The Literary Vixen presents…
Joining us today is Mike Adams! Author of the Fierce Girls at War Series.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve thought about writing on and off since high school but I really wasn’t ready to actually do it until much more recently. It takes time that I didn’t have before and you have to overcome the anxiety of having other people read and critique your work. Now the kids are grown up and out of the house, money isn’t a problem, and I can work when I want, or not (substitute teacher).
What time of the day do you usually write?
That would depend on which aspect of ‘writing’ you are referring to. During the mornings and afternoons, I often write longhand on pads of paper the basic scenes that I know I will need although often not in the order they will appear. Then I’ll talk them into Dragon Speaking Naturally software, checking to make sure what it shows on the page is what I said (not always successful there!). Later in the day, or evening, I’ll flesh out and edit the scene or chapter. Then I’ll put it aside for awhile and work on another piece.
How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?
You have to have some general parameters to work within although you can always tweak things as you go along.
For the Fierce Girls At War series I had two worlds to build in rough outline before I could really start writing down the story. I spent quite a bit of time, a couple of months on and off, daydreaming the basic story, carrying it forward and backwards, and thinking about how it needed to start, where it would go, what kind of people would fit in it and what things required some research.
Initially, the story I wanted to write took place on an Earth-like world that was Earth’s first colony. If it was to be ‘Earth-like’, then the air needed to be breathable, the water drinkable, and the gravity within a comfortable range. That was the easy part. More complicated was deciding how such a colonization project could come about, who would be involved, who would pay for it, what kind of technology would be used, what situation the characters would be put in. And, what was the planet like – length of year, size, the local solar system, the weather, animal and plant life etc.
So, then I had to give the main characters a reason for going there in the first place. I had to imagine what Earth would be like 100 years in the future. For this, I chose not to think about all the ways things would be different, but how much might be the same, more or less. Look back 100 years and you can see much that is similar to today – Marines sent to ‘hotspots’ overseas, people often resided in houses that were built decades before, there were families with generations of service in the police or military, people went to school, drove vehicles, and there were children raised by single parents due to pregnancy outside of marriage, or because of divorce or the death of a parent. And there were political rivalries, chauvinism and sexual violence, and there were fanatics dedicated to some cause or other, that drove them to violence.
I think these attributes will still exist 100 years from now regardless of whatever else is going on. Technology is more advanced, of course, but human behavior itself hasn’t changed that much. I simply carried today’s familiar attributes forward, adjusting for further advances within those attributes such as more female Marines and soldiers in combat overseas, the commonplace use of artificial intelligence in the home (think ‘Alexa’ but much more advanced), and so on.
Add in the standard future technology that allows sci-fi to go to other worlds – anti-gravity lift and the ability to use hyperspace/jump space/folded space to cross interstellar distances in a short period of time. In both cases, as the story evolved other elements of these worlds would be incorporated as needed.
Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?
Books 10 and 11, Death By Water and Death By Fire, and Jacks Company, were the most fun to write. They were really the climactic installments of the first half of the series. They required complex battle scenes in different locations going on almost simultaneously with all the different groups of characters involved. A lot of characters had been introduced in the earlier books and I got to make use of many of them, and I got to kill a few of them off, too. They were fun to write but had a lot of moving parts so the process took a while.
Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
I’d have to say that David Weber has been my favorite author for over 20 years with Elizabeth Moon and John Ringo a close second and third. Weber, especially in his Honor Harrington series, writes great female heroes whose lives evolve with very interesting stories over many years. His books also often have multiple storylines that come together at points but could stand independently from the main story. Weber’s series, and there are quite a few of them, tend to be long with a dozen or more volumes in each, and each has a lot of details and many characters. That does tend to result in rather long installments. While 23 books in my Fierce Girls At War series (so far) might seem like a lot, it would take at least 2 or 3 of mine to match any one of his in length. Even so, his books are hard to put down once you start one.
Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
I can’t start writing the beginning without knowing where the story is going, so starting with page one or chapter one doesn’t work for me. I‘ll make an outline of a portion of the story arc then I’ll start writing scenes that I want to be in there somewhere. I’d pretty much written the first eight books in the series and portions of books 9-20 before I was ready to finish Book 1 Fierce Girls in late 2017.
In retrospect, Fierce Girls is really more of a prequel to the main story of the Fierce Girls At War series. It introduces the major characters who are central to the series – a group of strong-willed, intelligent, and brave women and girls in the Cassidy/O’Brien family led by retired police weapons trainer Kelly Cassidy. whose son Rick is the father of Kelly’s only grandchild, Ciara, and is the main male protagonist, and the main female protagonist, Molly Bennett, a courageous Marine whose life will becomes intertwined with this family. Heroic actions result in their being hunted until they have to flee off-world under new identities to the New Hope Colony on Tau Ceti 4 where Earth’s first extra-solar colony is being developed. There they will join the Colonial Rangers and become important to the future of the colony. They will also meet and become friends with some of the female Rangers who will play important roles during the alien invasion of the colony that begins in books 2 ‘Threat on the Horizon’.
Favorite book when you were a kid.
Hard to say. I was big into Andre Norton when I started reading science fiction so probably Witch World or Beast Master. Also, The Dragon Riders of Pern books by Anne MacCaffrey.
If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
Curious, open-minded, creative.
What advice would you give to other authors?
- If you haven’t written before, assume that your first effort or first two or three, will not be very good. Think of it as practice, not failure. There’s lots to learn, just keep writing, that’s how you get better.
- Ask people to read some of what you wrote but not a whole book (they probably won’t want to invest that amount of time so they won’t even start it). Don’t ask someone who won’t tell you what’s wrong with it. Constructive criticism is a good thing!
- Write about what you know.
- If you are stuck at home during these covid times, the silver lining is having the extra time to write, re-write, jot down ideas, edit, work on marketing, develop your website, read other authors’ works, and do research. You can send stories to other people stuck at home who now have time to read your work and give you feedback. On the other hand, if you’ve got company in lockdown, you may have even less time than you had before. Been in both situations over the last 8-9 months. Either way, do whatever you can to move forward.
What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?
I’ve read lots of books where I knew that I could have done it better and I needed to prove that to myself and I think I did.
Thank you Mike Adams for chatting with me! I will include his information down below. Check out his series, Fierce Girls at War today!
Fierce Girls At War
This series is dedicated to the female soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen all over the world who are as capable and competent as their male counterparts but are often discounted by people who in reality are often not as smart, not as brave and not as competent as they are. It is also aimed at young, intelligent girls who given the chance to do so, or in this case when they have no other choice but to do so, are able to demonstrate their smarts, their courage, their determination and their ability to fight to survive in a difficult situation.
“I love being a Marine but there are days…We may have a lot of the same problems in 2122 we did a hundred years ago but back then the Gul brothers weren’t paying lots to see my head on a spike! Not that I was born yet but that’s not the point! So I’m a pretty good shot and Rick is even better. Did I ask daddy Gul and his boys to go on a rampage? No, I didn’t! But now we have to leave the planet and go to the New Hope colony where the locals like to eat people!”
-Staff Sergeant Susan ‘Molly’ Bennett, USMC
The story of the alien Rift invasion of the New Hope Colony begins on Earth in 2122 when all too familiar problems and events cause a chain reaction that will have repercussions on two worlds. Fleeing for their lives and to protect his family Navy, Lieutenant Paul “Rick” O’Brien and Marine Staff Sergeant Susan Mollison “Molly” Bennett will have to board a starship for the long voyage to Earth’s first extrasolar colony under new identities. There they will join the Colonial Rangers, the international military force designed to protect the colonists from the planet’s ferocious predators, not to deter an alien invasion.
The female-loving Logistics officer O’Brien and superb marksman and the courageous Marine recon squad leader form an unbreakable bond forged under fire that will serve them well as events unfold around them. The circumstances that send them to the New Hope Colony will also have a profound effect on the other members of the O’Brien/Cassidy family and especially Rick’s daughter Ciara as well as on the colony where they find refuge.
‘FIERCE GIRLS’ introduces the lead characters and covers the events that force O’Brien and Bennett to leave Earth. Then as Lieutenant Commander Rick ‘Cassidy’ and Gunnery Sergeant Molly ‘Pickford’ the story will deal with their first months at the New Hope Colony. It also introduces the key members of Rick’s family, their embrace of Molly Bennett, and the repercussions on their own lives.
The Fierce Girls At War series beginning with ‘Fierce Girls’ is not simply about the bonds between the characters. It is about women who are smart, brave, quick thinking, resilient and who are good leaders. They are steady under fire, they are problem solvers and they are resourceful and creative thinkers. They feel fear when circumstances are frightening but they don’t panic. They are not dependent on their male counterparts and more often than not they outshine them. They feel lust and love but are not driven by either (most of the time). Many of them are experienced, competent soldiers while others are young students dropped into a perilous situation from which no one is coming to rescue them. Some of them are bound by bonds of family but by no means are they all. Book One ‘Fierce Girls’ introduces the main characters –Gunnery Sergeant ‘Molly’ Pickford, Lieutenant Commander ‘Rick’ Cassidy, his daughter Ciara and other members of his family, and Captain Naomi MacCaffrey, a Canadian officer captured by extremists and rescued by Molly in the African jungles. They must find it in themselves to fight battles against other humans before the coming desperate struggle against an alien invasion of Earth’s first colony in space that will arise in the following books of the series. Those books will show these women and others take the lead in fighting for the life of the colony.
Mike Adams is a native New Yorker who holds a degree in Business Administration from Wagner College and an MBA from San Diego State University. He is the father of 2 grown sons, a retired US Navy Supply Corps (Logistics) officer, a former small business owner, and a part-time substitute teacher. He has visited 6 continents and 36 countries, speaks Spanish, some German, a little Italian and less French. He currently lives in Chula Vista, CA with his wife Chris.