Dark fiction author John C Adams is chatting with me about Blackacre Rising.
John C Adams is a nonbinary writer of fantasy and horror fiction. They are also a reviewer with the British Fantasy Society, the Horror Tree and Schlock! Webzine.
John has had short fiction published in Swords and Sorcery Magazine, Sirens Call Magazine, the Horror Zine, Devolution Z Magazine, Lovecraftiana Magazine and many other small publications. You can also read their short fiction in anthologies from Lycan Valley Press, Horrified Press, Fantasia Divinity and Jersey Pines Ink.
Longlisted twice for the Aeon Award, John has also been runner up for the Enrico Charles Literary Award. They have a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing from Newcastle University.
They are an Oxford graduate and non-practising solicitor, living in Northumberland UK but conducting the ultimate long-distance relationship with their boyfriend in Pennsylvania.
Please tell us about your current release.
Blackacre Rising is the sequel to my debut novel Souls for the Master. It starts off exactly where the prequel ended, with the resistance betrayed by one of their own and the three key characters forced to flee the Metropolis. Gerald takes Don and Ivy north to his cousin Brett Flint's farmhouse at Blackacre, but they soon discover that unique perils await them under its ancient roof. Gerald heads back south, hoping to confront Janus and persuade him to rejoin the resistance, but en route he's captured by members of the old regime, the authorities whose power crumbled when the resistance rose up and challenged the Master. As they wait for help from Gerald that may never arrive, Don and Ivy explore the farmhouse and build an uneasy alliance with the powers that reside within its walls. It isn't long before they both set off on missions of their own, each one fraught with danger.
What inspired you to write this book?
Souls for the Master ended on a note of betrayal, threatening everything that the resistance had just achieved. I've been itching to explore the consequences of Janus's weakness ever since finishing Souls for the Master. I wanted to really get into the tensions it would engender within the remaining resistance membership over how to counter his abandoning everything they had fought so hard to build. I also wanted to see how the heroes of the first book would respond to their plans spinning out of control. Would they be resilient, or would losing everything they'd worked for bring them to an irreversible point of cynicism where they accepted that their hope of building a better world without the overweening power of the Master was a futile dream?
Excerpt from Blackacre Rising:
Twenty-three-year-old trainee surgeon Gerald Flint pressed his foot on the accelerator as soon as they were clear of the Metropolis. Angry at the betrayal that had seen his group flee the capital, he slammed the pedal to the floor. Now that he was through the capital’s suburbs, his black car would devour the miles as they sped north.
Dusk softened the May evening, and he revelled in a blast of warmth as he wound down his window. Exhaustion sank down into his body in a dull ache deep in his muscles, but joy at being away from the Master's Thought Control thrilled his soul. Not even his terror of being rounded up and shot could obliterate his relief at being free at last.
The three of them were out of the city, Gerald reminded himself, but he, Don and Ivy were far from safe. Janus Fidens would be celebrating back in the Metropolis along with the rest of the resistance, and Gerald had intended to be there until he overheard Janus's plans for his closest allies. It was shocking that someone who fought tirelessly to overthrow the authorities could be so easily corrupted by power, but Janus wasn't the first. Others had fallen prey to this very temptation.
Ivy Spires stared out of the passenger window, mesmerised by the bushes and trees flashing past. She'd grown up in the urban wasteland of West Metropolis. The eighteen-year-old twisted the ends of her long black hair around her slender fingers. Her dark-purple nail polish was chipped, and there was dirt under her fingernails. Her high-boned face was inscrutable as she internalised her response to Janus's behaviour. The aroma of the perfume she'd worn to the celebration party after the resistance took control of government lingered, and its allure penetrated Gerald's mind as he drove.
Even as he longed to know her inner thoughts, he didn’t push her to talk. She’d come with him despite her wariness in trusting him, but they barely knew each other. Working for a common goal had brought them closer in the past few days, but he was asking her to believe someone she’d known for years was a traitor to the very cause they fought for. He decided to give her whatever space she needed to work through that she could trust him. Survival instinct saved her when she was growing up in the Metropolis, and it hadn't let her down now. She'd agreed to come with him and convinced Don to join them. Let that be enough for now, he thought.
Don Allwood was asleep in the back seat. The lad’s head lolled onto his skinny chest, and his straw-blond hair fell across his pasty face. He snuffled into a snore, mumbling in a strange, unrecognisable language.
The poor kid was drained by the combat of the past forty-eight hours. The fifteen-year-old took far greater risks than anyone else in the resistance until his loyalty was rewarded with betrayal. He was the key to everything, and, wherever the trio ended up, his safety must be paramount. If anything happened to him, they were finished.
END OF EXCERPT
What exciting story are you working on next?
I write both horror and fantasy, and I am generally pretty inclined to alternate between the two. After launching Blackacre Rising I'll get back to the first draft of my next fantasy novel. It's about halfway through at present, but of course fantasy novels are never short in length and even after the first draft means there's still a lot of work left to do. I haven't worked on it in some time, and I'm starting to really miss the characters, so it'll be good to be back in a fantasy universe instead.
The novel is the third in a fantasy series I first published back in 2016 with Aspatria. The sequel Dagmar of the Northlands came out in 2019. This third novel is inspired by a Russian-themed Medieval universe.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
At fourteen I won twenty pounds in a writing competition for a diary I wrote during our school cruise to the Mediterranean. I found out then I could get paid for doing something I loved so much I'd have done it for free. I wish I'd continued with it, but real life intervenes and for me that meant university and then working. It was only when I was a full-time parent and carer that I began writing again just to carve out some space for myself. When my daughter was old enough to start nursery I dug out some of the writing I'd done as a teenager, read it, winced at how bad it was and then rewrote one of my favourite stories into a novel. Since then I've done a Postgraduate Certificate in Creative Writing, which I found really helpful, and learned the practical side of writing through submissions reading and reviewing. In some ways that sort of hands on experience is more useful than a writing course, in my opinion.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I wish! Like most budding writers I have a day job as well. Mine is to be a full-time carer for a severely brain damaged relative who lives with our family. It's exhausting work but very rewarding. Finding time to write isn't easy under the circumstances, but you just have to be resilient and determined to carve out the hours required. Most writers struggle to do that after a long day at work so I'm not alone. Just now, my boyfriend is over from Pennsylvania for six months while he works on his own novel, so I do have someone to give me a hand and, perhaps most importantly of all, nag me into sitting down and getting some writing done. And of course stand over my shoulder and point out that I'm putting the commas in all the wrong places.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Most of my preparation for a novel is done through lucid dreaming. Most writers flinch at the idea of letting the characters, plot, description and dialogue roll around your head often for months without writing any of it down. You just have to trust that it'll sink down into your memory and the subconscious will find it again at the appropriate time. It works for me, though I understand this writing technique is not for everyone.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I'm still working on the growing up part, which is interesting given that I turn fifty in a few months. I actually wanted to be a vet. Not sure what happened to that ambition, given that I ended up becoming a lawyer instead. And of course now I'm a writer. Life's a journey. One day I'll learn to take it more seriously, I promise.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I'd be delighted to give away twenty copies of Blackacre Rising via Smashwords code to download ebook or Mobi for Kindle versions.
Thanks for being here today!
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