Happy New Year everyone!
I am stoked to be able to bring you the latest instalment of our 'Aussie Authors in Focus' series. Late last year I had the privilege of interviewing rising author Dan Adams. Dan had recently published his first epic fantasy, entitled Brave Men Die, and I was able to chat to him about this and his writing career up until this point.
Dan Adams, welcome to Smash Dragons! Tell us a bit about yourself, and your novel Brave Men Die?
Hi, thanks for having me. One of the first things to know about me is that I don’t love talking about myself! So, I’m a Sydney writer and Brave Men Die is my first epic fantasy – it follows two brothers at the frontline of a war, trying to stay alive while keeping hold of their own humanity.
What motivated you to write Brave Men Die? What/who are your writing influences?
I’m a massive fan of epic fantasy and have always wanted to tell my own story. When I was growing up I read Raymond Feist, Robin Hobb and James Barclay – they really were my early influences when I started. Recently I’ve been reading Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie and I’m inspired by their impact on the genre.
What challenges presented themselves as you worked on Brave Men Die? Did you undertake much research in order to ensure your novel was as gritty and real as possible?
Growing up reading so many brilliant fantasy stories, I felt Brave Men Die had a lot to live up to. Readers who would read my book would have also read the authors that I had, and they would expect a great story. I re-wrote it so many times; fight scenes, dialogue, I just wanted to make it the best story I possibly could. I learned to sword fight so that the combat would be realistic, and I’ve read a lot of military history to understand what tactics would work on the battlefield.
What was behind the decision to release Brave Men Die as an ebook? Do you think the ebook market is now a viable and profitable option for aspiring writers?
The ebook market is an exciting area for new writers to find and build an audience. You can experiment with prices and promotions in a way that’s not viable with print books.
One of the things I noticed about your novel was its exhilarating and often bloody action. How do you write a fight scene? What are the elements, in your opinion, that make a fight scene both exciting and realistic?
I reckon it’s the fact that it all likelihood one of the combatants is going to die. Once you admit that to yourself, you start thinking about your characters, the weapons they are carrying, the situation they are in. You realise who is going to be walking away and then write it. I try to write fight scenes with as much pace as possible to speed the action up.
I loved the interplay and relationship of Castor and Pollux. It reminded me of times I have had with my brother in the past. Did you draw from your own personal experiences at all when writing Brave Men Die?
Thanks, writing the moments between the brothers were some of my favourites. I have a younger brother and the competitiveness that we shared growing up and the pride we had in each other when we succeeded at something – I worked that into Castor and Pollux. There’s a balance between sibling rivalry and family pride that I really wanted to convey to make the relationship real.
Hypothetical from left field... you are chosen to fight in your cities gladiatorial arena. You are allowed any medieval weapon of your choice to use. What weapon do you choose, and why?
Bastard sword. You have the option of using it single-handed or wield it like a longsword. It’s also versatile, lets you attack and defend. Plus it helps that I already know how to use it.
What are you working on right now? Can you tell us a little about it?
I’m currently working on book 2 in the Battle Brothers series. I’m being careful not to give away any spoilers but Castor’s unit starts deploying some real guerrilla-style tactics against the Empire and Pollux is really struggling to keep his men alive in the gruelling battle for Black Claw. And characters start to cross paths too, bringing together some storylines but also creating new twists.
Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
Writing. It’s all I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid, and I work on achieving that every day. The Battle Brothers series will be complete by then, and I’ll be working on the next series. Maybe some side projects too; some short stories, some stand-alone novels. Whatever takes my fancy, really.
Finally, best writing advice you have ever received?
Someone once told me that no matter how good a writer you think you are, your first draft is always going to be shit. Writing is about refining, rewriting, being prepared to delete parts that aren’t working.
Dan Adams, thank you for taking the time to talk to Smash Dragons!
No worries, it’s been fun.