Adam J Nicolai lives near Minneapolis, MN with his wife, Joy, and their two children, Isaac and Rydia. He is a life-long nerd, game lover, author, Star Wars fan, Dungeon Master, and amateur game designer, as well as a former policy debate coach. He is currently a Project Manager for a major medical insurance company. He started writing in elementary school, creating Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style books while he was supposed to be listening in class. His creative expressions widened to include video game design; he filled countless additional notebooks with expansive maps, dialog trees, loot lists, game stats, and mechanics. When he got older he was known to occasionally draft his younger cousin into play-testing, and authored three rule sets for role-playing games (which his gaming peers readily play-tested, in role-playing campaigns that lasted for 5 years or more). He attended high school at Park Center Senior High, where he had the distinct privilege of being in Brad Olson and Sue Hein’s Humanities class, which fostered his love of creative writing and planted a seed that would sprout many years later. He married his wife, Joy, in 1997. She was seventeen. They promptly moved cross-country together to Washington, DC. Nine months later they decided DC sucked, and moved back to Minnesota, where they have lived happily ever since. Adam self-published his first novel, Alex, in November, 2011 after becoming disillusioned with the traditional publishing industry. You will hear more from him.
What inspires you to write?
Increasingly, my kids. This may sound weird, but there are a lot of dark elements to be a parent. There’s a lot of intrinsic horror. The biggest, I think, I the fear of losing a child, which I explored in “Alex.” There are plenty of others – the fear of being inadequate, the fear that you don’t love them as well or as much as you should, the fear that your own identity has been lost – which I’ll be playing around with in future novels.
It’s not all “kid stuff” though. I’m a long-time fantasy lover and my first fantasy novel should be coming out next year.
Tell us about your writing process
I get an idea. If it keeps coming back to me, I write it down. Once it germinates to the point where I have a clear beginning and ending, it’s eligible for writing.
Typically by that point I’ve got several scenes for the piece in my head, so I write a brief set of notes about those in no particular order. I keep this document around for notes on dates and names and what have you, but it’s not particularly organized. The best part of it is that if I think of an idea in the car, for example, I can email it to myself and then put into the notes document later.
Then I start writing and see where it takes me. I know the start and the end, so the rest is filling in the blanks. When I get stuck, I review the list of scenes I sketched out and take the next one that’s most appropriate. This’ll typically take me from point A to point B.
One thing that’s really important is that I give myself permission to suck. On a first draft, it’s more important to finish than to make everything awesome. That’s what the revision process is for.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Both. My characters all of some of me in them, but I try to learn from them, too. I’m a pretty empathetic person, usually, so I like a challenge. I like to get in the heads of characters that aren’t too much like me, but there always has to be some common element, like a key to unlock a door, before I can get there.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first novel was a fantasy. I spent about ten years writing it and revised it three times. I then spent a year querying it to agents. That was a very frustrating time. I was constantly tweaking re-tweaking my query letter, trying to customize it for each individual agent, so the process completely usurped my writing time. Eventually I stopped querying and started working on my second novel, Alex. About halfway through I realized that a) it was really good, and b) I was dreading the process of shopping it around.
I looked into self-publication through Amazon, and discovered that all the nastiest old bugaboos about self-publishing were gone. Primarily, there was no initial cash investment any more. Between that, the fact that I’d maintain control of my rights and my work, the fantastic royalty rates, and the speed-to-market, I opted to try self-publishing. I’ve been very happy with the results thus far.
I never shopped Alex around to publishers at all.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I don’t know where it’s going to go. Whatever happens, it is going to be a heck of a ride.
What do you use?
What genres do you write:: Suspense, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Horror
What formats are your books in: Both eBook and Print