Adam has traveled to six continents, performed on Broadway, and lived on a communal farm. He firmly believes that opening a book is a good thing, even if there are monkeys in it. Adam currently lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, with his wife and two sons.
For what age audience do you write?
‘Warning: Do Not Open This Book!’ is a picture book targeting 4-8 year olds. I have several other picture book manuscripts waiting in the wings, and I’ve begun work on a science fiction chapter book trilogy that I’m very excited about.
Henry: Will the sci-fi trilogy involve space monkeys? Do aliens tease homo sapiens because monkeys flew in space before we did?
Tell us about your latest book.
It’s dangerous. You really shouldn’t open it. I’m serious. There are monkeys in it. Mischievous monkeys. If you open the book, they will get out. Do you know how much mayhem monkeys can cause? Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Henry: You gotta love a picture book that comes with a disclaimer. I wonder if the mischievous monkeys were inspired by your boys…
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope they have fun. Reading a book should be an experience. Especially a picture book. You can interact with them on so many levels. Hopefully readers feel a sense of adventure and enjoyment every time they open one of my books.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
I think the most daunting aspect of writing is sending your manuscript out. You spend so much time fretting over each detail that it is hard to know when to let go and send it out. Then there is the waiting for responses. Ugh. I’m changing my answer. It’s the waiting. Definitely the waiting.
Henry: I’m on the other end of the spectrum – I need to fret more before sending it out. Some advice I’ve received on that score includes (a) when you think your manuscript is ready, wait two weeks, and (b) read your manuscript aloud.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
I’ve learned to let go. Sometimes the idea that you fall in love with just doesn’t have the legs to make it as a story.You move on from it. Maybe a piece of it ends up in something else down the line. It’s really hard to do, but it can be cathartic as well.
Henry: Sadly, the fact that it is good advice doesn’t make it go down any easier. “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it – whole-heartedly – and delete it before sending your manuscripts to press. Murder your darlings.”
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Join the writer’s association for whatever genre you write in. If it’s kidlit, join SCBWI, http://www.scbwi.org. If it hadn’t been for them, I never would have gotten my book published. There’s similar groups for just about every genre. The input and assistance you can get from the other members is invaluable.
Henry: That is good advice. I’m a SCBWI member too. I would also attempt to emulate Adam’s awesome hairstyle, but I’m thwarted by my genetics on that score.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
“The scariest moment is just before you start.” – Stephen King
“Don’t panic.” – Douglas Adams
Henry: Hmm. A picture book that warns you of dire consequences. A fear of submitting manuscripts to agents. Fear-based quotes. I’m sensing a trend.
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
Actually, I don’t. I always wanted a cool writing hat though. Like reporters from the 50’s wear in the movies. I’d wear it every time I wrote. But, I don’t have one. So I pretty much just sit down and write.
Henry: Well, now I know what to get you for your birthday!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I like the idea of shapeshifting. You could try on your characters to see how they act. Plus, there is the added benefit of being able to make yourself a little bit taller. If say, you happen to be a tad on the short side. Yes, I’m using my superpower to make me taller.
Henry: Ah, like Mystique from X-Men. I think shapeshifting, particularly if it grants the powers of the thing being emulated, is a superb and powerful choice. Well played, sir. But we are going to insist that, unlike Mystique, you remain fully clothed at all times.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Stephen King – He is the author that turned me into a reader. I remember staying up until 4:00 in the morning reading his books under my covers so my parents didn’t see me. I would never have though of becoming a writer without his influence.
William Shakespeare – His themes are so universal. So many of our books, movies, and TV shows can be traced back to something he wrote. It would be really cool to talk to the man who came up with them.
Stan Lee – While some might not consider him an ‘author’, he is responsible for some incredibly iconic characters. Plus, I hear that he is a great guy to talk with.
Henry: What a wonderfully eclectic group you’ve chosen!
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
I’m tempted to say the Jabberwock, even though I’m not really sure what that is. Yeah. I’m picking the Jabberwock. Partly because I don’t know what it is, and partly due to the fact that you don’t know if it’s really a Jabberwocky. Whatever it is, it hangs out with a dangerous thing called a jubjub bird. And that’s just fun to say.
Henry: My favorite used to be a dragon, but now it’s a jubjub bird. Because jubjub.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I help coach my son’s hockey team. It’s a great way for us to spend some time together doing something he really enjoys.
Henry: Nice. My two sons help me with my writing.
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
Here lies Adam. He grabbed life by the horns and assures us that the ride was worth it.
Where can readers find your work?
‘Warning: Do Not Open This Book!’ is available everywhere that books are sold.
This article is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.