We would like to introduce Addam Gaffen Author of The Cassidy Chronicles
BBE: Welcome. Let’s get to know you first before we talk about your books. While my team alter the bright lights to shine—just so, tighten the thumbscrews and hook up the polygraph; why don’t you start at the beginning and tell us about your early life and upbringing?
Adam Gaffen: Me? (Looks around) I guess you do mean me. Well. My parents made a minor mistake shortly after they were married: they decided far northern Maine would be a good place to live. A few months after I was born, when the last of the snow melted and the ground unfroze (this would be June), they moved south and saved me from being eaten by a moose.
BBE: Where are you from, and where do you live now?
Adam Gaffen: It’s kinda tough to say where I’m from. I’ve lived in a number of places and states, but the place I lived the longest was Maine, about 20 years. My wife and I recently moved to Southern Colorado, though, and we’re enjoying it here. Where we live we’re at about 6000 feet, but also only a few miles away from the New Mexico border, which adds up to lots of sunny and dry weather and snow that disappears hours.
BBE: how did you perform at school, top of the class, or the child they said would never amount to anything as long as he had a hole in his—inkwell?
Adam Gaffen: School was interesting. My problem was boredom, which instilled no good habits in me whatsoever. One of the worst things you can do is not challenge a child to grow intellectually, because they get lazy. I did, and it’s something I still fight against.
BBE: Where are you now? Tell us a bit about your life, work, family?
Adam Gaffen: My wife and I are in Colorado. Between us we have five kids from previous marriages, from 16 to 30, but none of them live with us. We’ve filled our home with animals, five dogs and five cats. Hmm, we seem to have a thing for 5’s. Anyways, we both work from home; she’s a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who teaches parents how to understand their kids with ASD while starting a Doctor of Behavioral Health program. I write full-time and am purusing a Philosophy degree part-time.
BBE: Where do you go when the world gets scary?
Adam Gaffen: What do you mean, when? As a kid I grew up under the constant threat of nuclear annihilation from the Soviets, some idiot pressing the wrong button (I’m looking at you, Ronald Reagan). The stuff going on now is worrying, but from where I sit, it’s same crap, different year. And my response is the same: I dig in, take care of the things I can, and don’t concern myself with the things I can’t control. Reading is another good way for me to do that; Niven’s Lucifer’s Hammer or King’s The Stand puts everything in perspective.
BBE: Which five people, alive or dead, would you invite to a dinner party?
Adam Gaffen: Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Douglas Adams to start. After that? I think I’d like to have my two grandfathers in for dinner; one died just after I graduated from high school, and the other I never knew. He died when I was an infant. Of course, this dinner might go on for a few days; would it still be a dinner then?
BBE: What is your method for writing?
Adam Gaffen: I sit down in front of the computer and start typing. Seriously, it’s not much more complicated than that. On the scale of plotter to pantser I’m definitely on the pants end of the spectrum. While I know where I want my stories to end up, in a general sense, I have no idea how I’m going to get there. On one hand, it means I have as much fun writing the story as the reader gets when they have it. On the other, it means I have to do a bunch of editing and adding as I go. Of course, on the gripping hand, it means I’ve gotten pretty good at self-editing.
BBE: Favourite food, drink, pet, film and book?
Adam Gaffen: Favorite food? That’s tough. If you asked my wife, she’d say “steak”, which is true enough. But we’ve also cut way back on processed foods. So there are days when I’d love to have an old-fashioned chili dog – hot dog, spicy mustard, finely diced onions, chili without beans. Drink, my wife and I have discovered brewed cacao. It’s ground cacao beans, which is prepared like coffee. I make a mix of about 80% cacao and 20% coffee, then refrigerate it and mix it with some home-made unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Pet? Cats and dogs are neck-and-neck in terms of favorite pets. Cats are amusing and frankly insane, dogs are love on four legs; of course, cats also try to kill you by walking in front of you on the stairs and dogs are needy. Film. All over the place. I enjoy the MCU and the DCU, but I also like movies which critics think are dogs, like “The Night of the Comet”, “Hudson Hawk”, and “Cutthroat Island”. It all depends, really. Book? I’ll give you a couple. Friday and Job by Robert Heinlein, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and most of the sequels) by Douglas Adams.
BBE: What makes you different?
Adam Gaffen: How many books start off at a wedding interrupted by an assassination? That’s the first scene, the first page, of the first volume in the Chronicles. Then the two main characters, Aiyana and Kendra (often referred to as Cass and Ken), with their fiancé Derek, have to figure out who wants Cass dead and why. And yes, it’s a triad marriage. My characters don’t stand on current mores regarding marriage; this was definitely a Heinleinian influence (with a dash of Spider Robinson as well). There are Easter Eggs, Hat Tips, and references to sci-fi of the past century as well as other pop culture nuggets. I made one of my main characters (Kendra) obsessed with the TV and movies from, 1975 to now, and this obsession plays into the rest of the series. See, Kendra has decided she appreciates the ideals espoused by Gene Roddenberry in Star Trek, and so when she has the opportunity she decides to put those ideals into reality. Her reality, at least. So I have a fictional character looking back at a fictional universe in our reality and deciding to create her own version of it.
BBE: And how did you come to writing?
Adam Gaffen: I’ve always been a reader, and sooner or later I think every reader thinks to themselves, “Hey! I can do that!” I played with writing in high school and college, doing the poetry and college newspaper things, but I didn’t start writing fiction until after I finished with my dabbling in college. The first serious piece I wrote, which I’ve incorporated parts of in the Cassidy novels, was a 200-year “future history” of the United States and the countries that derived from its breakup.
BBE: What are your influences and your writing ethos?
Adam Gaffen: Heinlein, definitely. Huge influence on my writing, not just stylistically but from his ability to create characters who are immediately recognizable, no matter which side of the story they’re on. He did it effortlessly! Douglas Adams, too, for his ability to look sideways at the world and find humor in it.
BBE: How far have you come, and where are you going with your writing?
Adam Gaffen: There are some stories I look back on, now, and wince. They’re clumsily written and very derivative. But writing is like any skill, the more you do it, the better you get, and I like to think I’ve improved. I’ve certainly gotten more complex in my story-telling and the topics I address. For example, while The Cassidy Chronicles Volume One is a straightforward whodunit, in The Measure of Humanity (which is volume three) I look at a definition of humanity. Without giving too much away, one of the main characters finds out that, according to some laws in place, she’s not human. It’s a deep topic for what could be seen as a trivial sci-fi series.
BBE: Ready—Set—Go. Tell us about your books in order of publication?
Adam Gaffen: I’m going to leave out the short stories.
The Cassidy Chronicles, Volume 1
The Road to the Stars (The Cassidy Chronicles Volume 2)
The Measure of Humanity (The Cassidy Chronicles Volume 3)
A Quiet Revolution (The Cassidy Chronicles Volume 4)
Triumph’s Ashes (The Cassidy Chronicles Volume 5)
The Artemis War Box Set (Volume 1-5 with a bonus story)
And coming February 1, 2022, Memories of Aiyana – Kendra’s memoirs, at least the first part, recalling her childhood with Aiyana.
BBE: Which of your books is the favourite?
Adam Gaffen: The cliché would be the one I finished most recently, right? But for me, it’s true. Triumph’s Ashes is the most complex work I’ve done, and as such it’s rewarding to have gotten it out and gotten it out well. I always keep in mind that as an author my primary focus is to entertain my readers. Lecturing them about stuff is only going to turn them off, and making a book too complex is another way to turn them off. People read to escape, and if they have to think too much they’re liable to put the book down.
BBE: And your favourite character, how did they come about? What do you like or dislike about them?
Adam Gaffen: This is like asking “Who’s your favorite child?”, you know that?
I think my favorite character, the one who speaks to me the most, is Kendra Cassidy. She is the character who has grown the most, and has the most interesting backstory. After high school, she was a sensie star—she went into porn, in other words. From there she got sucked into doing courier runs for a company called OutLook, and these were runs which absolutely positively had to get through. She transitioned from there to being an assassin, then she retired and tried to put it behind her. These skills, though, had to come back so she could save Cass, which led to some awkward discussion. By the end of the current book, she’s created a new star nation, committed to peaceful exploration, defeated a foe which was going to stop at nothing to destroy her and her dream, and has broadened the definition of “humanity” to include both AI’s and intelligent aliens.
BBE: Tell us about your writing achievements and things that haven’t worked so well for you?
Adam Gaffen: Let’s see. The Cassidy Chronicles was a finalist for the 2020 Drunken Druid awards. A Quiet Revolution finished second in the May Cover of the Month contest, and Triumph’s Ashes is currently winning the October cover contest. I’ve been nominated for the DragonCon Dragon Awards twice and the Page Turner awards. What hasn’t worked well? I’m still trying to figure out all the details; indie publishing and writing isn’t easy.
BBE: What are you working on?
Adam Gaffen: Now that the initial establishment of the Cassidyverse is done, I want to branch out and tell stories about the characters who aren’t named Cassidy. There are so many people and so many stories, I could write for the next twenty years and barely scratch the surface. The current WIP takes some of these minor/secondary characters, puts them on a massive starship designed for long-term, deep space exploration, and sets them off into the black. I’m planning lots of interpersonal conflicts—this is a crew which has been thrown together in two weeks, from across the Fleet—as well as some external challenges. So far, it’s been fun to write!
BBE: Where do you see yourself in five years?
Adam Gaffen: My wife and I both work from home; all we need is a computer and Wi-Fi, and we love to travel. What we’d really like to do is get on one of the epic World Cruises; Royal Caribbean just announced one for ’24 which runs 274 days and visits 60+ countries. Something like that would be amazing!
BBE: Which is your favourite cover? How did you come up with it, and did you do it yourself?
Adam Gaffen: My favorite cover isn’t a cover at all. It’s a piece of artwork done by my designer, Emily’s World of Design, based on the characters and the covers she’s done for me before. It’s Kendra (the blonde in the white uniform) and Aiyana, standing together on a starship and preparing for whatever comes next.
BBE: How do you market and promote your work?
Adam Gaffen: I’m willing to do and try almost anything. YouTube channel, book trailers, canva videos based on cover art, all across social media, Facebook fan groups, I’ve done them all. The key, as far as I can tell, isn’t so much what you do but being out there and visible.
BBE: Tips for other writers?
Adam Gaffen: Don’t stop writing. No matter how much you want to, it’s a lot harder to start again than to keep going. Also, don’t worry about perfect. Nobody gets it perfect the first time around. That’s what editing, and editors, are for. If you don’t have something on the page you don’t have anything to edit. And write for yourself. If you’re not enjoying what you write, why would you think someone is going to read it?
BBE: What will your epitaph say?
Adam Gaffen: “In the immortal words of Socrates: I drank what?”
BBE: What’s the best way for people to find you?
Adam Gaffen: The first way is to go to the website. https://cassidychronicles.com – it’s got chapter posts, guest authors, author interviews, and, best of all, links to free books! They can send me an email, too, email@example.com, and I’ll be happy to reply. I’m on Facebook, and there are a couple fan pages (Fans of Adam Gaffen is one, and The Cassidy Chronicles is the other). Kendra’s on Facebook, too, as well as Instagram.
BBE: Wait, what?
Adam Gaffen: Yes. Kendra has her own Facebook and Instagram profiles. She also has her own email and newsletter (firstname.lastname@example.org). There’s also a YouTube channel. If you prefer to see me in person, I’ll be at COSine in Colorado Springs in January and I’m working on other appearances.
Finally, the books. All five volumes are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and hardcovers, as well as audiobooks. A reader can start with either Volume One or Volume Two (The Cassidy Chronicles and The Road to the Stars, respectively) and dive right into the series.
BBE: Thank you for taking our interview. We hope you’ve enjoyed it. Best Book Editors wish you every success with your career, with life and with you.
Born in South Shields, Tyne & Weir, Katherine Black lives on the tip of the beautiful British Lake District. She lives with her partner, father-in-law and 4 dysfunctional but co-mingling pets. She is mother, grandmother and secret keeper of all. She is Best Book Editors’ principal editor.