Author Interview: Adam “Doc” Brackin

Are there any books or authors that inspired you to become a writer? Has any hugely popular novel left you thinking you could write it better? I can’t seem to turn it off. Writer me and editor me don’t always play nice together. Armistice is something like, “Okay, me, you can think of alternative ways to write this, but don’t presume it’s a better way to write it. That notwithstanding, I have long wished for faith based or religious literature that wasn’t schlocky and predictable. If Dan Brown can rock the world with DaVinci, Templars, and Jesus, why not apply that “cultural apologetic” methodology to a different subject, chosen to educate and entertain, as well as spark/challenge the faith of the reader.

At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer? When did you first call yourself a writer? I’m a teacher and professor and a writer and a dad and… I can’t really say when any of those began. If it’s a technical question, then I learned to write in grade school, but that’s obviously not the question. I tell my students all the time that if they draw they are artists, make games they are game designers, write stories they are storytellers. Publishable? Probably not, but like any craft it must be practiced and honed and sharpened and whatnot. I had some stuff published when I was a kid, various things since 2008, some short stories a few years ago, and my first novel this year. But really, I think I became a writer the day I quit my paying job and started working on the crazy idea that now sits on bookshelves. 

Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?

Yesbut it’s not about my favorites, it’s more about my characters’ favorites. Because I write from different limited perspectives, I often have a playlist that compliments that character’s age and tastes within the setting. otherwise, it’s instrumental power ballads to get the blood pumping. 

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? Have they ever not? Some writers go on retreat to free up their mind, relax, and work with no distractions or responsibilities. I do so to liberate my lap from my tortoiseshell cat. Though I must admit, she is inarguably my greatest fan. 

Have you ever traveled as research for your book? Yes, but the proverbial chicken came before the literary egg. I presented three papers across two Oxford conferences during my time as a Texas professor and found it to be an inspirational place. I began the research and outlines and early (mercifully discarded) drafts of The Chaos Spiral, but when a study opportunity in Oxford presented itself, I jumped! Armed with a thousand questions about my favorite city I walked the footsteps of my characters, took notes/pics, and generally had the greatest time! Upon returning, I resumed writing in earnest, finished the bulk in two years, found my publisher, and we began the editing process. Now it exists, an 8-year journey all said and done.

How did you come up with the title for your book? The working title of Evans’ first adventure was “The Genesis Trap.” It was my editor who shattered this delusion by pointing out that it sounded like a Star Trek episode. So began the long process of finding not just a new title, but a new formula for future books to also use. The“something” of “something” seemed reasonable, as did “so-and-so’s something.”But, the final choice to go with the original The “something-something” won out and so The Chaos Spiral was named. All kidding aside, there is a great video about choosing book titles that you should drop everything and watch right now!

How do you come up with character names for your stories?

Maybe it’s corny, maybe it’s inspired, but I like to play a little game with character names via etymology. The low-hanging fruit are names that mean specific qualities and characteristics, but the plot can provide inspiration too. 

Protagonist “David” has a classic boy’s name of Hebrew origin, meaning “beloved” and “uncle.” Whereas, his grandfather—my Arthur Evans is the namesake of his historical “uncle” Sir Arthur (“strong man/eagle/bear”). David’s dad Joseph (“God will add”) is a writer of religious non-fiction, but in David’s brief meeting, Rabbi Yosephacts a mentor father-figure to the young man. The other holy man father figure is Father Matthew (“gift of God,”) which is of course the name of the first Gospel, albeit a bit on the nose for the character. The Chaos Spiral contains some secret “dragon” and “darkness” names throughout, a few homage-to-real-people names, and the man in the suit has no name at all. Baby-name websites are invaluable in this game, and the search can be customized for specific cultures, customs, and even decades! It’s amazing how many authors do this, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” is probably my favorite rabbit hole of name symbols. 

If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it? Book 2 is set in Egypt, and instead of the Evanses searching for the mythical/historical origins of Genesis , they will delve into the mythical/historical origins of Exodus, all while the 2011 Egyptian Revolution plays out. It will not be called The Exodus Trap, butlikely

Something like. The Staff of Life.

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

“Don’t.” This is the advice given to me by a writing prof many years ago. I didn’t understand at the time, but he meant that if you can live your life happily, having never written anything, then don’t deny yourself that life. I however, flagrantly disregarded his advice, seeing as the story wanted out of my head more than I wanted a simple life.

Have you listened to any audiobooks? What books do you enjoy reading? 

While the feel and smell of a book is irreplaceable, nowadays, most of my reading is via audiobooks. I can “read” while mowing, washing dishes, driving, playing a video game, building LEGO, or laying around in the dark. Voice actors are brilliant, books are never abridged anymore like in the analog media days, and my mind doesn’t wander. I don’t usually write in my favorite genres to read, though. Currently I prefer to take in hard sci-fi, some lit-RPG, and obscure non-fiction about obscure topics. I write meatier material, anchored in real events and locations that require a lot of research and planning across multiple media formats.

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? Nothing. It’s not my style to sit in front of an empty screen. I keep my notes and research on an app called Workflowy, it can be accessed cross-platform and handles massive text dumps well. Anywhere, anytime, the grocery, church, or watching tv; when an inspired idea, tidbit of history, or quotable quote comes along, I flick out my phone and note it, take a pic, or even record it. Consequentially, when I sit to write, I have scads of source material to cut and paste, play with and organize. I could throw most of it out and it would still be forward progress. I never forget my moments of inspiration because I offload the remembering until I need it., @docbrackin,,,

The Chaos Spiral

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