flow. It's also a good chance to add some new and important detail.

I will write at all hours of the day but prefer morning and afternoon. The sessions are rarely long - meaning less than an hour or two at the most. If I'm really involved in what I'm working on, I might squeeze several sessions in a single day, but I try not to force it. There is only so much creative energy available, although fortunately the reserve fills quickly.
Describe your desk
It's messy. In fact, there's a picture of it on my website. Wires everywhere, headphones next to my laptop, an empty candleholder in the corner, a few pieces of computer hardware from my programming work, a glass of water, some scratched up paper and a little notebook I jot ideas in. The wall I face is all glass. I like to stare at the trees when I pause to frame the next few sentences.
Where do your ideas come from?
The Universe gives them to me. That's the simple answer. The long answer is that there are different kinds of ideas: smaller threads of meaning that find their home woven into something larger, fragments of a scene, the glimpse of a character being him or herself, etc. These ideas form a kind of soup, a ready pool of material to draw from when something unifying comes along.

By larger or unifying I mean a concept for a short story, play, or novel. Why a particular story ends up in play or novel form, I can't say. The way I see it, the story was already there and my role as author is merely to uncover and present it, so if it comes out as a play, it was always a play.
Were you good in English at school?
Not particularly. When I was a teenager and into my twenties, I focused on the creative nature of writing and neglected the basics of English grammar and proper word usage. I believed that the essence of the art itself would shine through any technical errors, which could easily be corrected by any editor.

It was only when I learned Latin that I gained an appreciation for the structure of language - not to mention how regularly abused the English language actually is. Since that day, I like to believe I've improved my basic English language skills. In fact, I'm still working on it.
Do you ever get writer's block?
Rarely. In fact, I can't remember the last time it was a serious problem. Usually, if I sit down to write and nothing comes out, it's because either I'm not satisfied with where I left off, or I'm not ready to go forward as I intended. In the former case, the remedy is to go back in the manuscript and start cutting. It will actually feel good because I'll have just gotten rid of the source of the problem. Now I can carry on. Except this time I'll proceed with the story in a more satisfactory way, perhaps even borrowing some memes from the trashed excerpts. In the latter case, I'll simply take the story in another direction. It's important never to get too attached to any particular scene. The Muses can have different ideas than the author about how best to develop a story, and they always win.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to do it myself. Of course, I recognize I cannot attain that crisp, clean result that is the hallmark of the professionals, but that's okay. My covers stand out for what they are: unique creations, specially tailored for each book.

Usually, there is some image in my head derived from the action in the book. I try and piece it together using portions of images I have created or found on the internet. Gimp is a great, free alternative to Photoshop for doing this. For one book, The Grey Life, an artist friend of mine (and big fan of the book!) graciously offered one of his paintings.

The main image on the front cover is usually a square. The rest of the space I use for the title, either above or below. For the back, it depends on the book. Sometimes I place a related image, but not always. Descriptive text belongs there, so whatever I use can't be busy or it will interfere.
What do you do to get book reviews?
I write books, and I hope that if people feel so inclined they will provide a review.

No doubt, the reviews help - positive or negative, provided their authors say something useful about their experience reading the book. But I feel that reviews are for readers, not writers, so I try not to influence the process.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Fortunately, I have several goals I'm actively working towards, and the little progress I make each day provides a certain satisfaction. So getting out of bed is a joy - at least after the first cup of coffee! If I'm going to swim or lift weights, I usually do it in the morning. There's nothing like a bit of exercise to improve the day's prospects.

Life is generous to all of us, provided we keep our expectations in check and choose not to dwell on its disappointments. I feel blessed that there is harmony between my wants, my needs, and my opportunities. But it wasn't always so. I think a lot of my earlier work reflects that.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
It depends on the season, I suppose. In the cooler part of the year, I live in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. I swim regularly in a pool and do programming work as needed. In the warmer part of the year, I am in Rhode Island swimming in the ocean, participating in conventions and festivals, and spending time with family.

Cooking is a pleasure which can be enjoyed any time of year, and I prepare most of my own meals. I enjoy travel, too. Not to mention a good party!
What advice would you give your younger self?
Lighten up.
Published 2016-01-19.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Silence in Heaven (Short Story #6)
Price: Free! Words: 9,230. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » General
When their oracles fall inexplicably silent, the people of Miridia send two emissaries out into the world to seek out the gods. A mythical fantasy. Ms. Wellington's Oak Tree is a collection of short works spanning a variety of genres. Enjoy!
Ms. Wellington's Oak Tree (Short Story #3)
Price: Free! Words: 2,720. Language: English. Published: May 27, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Literature » Literary
A lonely old woman awakes one morning to find that the butcher has climbed into her tree. A quirky little love story. Ms. Wellington's Oak Tree is a collection of short works spanning a variety of genres. Enjoy!
Contamination Event (Short Story #1)
Price: Free! Words: 8,980. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Hard sci-fi
The planet Zarmina is an object of scientific research with its curious life forms and vast planetary ocean. But when amateurs from Earth arrive looking for fun and entertainment, the situation turns volatile. Contamination Event is the first in a collection of related hard science fiction short stories detailing the wonders and perils of the cosmos.
Can I Be Of Some Assistance
Series: The Bunker, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 94,400. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Welcome (back again) to the Bunker, an orderly, underground utopia where everyone's needs have been satisfied.
Today's Edition
Series: The Bunker. Price: Free! Words: 38,180. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Greetings, citizen, and welcome to the Bunker! An underground, egalitarian dreamland, its people work diligently, eat slop, and watch the tube. Traitors are bent on destroying this heavenly utopia. Fortunately, Control has instituted a regime of security clearances to promote the most trustworthy and enlist their aid against the rising terrorist threat. There's absolutely nothing to worry about.
Your Call Is Important To Us
Series: The Bunker, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 83,380. Language: English. Published: May 30, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
Barney Max is a trustworthy citizen with an impeccable record of achievement. But one daystretch on his way to Mars for an interplanetary conference, he finds himself added to the Thousand Most Wanted List. Deprived of his daily comforts, he is forced to confront a reality he has struggled his whole life to deny. The second in the Bunker series of sci-fi adventure novels.
Thank You For Your Cooperation
Series: The Bunker, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 79,820. Language: English. Published: November 16, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
As far back as he can remember, Terry Renfield has been digging up uranium ore in the mines and getting into the occasional drunken brawl. Until one daystretch on the Loyalty Stretch, he and the rest of the Bunker see someone who looks eerily like himself commit a heinous act of treason. The first in the Bunker series of sci-fi adventure novels.
Ms. Wellington's Oak Tree
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,300. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Literary collections » American / General
This collection of short stories is drawn from the author's earliest work and covers a range of genres, including fantasy, magic realism, and political satire.
The Grey Life
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 129,240. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Plays & Screenplays » American, Fiction » Biographical
David Berkowitz attends the Johns Hopkins University in 1991 where he gets mixed up in drugs and insanity. Combined with a violent home life, David can't quite cope with his experiences. Later on, as the world crumbles around him, he remains curiously unaffected. For he is still held in thrall by the events that occurred in that short time - and the girl he loved and lost.
The Politics of Consumption
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 27,600. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Business, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Imagine a world where the outcome of political debate is arranged beforehand. Imagine a world where we are too busy working to care. Imagine a world where we get to feel good about ourselves. A farcical depiction of the struggles between the world's power brokers: the Holy Man and the Politician, and later on the Capitalist and Communist as well. They must eventually come to an end...
Bringing Down the House
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 25,920. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2010. Categories: Screenplays » Comedy, Fiction » Humor & comedy » General
The mayor against a bunch of squatters! They are planning to make a big bust and run, but he's on to them. Or is he? Meet the squatters: Clemens, Paz, Ivo, and Emile. They smoke too much and watch too much TV. Meet the city's eccentric mayor, Vladimir. He's convinced they are his ticket to promotion, and it's up to his lackey, Cramer, to try and convince him otherwise. Enjoy the play!
Gyges the Terrible
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 162,200. Language: English. Published: August 4, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
What would you be like if you could do anything you wanted and feared no punishment?