I get asked a lot of questions about the Adam Fletcher books, as well as myself, as an author, and history, and all sorts of things — and some of them I get often — so I figured I’d go through and try to put as many as I can in one place.
How many novels are you planning to write in the Adam Fletcher Adventure Series?
I’m not sure, to be honest. Once upon a time I thought it would be seven. Seven is a nice, complete-feeling number, but now that I’m working on book 6, I know that there’s no way I can wrap up the various story arcs I had in mind in just one more book.
Maybe 12? Who knows?
Are you going to be killing off anybody important?
I’ve thought about it. I’ve actually thought about saying goodbye to a couple of major characters, but as it is right now, I’m not sure. Or maybe I’m just not willing to say one way or another. I guess you’ll just have to read through the series to know for sure.
Are the things that happen in the books based on true stories?
Hmm… not exactly. While the Adam Fletcher stories are often inspired by things that I happen to know about 18th century North Carolina, the only things in the book based on real life versus fiction is when I refer to actual historical characters, like Blackbeard, for instance.
What’s the deal with you and pirates? You seem to be really into them.
Well, to be fair, I’m not into all pirates. I’m mostly just into the history surrounding Blackbeard and other pirates with a connection to eastern North Carolina. My fascination with it springs out of the fact that I know that so many of Blackbeard’s men were actually from North Carolina and they had real families and they left records behind so we know who they are. You never hear about that when you hear the fictional Blackbeard stories. For instance, not many people know that one of Blackbeard’s men, Edward Salter, after leaving his life of piracy behind him, raised a family and was one of the founding members of St. Thomas Church in Bath — the oldest surviving church in North Carolina.
Also, I think Blackbeard and his men have gotten a bad rap. Evidence points to the fact that they weren’t nearly as bloodthirsty and violent as they are reputed to be and some of their most infamous actions seem to have been done for the benefit of the struggling colony of North Carolina — their home.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I don’t know what to write. How do you come up with your stories?
Well, I think anyone who wants to be a writer has some basic thoughts about a story they want to tell — even if it’s just an idea for one or two interesting characters, or maybe a particular genre, or time in history (or the future), or setting.
In my case, the initial idea for the Adam Fletcher series came from my fascination with the apprenticeship system in colonial North Carolina. I learned about one of my own ancestors who became an apprentice at 16, but then dealt with an abusive master. (Not very unlike the story Boaz recounts to Adam in The Smuggler’s Gambit.) I saw how in spite of my ancestor’s humble origins, he still ended up doing quite well for himself. It was a story that was begging to be told, but I realized that I shouldn’t limit myself by just turning it into a biography of my ancestor, but instead, I would make it about a fictional apprentice facing challenges head-on and overcoming all sorts of circumstances to eventually find his place in the world. That’s how Adam Fletcher came to be.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Well, my first tip is to just write the book. Don’t spend years and years and years on it, because at that point you’ve made it into this big impossible thing that will never be as perfect as you want it to be. Just write the story, hire a good editor, and publish it.
I’m not a fan of the traditional publishing industry, but that would be because I’ve always been a bit of an independent spirit, myself. I don’t like having to seek permission from anyone to write what I want to write. That said, I can offer you no advice about getting agents or securing a contract with a traditional publisher.
On the other hand, if you want to get busy with the nuts and bolts of your story, I have a whole section on my author blog dedicated to advice on everything from how you can use index cards to plan out your story to, how not to get bogged down by editing as you write, to what kind of software I like to use and why. You can see everything here.
Do you outline your novels or do you just start writing and let things happen naturally?
I start out with index cards, then I outline, but I’m not too detailed about it. I’ve found if I try to outline everything, I end up feeling like I’ve painted myself into a corner. On the other hand, by outlining major plot points and key events, it frees me up to create transitions as I need to throughout the story. Learn more about my process here.
It bothers me that you’re a woman and yet you make the hero of your books a young man. Why would you do that?
I love this question. My answer is likely going to be controversial, but oh well. It is what it is. Skip to the end if you want to hear about the protagonist for my next series.
I’m glad to have a chance to respond to this question. There are actually a number of reasons why I chose to write about a male protagonist in this particular adventure series.
First of all, I’ve raised my son as a single mother and I’ve homeschooled him since kindergarten. When I started writing these stories, it didn’t escape me that he might end up reading them. He would know the stories were inspired by our North Carolina history, and in fact, some of his own ancestors, so I wanted him to be able to take pride in that, and hopefully learn something from it.
Second, I’m in love with the colonial era, but I’m also in love with adventure stories — book or film. To be perfectly honest, I don’t want to read about swashbuckling females so why would I write about them?
Frankly, I’m a sucker for a masculine hero — especially since it seems that kind of character is getting more difficult to find in media these days — at least well-rounded masculine heroes who aren’t just pumped up on adrenaline all the time and ready to bash in skulls while cussing up a blue streak.
I love hearing about and reading about the kind of men who are honorable, who value women’s modesty and virtue and treat them with respect. These men are determined to protect their families and loved ones, even if it means putting their own lives at risk. They not only use their minds, but they aren’t afraid to use their fists, a knife, a gun, or whatever it takes to dispatch evil men. Men were created to be protectors. Those are the kind of characters I want to read about.
Another thing, my book’s hero is going to take some physical abuse now and then, but being the kind of man he is, it never stops him from doing what he believes has to be done. I’m not a fan of watching or reading about violence against women. There’s enough of that that exists in the real world. On the other hand, I am a fan of men who have a desire to protect women. I think that’s beautiful and admirable and I want to celebrate that.
I’ll admit I don’t watch much TV and I find little that I’m interested in at the movies, but from what I have seen, so many male characters these days seem like they’ve been neutered. It’s completely unappealing to me, as a woman, and it certainly doesn’t model the kind of man that I want my son to be.
Lastly, you may be happy to know that I do have another book series featuring a female protagonist already being mapped out for when I finally do complete the Adam Fletcher Adventures. It will be a different sort of adventure series — more focused on mystery, with a healthy dose of comedy — and it will take place between the years of 1985 to 1997. The title character will help solve a number of mysteries like a more aggressive Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher, but she’ll be much younger and a big fan of New Wave — and she’ll be brainy with computers. Sounds crazy, I know, but I think it will be fun.