Adam Lane Smith Talks Faith, Psychology and Culture
Adam Lane Smith is the author of the Science-Fantasy genre blend novel Making Peace, about a pampered romance author who gets stuck with a crew of soldiers on a backwater planet as they’re tasked with tracking down a serial killer and an assassin to prevent a civil war. Adam is also working on an upcoming Neolithic Fantasy series about hunters who use magic and giant weapons to hunt massive creatures.
EJ: Hi Adam. So tell us a little about yourself.
Adam: I was born in California, right in the heart of the desert and meth territory. There’s not much there except drugs, minimum wage service jobs, and trying not to get shot. My parents were very poor and worked two jobs each just to keep us afloat. I certainly wasn’t the bottom rung of society, but I’ll just say that throughout my life I’ve become familiar with low-income housing and food stamps. I talk about this quite a bit in my afterword of Making Peace, and this upbringing helped create the setting for the city of Tiers.
My wife and I worked multiple jobs and took out loans to get educated. Now I’ve got a Master of Arts degree in Psychology and I work as a clinical psychotherapist treating mostly low-income families, and I specialize treating in severe trauma. When we decided to have kids we moved to the upper Midwest and now we live on a farm in the middle of nowhere, just outside of a tiny village.
Outside of writing I enjoy martial arts, time with my kids, bad jokes, video games, roleplaying games, target practice, and engaging with people on the topics of psychology and sociology.
EJ: So you published Making Peace in January 2018. Tell us a little about your road to publication.
Adam: The book actually took 3 years from conception to publication. It began as a fantasy novel written in a publisher/author’s world as a favor to that author to expand their brand. After the 2016 election that person decided that I as a Christian was now their enemy. They informed me the program we were using to share notes was now their “safe space” and I was not allowed to contact them outside of business and that we were no longer friends in any fashion. They also made thinly veiled threats about starting a campaign of complaints to get me fired from my day job because of my religious faith. They also ceased to refer to me by name and simply referred to me as “Christian.”
I backed out of that arrangement (arguably was left with no choice) and converted the book to my own sci-fi setting while retaining much of the fantasy feel. I finished writing after about 2 ½ years and then began my editing phase which flowed quite well. I sent it to my editor expecting minimal corrections and received back a document awash in ink and comments. I took another few months editing and changing the book to be presentable and then published it to almost unanimous perfect review scores. I’ll always be grateful to my editor Brian Niemeier for helping me turn a lump of garbage into a smash hit.
The best lesson I can impart to new writers is to trust the process. Don’t edit while you’re writing the first draft and don’t expect one editing pass to be enough. I was on my fourth draft before I sent the book to my editor. Read your book over and over until you’re almost sick of it.
EJ: When did you know you wanted to write? What were your influences?
Adam: Books were my escape from the violence outside. We lived surrounded by gangs competing for territory and gunshots were almost constant, so loud that you had to stop conversation. Many times we had to shut the blinds and lay on the floor with the parents on top and kids underneath because it looked like the violence was about to come spilling inside our home. Reading was my only outlet away from that violence and my mother instilled a deep passion for literature in me from infancy. When I realized I could make stories of my own, something clicked deep inside.
My influences early on were the Dragonlance books as well as Stephen King and Anne Rice. As I’ve grown, I’ve been more influenced by Japanese storytellers in anime, manga, light novels, and video games. Final Fantasy fed heavily into Making Peace, but so did the Black Company books.
As for the catalyst, continuing with the book was partly spite against SJWs trying to drown me out and partly because of the community I found myself engaged with. Nick Cole was one author I reached out to after my first publisher attacked me for my religious faith, and his advice kept me encouraged and productive.
EJ: Do you have anything else in the works?
Adam: I am currently working on two series. One is a fantasy set in Neolithic times during early agriculture and is about giant monsters roaming the world. Hunters with magic abilities kill and harvest the monsters. My second series is a father/son military sci-fi space opera with giant mecha and space battles.
EJ: Your Twitter profile mentions you are a Catholic, and opposed to censorship and politicization. What role does religion play in your life as a storyteller, and how do you keep politicization out of storytelling?
Adam: I work hard to keep political and religious influences from creeping overtly into my books. Stories should foremost be entertaining, so the last thing I want is to write message fiction. That said, I incorporate a lot of biblical themes including the decadence and misery of Judges, the story of Josiah bringing the law back to the people, self-sacrifice, virtue, and honesty above all.
EJ: What advice would you give people who are looking to become storytellers? What mistakes did you make, and what lessons did it teach you?
Adam: It is hard work but also tremendously fun and rewarding. Those who are not willing to put in long hours and publish several books without profit will not see any benefit to this career. Those who have a passion for writing and would write even if they never make a dime will probably do well. But get engaged with the community and find other authors to connect with. Half of the work in this field is marketing and most of that is about networking.
EJ: Do you believe we are affected by the characters and stories we are exposed to? If so, can you name three characters and the stories they are from that you feel had a profound effect on your personality as an adult, and what effect that was?
Adam: Since ancient times, stories have been used to impart messages and teach morals. Stories are an innate part of being human. I’ve got three examples of characters who’ve impacted me:
Wolverine from the X-Men and his complete disregard for the mindless bellowing of the fools around him, but also his intense and passionate love for the people who needed his help and guidance and his unswerving loyalty to adopted family.
Roland the Gunslinger from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series (the books) and his relentless pursuit of his mission. He didn’t let anything stop him and instead looked for his next way through every challenge.
Luke Skywalker (original trilogy) and his incredible passion for doing what was right no matter what it cost him, to give everything in service to others and to never despair.
EJ: What’s on your playlist?
Adam: I’ll name three: Snowblind by Au5, Alliez by Sawano Hiroyuki, and Sound of Silence by Disturbed.