Friday, 10 July 2015

An Interview with C. C. Adams

It was an honour to have organised this year's Australian Horror Writers' Association Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition. Congratulations to the winners, J. Ashley Smith and Zoe Downing. The three judges also gave several honourable mentions, and C. C. Adams was one of them. I enjoyed his tale and invited him to answer of few questions about his writing.
 
1. Congratulations on your honourable mention in the Australian Horror Writers' Association Short Story and Flash Fiction Competition and thanks for the opportunity to read your work and ask you a few questions. You have a devilish tale being published this Halloween in "Crossroads In The Dark" from Burning Willow Press. Without giving too much away, can you tell us what inspired you to write "I'm Taking You With Me"?
 
Every summer, I'm out in Toronto with friends, one of whom is Nella - who the story's dedicated to. Last summer, she'd told us a story about the apartment block she grew up in. There was a suicide nearly twenty years back where a guy jumped from one of the higher floors. The part that stuck with me was that he landed with such force that the impact tore his fingers off. And the more I rolled this scene around in my head, the more I began to craft a story from it.
 
2. You live in London, one of the world's great literary capitals. Do you have any favourite haunts where you go to write or think your stories through?
 
Mmmm, it's less about where I go to kick-start the process and more about what scenery I want to capture. London's one of the major cities on the planet. I might want to capture the London chic of the Shard bar, 32 floors up with a panoramic view of the city. Or the sweaty intimacy of the Jazz CafĂ© where you're packed shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Maceo Parker on stage, or whether it's raining in the city and my aunt's old block of flats is all damp and cold in the stairwell. Even if it's just a crowded late-night Tube/subway train full of flirty high-heeled women: I just want to paint that picture of London as a character, just like the people in it.
 
3. Do you find that there are recurring themes in your stories or are they all different from each other?
 
I like to explore fear, which I think is perceived as only a human sensibility. Sure, a mouse might be scared of a cat, but that cat isn't likely to see the mouse as anything more than food. The mouse's fear is of little consequence to the cat - and so it goes with the characters I write. Of course, the cat may have something else to fear too.
 
4. What are you working on at the moment?
 
Currently outlining a novel/la called Akhtar's Veil. Now I take more of a cinematic view with the outlining in terms of how I want the scenes to look and the characters to be. Once the outline is strong enough for me, then I can start hammering out the first draft.
 
5. Tell us about your writing rituals. Do you have a drink, music, special underwear that helps you get the words out?
 
Special underwear? Man, my team will love that one... I tell you what I do: it's not enough for me to have quiet, but I need solitude. I don't want to hear doors opening and closing near me, no conversation/TV/etc. from a neighbouring room, no roadworks/maintenance outside, nothing like that. Once I have that level of isolation, it's easier to fade out from this world and sink myself into the one I'm writing.
 
6. If you could invite any five authors from any time period to dinner, who would they be?
 
Whoa! I'm not sure I could come up with five. That's a tall order. Probably the first pick would be Michael Crichton. What I like about his work is that even though the narrative is very kinetic and visual, he's meticulous with the detail and rationale behind it. Jo Nesbo for his Harry Hole books because those are engaging and entertaining. Brian Keene for his blunt and visceral narrative: The Rising is still my favourite zombie story anywhere: book, TV or film. Kelley Armstrong, since she provided the forum where I got deeper into writing and beat my first NaNoWriMo challenge. And Ian O'Neill who's always been on hand to support and offer wise counsel.
 
7. Have you read any Australian horror or seen any horror movies from down under?
 
Not entirely sure - my bad. Do Ghost Ship and Queen Of The Damned count?
 
8. What scares you?
 
Horror films! Which surprises people, given what I write. I don't watch them now, but I grew up watching them: The Evil Dead, Salem's Lot, Phantasm, Halloween, etc. FYI, my favourite film of all time is John Carpenter's "The Thing". I watched that since I was about 10 years old. Not scared once by it - it's just well-crafted work and wholly absorbing. But that's scared a lot of people.
 
9. What are your passions besides writing?

Food - definitely food. I'm known for a decent appetite, plus I'm up for different cuisines. At 5 meals a day, I'm often at the mercy of my stomach. Lifting weights helps keep some degree of size and strength on me, but I really do need to get back into kung fu. The muse and the business of writing have kept me busy over the last few months, so none of the joyful stretches, sparring, etc. for a while now.
 
10. If somebody reads one of your stories and enjoys it, what should he or she do next?
 
Engage with me: love it or hate it, I wanna hear about it. It's just humbling and cool to move people. And maybe scare seven shades out of them.
 
You can find out more about C. C. Adams here: http://www.ccadams.com/

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