Any reader who is looking for a new entertaining fantasy story need look no further than G. Derek Adams’ Asteroid Made of Dragons. One of the contest winners chosen by the popular Sword & Laser podcast and published by the online publishing company Inkshares, Adams’ newest story is beginning to grace bookshelves everywhere. The writer of this new fantasy dubs himself as a giant nerd who came to writing through his hobbies. “I pretty much came to writing through performing in plays, writing for them and also acting in them, but also just from playing lots and lots of Dungeons & Dragons and playing lots of video games. That is what brought me to writing in the first place. Other than that, I’m just some weird dude that writes things,” Adams said.
The title of the story along with its eye-catching cover is enough to grab a reader’s attention before he or she even reads what it is about. The premise is straight-forward: an asteroid housing dragons is heading towards the planet and is going to destroy life as the planet’s inhabitants know it. This just screams fantasy, but where did the idea come from? “A friend of mine and I were talking about fantasy novels and how they always have a ridiculous crisis. We were trying to think of the most ridiculous thing that would be the bad thing that is going to happen that the heroes have to prevent,” Adams said. “We were talking about, ‘What if an asteroid hit the planet?’ Then [my friend] said, ‘An asteroid made of dragons because then it would hit and it would be nuclear winter, but then there would also be dragons wondering around, so it would be even worse.’ It made me laugh very hard and that is really all I needed to get started.”
Though this is Adams’ first work being published through Inkshares, this is not his debut novel. In fact, Asteroid Made of Dragons is the third book in a series, the first two titled Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box respectively, and yet, this third book works very well as a standalone story and readers can easily read it and understand what is happening. “What I have been telling people is Asteroid Made of Dragons is kind of like the first Avengers film and the other two are like Iron Man 2 and the first Thor movie. Yeah, they came before and, yeah, they involve some of the same characters, but you don’t need to have [read] them to have a really good time,” Adams said. “I’m reacting against epic fantasy and trilogies and Game of Thrones where you have to read the first book and learn everyone’s name or you’ll never ever know what is going on ever again. All of [my] books are designed a la carte: you can read them in any order. Just pick them up and you’ll always know, basically, what is going on.”
Even with this strategy in mind, Adams said there is a meta-narrative that will tie all of the books together. He has dubbed his strategy as “the home game”: if readers want to play “the home game,” there are many cool things that will happen and connections that will be made, but each individual book is designed to be enjoyed on its own. If readers wish to enjoy Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box, Adams will be hosting a short-term promotion where readers can read the first two books for free on Amazon as soon as Asteroid Made of Dragons is released on April 5th.
In his first two stories, Adams introduced the mage Rime and her guardian Jonas as well as the old knight Linus and his devilkin assassin Sideways. With these main characters having already been introduced, there is one brand new main character that was created and introduced specifically for Asteroid Made of Dragons: Xenon the goblin. Xenon is Adams’ favorite character and he had so much fun writing her. “I really wanted a main character that was female and that never did anything stereotypically fantasy-genre-combat related. No magic, no guns, no swords. She is literally just like a professor. She knows a lot about old dead people and likes to learn things, but she is the one that saves the day. Her archeology skill saves the day. I’m really hoping people will enjoy that and react to it because it was super fun to write. I love her the most,” Adams said.
Not only did Adams love writing Xenon, he also loved writing certain parts with Rime. One part in particular that he found the most fun and he claimed that he could write this scene forever is the scene where Rime gets a new outfit. “That is my favorite thing when [the characters] get new costumes. When she got her red coat and her hat, I was like, ‘Oh, this is making me happy!’ It’s totally stupid. It’s totally like a video game thing because, in my mind, they are basically like video game sprites (like PS1 era video game sprites). So this is very much like, ‘It’s time for the level up. They got their new outfits. It’s on.’ That made me very very happy,” Adams said.
Of course Adams has more books in store for the series, even hinting at the end of Asteroid Made of Dragons that another book will be coming out. He said there will more than likely be another book coming out unrelated to this series first before releasing the next in the series, but he already has plans for the next book. “The next book is basically a heist crossed with a Harry Potter parody crossed with teen romance crossed with tournament anime. Yeah, it’s going to be delicious. I can’t wait,” Adams said. Adams was even willing to give his readers a spoiler on what the larger picture is for his entire series. It is a fate for his characters that he is looking forward to reaching, but at the same time, he doesn’t want to because it would mean the end of the ridiculous adventures his characters embark upon.
“Eventually, all of these characters are heading towards this event, this sort of dark fate that awaits them. Spoiler alert: it represents maturity. Eventually, all of these wacky adventures we’re having will lead to the fall: the moment where everything falls and everyone matures and everything sucks when you become an adult. I have tentative plans. I definitely know what the next book is and I have joke plans for a few books after that, but really, I know at some point I have to start turning the ship to aim for where it all ends. I know where it all ends and I’m kind of playing a game with myself: it all still has to work; it all still has to land in this very dark place. So I have to make sure all the pieces are in place,” Adams said. “I play around a lot with the concept of prophecy, in this book very specifically. This is the book I want people to come back to later and see where I was eluding to some things that don’t land until later. Most of the prophecies don’t come true in this book and it is kind of like a [wave of the hand], but that is the kick: they haven’t come true… yet.”
For all of the ideas for future books in his series, Adams admits he is terrible at planning. He does not have an outline and he does not have a master plan hidden in a document on his computer somewhere. He just writes what comes to him. “It is like being a time traveler: I know the future and I know I have to get there, but I don’t know the path. What I do know is this: I self-published the first two books, so I had that whole experience, and this experience with Inkshares has been amazing!” Adams said. “Compared to doing it all myself: self-publishing, promoting myself, all that stuff, then having all of these professional, amazing, wonderful people do all this stuff for me is fantastic. And also, just comparing the paperback of Asteroid Made of Dragons to the paperbacks I did through CreateSpace on Amazon for my self-published stuff, there is no comparison. I’ve been describing it like my self-published paperbacks are kind of like a pretty good hamburger from McDonalds: they’re fun, they’re fine. But this new paperback is like a steak: a delicious steak and it is beautiful. Honestly, it is going to be very hard to go back to just a burger from McDonalds after having this experience.”
Inkshares has only been online for a few years and, in those few years, every writer who has been published through them have had nothing but wonderful things to say about them. Adams is no different than the other appreciative writers out there whose stories have been recognized thanks to this online publisher and he is most certainly considering going through Inkshares for his next book. For this launch; however, Adams has the anxiety every writer feels when publishing a book, but he is mainly excited for people to read it, especially the people who supported him through his campaign during the contest and the people who supported him when self-publishing his first two books. For this launch, Adams wants to have an ego spell of “super excitement and despair” and then return to his “turtle shell” to write his next project.
Adams is a very inspiring writer: fun and optimistic about his work, yet surprising at the same time. Surprising as in he called his own work dumb. “Quote me on this: author says, ‘Whole premise of book is dumb’ because it is,” Adams said. “It is an asteroid made of dragons that is going to hit the planet and destroy everything. That is stupid, but I try to trick you. I try to get you invested where you’re accepting it at face value. [The asteroid] is a real threat: it is never treated as a silly threat in the story, but every so often, I like to remind you that this is all stupid, too.” It takes courage to call one’s own work dumb just like it takes courage to share that “dumb” work with the world and Adams encourages writers to not worry so much when writing, but just to write something cool.
Adams said, “I think people, especially with fantasy, get way too caught up in needing to justify or re-explain their world versus everyone else’s world. ‘My wizards are not like your wizards. They’re like this. And I don’t have goblins, I have gooblins.’ Fantasy is all about world-building, or people perceive it as being all about world-building, so they get so worked up about thinking about the perfect world and [building it carefully]. I really think, for fantasy specifically, Terry Pratchett had this wonderful term for the “consensus fantasy universe”: it’s the universe that all of us who are fantasy fans instinctually understand. It’s where my book is. I don’t re-explain anything. I’m like, ‘That’s a wizard. You know how a wizard works. Moving on.’ ‘The dude with the sword, yeah, cool. Next thing.’ I think, to encourage [writers], don’t drive yourself crazy trying to re-explain everything. You’re standing on the shoulders of giants. There’s so much ground work already there, just tell a cool story and cool stories, ultimately, are not about the world. They’re about the people that live in it.”
Originally published at www.examiner.com on April 1, 2016.