Interview – Adam David Collings

 


 

In today’s post, I speak with sci-fi author Adam David Collings. Adam has stories published in Medieval Mars and Victorian Venus anthologies, as well as in Glimpses of Light and Superheroes: The Crossover Alliance Anthology V3. Last year Adam published the first episode of his Space Opera series, Jewel of the Stars (you can read my review here.)

I asked Adam a number of questions about his writing process and plans earlier this year.

 

Jeanette: Share three things that people may not already know about you.

 

Adam:

1)      My favourite thing to eat, in the world, is chicken schnitzel, served with chips and gravy.

2)      I’m both an author and a computer programmer, and I’ve managed to make it 18 years into my career without becoming a coffee drinker. I just don’t like the taste.

3)      In my late teens and early twenties, I was toying between being a writer and being an amateur film-maker, as my primary hobby. (It never occurred to me that either could be an actual career.) I settled on writing prose because it’s easier to achieve as a ‘one-man-band’. Either way, storytelling has always been in my blood. I ended up expressing the film-making desire through my Vlogging. What would I have done had YouTube not been invented?

Jeanette: That’s a good question.  What were your favourite books, movies and TV shows as you were growing up, and how have they influenced your writing?

Adam:  I loved the Cooper Kids Adventure Series by Frank Peretti growing up. Peretti taught me a lot about bringing plot threads together in an exciting climax.

I also devoured the novels of Stephen R. Lawhead. Sci-fi, Fantasy and historical fiction. One thing was common among all three. Epicness. Epicocity. Uh…they were epic.

I watched a lot of Star Trek, starting with the original series, then TNG, DS9 etc. Star Trek had a major impact on my writing, which is still very evident today in Jewel of The Stars. I learned about character development, incorporating theme into story, and how to manage an ensemble cast.

I loved a show called the Mysterious Cities of Gold when I was little. Its influence will be seen in a future season of Jewel of The Stars.

In my late teens, I was mesmerised by Babylon 5. From this, my eyes were opened to the wonders of long-form story arcs. I’m still learning to reproduce what J. Michael Straczynski did in that show.

Jeanette: I loved Babylon 5 though Star Trek and Lawhead are also favourites. Which (perhaps little-known) authors were your best reads in the last couple of years?

Adam: A little-known author I really enjoyed in the last few years was P A Baines. His Alpha series reads like classic science fiction. It’s clever, moving and entertaining. The books deserve to be much more widely known than they are.


For All Time by Meredith Resce was a fun time travel story, which explored the cultural differences between our present, and medieval times. It also had an interesting twist on romance.

Allan and Aaron Reini are a father and son team who wrote a military sci-fi thriller called Flight of The Angels. It’s something of a cross between Battlestar Galactica and The Terminator, exploring the theme of religious persecution. I’m eagerly waiting for them to release a second book in the series.

 

Jeanette:  I enjoyed For All Time. I can see my TBR pile expanding. Flight of the Angels sounds intriguing.

You have several Sci-Fi stories published now. Is this your favourite genre to write? What do you like about it? And have you ever considered exploring another genre?

Adam: I think it’s fair to say that sci-fi is my favourite genre. I have a pretty broad definition of sci-fi, and I love it all, but my favourite sub-genre is space opera.  I love the sense of wonder that sci-fi evokes. It opens our eyes, and our imaginations, to the wonders of creation. It’s also a great vehicle for exploring themes that really matter.

I’m going to paraphrase something Brandon Sanderson has been known to say.

“The reason I love fantasy is that you can do all the things that you can in every other genre. Plus, you can have dragons.”

This is how I feel about science fiction. You can have a murder mystery, a romance, a buddy-cop comedy, and you can add aliens and spaceships. Sci-fi can blend with pretty much anything, and make it even cooler.

I’m a lover of speculative fiction in general, which includes fantasy. I dabbled in fantasy (with a sci-fi setting) in my Medieval Mars story, Lynessa’s Curse. I can see myself writing more fantasy in the future (in fact, I have a project in mind).

I can’t see myself ever writing straight fiction without any speculative elements. I do have an interest in history, particularly Tasmanian History, which could lend itself to a story, but even then, it would be a time-travel story, not just straight historical fiction.

Outside of fiction, my Mum and I have discussed the idea of writing some creative non-fiction about our ancestor, John Herbert, who was a convict in the first fleet.


 

Jeanette: I love that Sanderson quote.

How did you come up with the idea of Jewel of the Stars? What have been the joys and challenges in writing the series?

Adam: As a child, and a teenager, I consumed a lot of Star Trek. Since the Trek world is modelled after naval traditions, and in particular, the US Navy, I found that a lot of real-world naval terms were familiar to me. Bridge, First officer etc. Ever since, whenever I encounter anything remotely nautical, my mind goes straight to space. A naval warship? What about a warship in space. A fishing boat? What about fishing for space-dwelling animals. When my parents went on their first cruise, my mind immediately said, “What about a cruise ship in space?” That idea wouldn’t let me go.

The story of a cruise ship in space would clearly be a large ensemble story. At least, that’s how I pictured it. Originally, I envisaged it as a giant epic novel. I was convinced I didn’t yet have the skill to write something like that, so I put it on the shelf for later. When I first discovered the episodic storytelling of Sean Platt and Johnny B Truant, I realised there was another option.

I’m a child of the TV generation. I’ve always thought of stories in terms of episodes and seasons. I wrote a lot of serial web fiction when I was at university, but didn’t think there was a serious market for that type of thing. The eBook and self-publishing revolutions changed that. Episodic fiction was perfectly suited to this new medium. Platt and Truant had proven with their series, The Beam, that there was a market for it. Once I re-framed my cruise ship story as an ongoing series, structured like a modern TV show, I knew I was ready to launch into it.

The joys of writing it come from the creative process. I’m a big-picture storyteller. I delight in dreaming up long-term story arcs, with all the twists and turns that will take place over the years. Jewel of The Stars gave me great scope for this. I’m already thinking about ideas for spin-off series.

The biggest challenge comes out of the same place. If I wanted to tell these grand stories, I had to get my head out of the clouds and focus on the details. Editing is something I must really push myself through. After all, who wants to be inserting commas and tweaking sentence structure when you could be dreaming up the plot arc for next season?

Jeanette:  You went on a family cruise last year. Some of those ships are enormous (we recently saw one that seemed to compete with the Sydney skyscrapers). In what ways did experiencing an ocean-going cruise affect your ideas about a space-going cruise ship?

Adam: The main thing was that it gave me some real-world experience of what it’s like to be on a cruise. Until then, my idea of a cruise was shaped by the movie Titanic, and travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania (both of which are technically classed as a ferries, not a cruises).

Now I have a good sense of what a modern cruise is like. I learned some of the lingo, which I was able to insert into the story. It also helped me to picture what my ship would be like inside. My shore visits to New Caledonia gave me a tiny taste of what it’s like to step into a new place, and interact with a culture that is not your own. For the first time in my life, I was the outsider. I was the foreigner. It was a strange feeling.

I documented the entire cruise on my youTube channel. If you’re interested, you can watch the adventure at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOlU7c71yrfTBqrVJNzhirdp42kPll4Kx

Of course, in space, you have to think about the different practicalities.

First of all, you can’t go up on deck. How do you deal with the swimming pool. I chose to have “magic” artificial gravity, like on Star Trek, but you have to make these decisions.


Jeanette: My family twice travelled from Melbourne to Durban by ship. The swimming pool could have done with some artificial gravity or at least inertial dampening.

So, what else are you working on at the moment?

Adam: I have a completed draft for a superhero novella, set in Australia. There’s a small press which I think might be a good fit for the story, so after I finish revising, I’m considering submitting it. It could be a good way to get another work out in the world, without having to finance the editing and publication costs myself.

I also have a co-writing project simmering in the back of my mind – the fantasy story I mentioned above. My plan is to write the first instalment, and then invite others to join me.

Right now, though, my primary focus is on Jewel of The Stars. I’m making good progress revising episode 2 (which has been the most challenging to beat into shape). I have episodes 3 and 4 already drafted. I’ll have all 6 episodes of season one drafted by the end of the year.

Jeanette: Yay, I’m looking forward to reading Episode 2, especially after a sneak peak of the first couple of chapters.  The first episode, Jewel of The Stars: Earth’s Remnant was an exciting read. I know you made some great progress in NaNoWriMo this month. Your other projects sound intriguing too.

Thanks Adam for taking the time to talk with us.

Jeanette

My Spec-Fic Favs for 2017

What have been your favourite Spec Fic reads in 2017?

This year, I’ve enjoyed the 2017 Popsugar Challenge which spurs me on to read a wide range of books. Even so, I’ve managed to squeeze in quite a few Fantasy and Sci-Fiction books and a few movies as well. So which were the ten I enjoyed the best?

 

  1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Marissa’s Meyer four book Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter) was a fantastic read, so I had high hope for Heartless – the origin story of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. And Meyer didn’t disappoint – Catherine is a wonderful character, as is Jest, the Mad Hatter and others. Meyer does a great job of weaving elements from both Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass. The tale has a lot of whimsy and humour and is compelling – though inevitably, it leads to a sad ending. My full review here.

2. The Martian by Andy Weir

For something entirely different, I managed to see the movie and read the book of this popular sci-fi tale. Told primarily through the stranded astronaut’s journal (with some scenes back on earth inserted), I loved the freshness of the story, the meticulous research in conditions on Mars, the reality of space flight, the logistics and possibilities involved. Weir makes math sound cool – which is awesome. But primarily The Martian was a human story, a story of not giving up and beating the odds. My full review here.

3. The Fated Sky by E M Swift-Hook

The Fated Sky is the first in the Transgressor’s series by E M Swift Hook – when Avilon’s space ship crash lands on the high plateau of a backward and forgotten planet at the rim of the galaxy, he is captured and catapulted into the complicated and often deadly politics of Temsevar. Told through multiple points of view, Swift-Hook does a marvellous job of bringing the planet and the characters to life. An intriguing start to the trilogy. My review is here.

4. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi includes magical realism – young Pi’s family decides to sell their Zoo and move to Canada. When the ship sinks in the storm, Pi (Piscine Molitor Patel) is trapped on life boat with Richard Parker (a Bengal Tiger), an injured zebra,  orangutan,  and a hyena. The ensuring struggle for survival is gripping – with moments of desperation, terror and wonder – and a startling twist at the end that leaves you with questions of what is real. My review is here.

5. The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

The Skin Map is the first book in the Bright Empires series. It combines time travel, alternative earths, ley lines, heroes and dastardly villains in a rollicking adventure. Kit Livingstone meets his long lost grand-father Cosmo, and finds himself pulled into the quest to find the skin map and to thwart the villainous Lord Burleigh and his men. The narrative moves around in time and place, with real danger but also recreates Restoration London (1666), 17th century Prague, 18th Macau and ancient Egypt in loving detail. While the pace is at times leisurely, I found the story immersive and enjoyable to read. I’m up for the next in the series, The Bone House.  My review is here.

6. Planet Woman by Judith Rook

Planet Woman looks at human colonisation in a distance planetary system that included sentient planets. When a threat is detected, the Planet Circe sends for an envoy from (non-sentient) First Home. Tethyn Claibrook-Merjolaine is none too pleased when she has to entertain the commanding and arrogant envoy, Lewis Brock, First Peer of the ancient Haute-Forêt family. But larger threats and dangers are in motion. This is the first book in a series and has a number of subplots. Despite some frustrations with the story-telling, it was one of those stories that left me thinking about it long after I’d read it. My review here.

7. Welcome to the Apocalypse (Pandora 1) by D L Richardson

D L Richardson’s Welcome to the Apocalypse is a wild ride.  Kelly Lawrence, Jack Minnow and Reis Anderson have special tickets to try out the immersive, virtual reality game, The Apocalypse Games,  in which players are pitted against one of a range of imagined end-of-earth scenarios – from Zombies, Alien Invasion, Clowns, Global Pandemic and so on. In theory the game lasts for 24 hours, but on this debut run something goes terribly wrong and the players are trapped in apocalypse scenario after apocalypse scenario with no contact with the outside world. What I loved about the book was Richardson managed to keep each scenario fresh and that it was as much (if not more) about the inner battles of the main characters. The ending was a little abrupt – but I look forward to reading the next in the series Welcome to the Apocalypse – Cybernexis (which has been nominated for a Ditmar prize). My review is here.

 

8. Jewel of the Stars: Earth’s Remnant by Adam David Collings

Jewel of the Stars: Earth’s Remnant is Episode 1 of Season 1 of a novella series set in space. Jewel of the Stars is a cruise liner that travels the stars, until a sudden and catastrophic invasion leaves the ship cut off from the rest of humanity and heading for unknown space to avoid certain death. Collings sets up the story and introduces an number of main characters while delivering on suspense and an exciting finish. I thoroughly enjoyed the read. The only hitch is the wait for the next episode to be published. My review is here.

 

9. Futurevision  edited by Delia Strange

Twenty Aussies authors views of the future – 20 speculative fiction story, Futurevision is a wonderful collation of local talent with a range of stories from science-fiction, fantasy, horror – some full of suspense or adventures, some funny, while most leave you thinking. My own space opera ‘Rendezvous at Alexgaia’ is included. My favourites included Nola Passmore’s ‘One Hundred Words’ (what if all electronic communication was restricted to 100 words?), Duncan Richardson’s ‘Profile’ (what if our participation in society depends on our digital imprint?) and  Sophie L MacDonald’s God and the Machine (what does it mean to be human?) My review here.

10. Tales from the Underground by Inklings Press

Another great anthology with talented writers – in this case stories that take place in the dark places under the earth – in caves, caverns, mines, tunnels and cellars.  My story is a prequel for the Under the Mountain series (Heart of the Mountain, Blood Crystal, Stone of the Sea, Shadow Crystals) – though is darker more thriller or horror than adventure.  I particularly loved Rod Edwards fabulous story of fairy with ‘Lords of Negative Space’, Claire Buss whimsical ‘Underground Scratchings’ with a lovely twist at the end, and the riveting ‘Beasts Above’ by Lawrence Harding.

and a bonus – Elven Jewel by Kasper Beaumont

Right at the cusp between old and new year, I finally read Kasper Beaumont’s Elven Jewel – the first in the Hunters of Reloria series. Despite some occasional hitches in style, it was an enjoyable read – with halflings, bond fairies, dwarves, elves, dragons, goblins, trolls, giants, reptilian invaders and rollicking adventures, a touch of romance and a few tear-jerking moments. My full review here.

As for movies

  1. The Last Jedi

It’s no secret that Star Wars fans are divided about the latest offering. I went to see it with my family on my birthday – and loved it. Okay, not perfect – it had some gross moments and maybe occasionally heavy-handed – but on the whole it keep me glued to screen, and just when I’d think the story was an echo of earlier films, it would subvert or turn it. Some spectacular visual moments, and loved the ending.

2. Twice Upon a Time

Interesting finale of Peter Calpaldi’s doctor, teamed up with the first Doctor.  It had an interesting theme – as the Doctors struggle with the need to ‘change’ in regeneration. I did like the impromptu Christmas truce in WW1 into the plot, but I felt the story was trying to do too much and so ended up doing less – and not sure what I think about the newly regenerated doctor falling out of the TARDIS. As with each changing of the guard, we will have to see how the new writers and actors take this perennial favourite.

3. Moana (Disney)

My children and I watched Moana just after Christmas with my sister, a niece, two nephews – and loved it. And then watched the DVD on Boxing Day while at my sister’s, and enjoyed it again. Moana and Maui are great characters, with strong character journeys. Visually stunning, incorporating Polynesian culture and myths, and with a great story. Well worth watching a second time.

 

And for me, the other highlight is the stories and poems published – with three poems, eight short stories, one novella (Blood Crystal) and a novel (Akrad’s Children).  It’s also great seeing reviews rolling in for Akrad’s Children and Blood Crystal.

My plans for 2018 included the sequels to Heart of the Mountain & Blood Crystal, the next book in the Akrad’s Legacy series – Rasel’s Song, a Collection – Ruhanna’s Flight and other stories, plus participating in the On the Horizon Book Bundle (Akrad’s Children will be included with 22 other great stories of speculative adventure). On the Horizon is already available for pre-order.

What were your favourite reads – and watches – for 2017? What achievements have you celebrated, what goals do you have for 2018?

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and fantastic New Year.

Jeanette O’Hagan

Akrad’s Children

It’s been a long time coming, but finally it’s here!

Cover reveal

Akrad’s Children

Four young lives bound together in friendship, love, rivalry and tragedy. A realm ravaged by civil war, a ruler scarred by betrayal, a legacy that haunts them all.

Caught between two cultures, a pawn in a deadly power struggle, Dinnis longs for the day his father will rescue him and his sister from the sorcerer Akrad’s clutches. But things don’t turn out how Dinnis imagines and his father betrays him.

Does Dinnis have a future among the Tamrin? Will he seek revenge for wrongs like his sister or forge a different destiny?

This is the first book in the Akrad’s Legacy series.

Akrad’s Children is available for pre-order 22nd September https://www.amazon.com/Akrads-Children-Legacy-Book-ebook/dp/B075BK8436/

Upcoming Events:

Futurevision launch

Fictional visions form the near to distant future
– who will we be and what challenges will we face?
Futurevision is an anthology with 20 stories by 20 Australian authors — including stories by Delia Strange, Matt Hellscream, Julian Green, Kasper Beaumount, Nola Passmore, Nyssa Baschal, Raelene Purtill and Jeanette O’Hagan.

Rendezvous at Alexgaia By Jeanette O’Hagan

In her last mission, Dana secured the Infinity Cube at the cost her partner’s life or at least humanity. Will Neon’s sacrifice be for nothing or will Dana be able to retrieve the key to the mysterious cube’s use?
Rendezvous at Alexgaia is set in the future of Nardva and is the prequel to the Chameleon Protocols trilogy.

 

The Futurevision launch is this Saturday (9th September) at Northlakes Library.  Spots have filled up – though, if you haven’t already booked,  you could put your name on the wait-list here.  It will be a great afternoon.

Oz Comic Con – Brisbane

YA spec fic authors Lynne Stringer (Verindon trilogy), Adele Jones (Baine Colton trilogy) and I have a stand tat this years Oz Comic Con 23rd-24th September. Love to see you there. To find out more check out Intricate Worlds here.

Fabulous Space Opera

Adam David Collings has released the first episode in his Jewell of the Stars series – Earth’s RemnantEarth’s Remnant is gripping novella that sets up series – a cruise ship in space fleeing from a sudden and devastating tragedy on Earth. I loved the characters, the action and the sci-fi elements in Jewell of the Stars: Earth’s Remnant. You can read my Goodreads review here.

It’s been a busy month or so getting ready for the release of Akrad’s Children and preparing for Oz Comic Con. More news soon.

Jeanette