In this latest SPFBO special author interview I spoke with Devin Downing who has entered book one in his Adamic Trilogy: The Dividing into the competition.
- Hi, Devin. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write? I grew up in Temecula, California where—like every other author in existence—I read books nonstop. As a kid, I was a huge fan of Rick Riodan and the Percy Jackson Series. I loved how he took a polytheistic Greek religion and turned it into a magic system. Growing up in a very Christian household, I started thinking about how I could do something similar with the Bible. I ultimately decided to turn the creation story into a magic system. Once I started running with that idea, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had to write it. Eventually, my freshman year of college, I decided to give it a shot. Now four years later, I nearly have the Trilogy complete.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre? One of my favorite aspects of fantasy is its ability to critique the real world. The fictional, impossible nature of fantasy creates a barrier—a safe space if you will. Fantasy readers want to be immersed in a new world. Most of them aren’t looking to read about systematic prejudice or sexism in society; however, when reading about a magical realm, they might just find those same messages hidden between the paragraphs of dragons and danger. Fantasy authors have the ability to introduce world-altering topics to readers who may not even be looking for it, and I think that is pretty amazing.
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together? My most recent project is the third and final instalment of the Adamic Trilogy, The Reviving. It’s been a wild ride, and I’m so excited to finish my debut series. The size alone has been a bit of a challenge. The trilogy will be weighing in at just over 500,000 words. I’ve been writing it while simultaneously getting my bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, so I’ve been pretty pressed for time. However, I just graduated this last April, so I’m ready to devote all my attention to this epic conclusion. Assuming everything goes according to plan, I hope to release book 3 in October 2021.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them? My favourite characters to write are without a doubt villains. While I know that sociopaths exist, they aren’t the kind of villains I want to write about. I want a villain my readers can relate to, with a cause that even I could consider justified. I tried my best to make such a villain for The Adamic Trilogy. As for the second part of your question, I put a pretty liberal helping of myself into all of my characters. I pick and choose the most interesting aspects of myself and mix them with personality traits of my friends and family. Matt (my male protagonist) is probably the most unfiltered reflection of myself, but they all have little sprinklings of Devin.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned? This is a cliche, but write what you want to read. Even if you’re into some weird stuff, you’ll find an audience. Writing requires a lot of motivation, and if you don’t love your story, odds are, you won’t finish it. Second, don’t be afraid to suck. We all gotta suck before we ascend. Just start writing. You might just surprise yourself how quickly your story progresses into something you’re proud of.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track? Frankly, I just try to muscle through. Occasionally, if I get stuck in a scene, I’ll jump ahead to a scene I’m more excited for. I find that skipping to my most anticipated scenes keeps me going, even in the face of writer’s block. Otherwise, a little caffeine and a comfy couch are all I need.
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)? Plotter, to the extreme. I like to have a chapter by chapter outline before I write a single word. For me, it’s often the convoluted conclusions of a story that motivate me most. Without having some implication of how it all ends, I doubt I’d find the motivation to start any story.
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres? Both you could say. Once I complete the The Adamic Trilogy, I plan on writing A Sliver of the Soul. It’s a Historical Fantasy Romance that adds soulmate magic to the tragic events of America’s colonization. I hope to finish and begin pitching it by January. From there, medical school is actually the plan. I’ve been accepted to medical school for Fall 2022, but that won’t be the end of my storytelling. Once I complete medical school, I have no doubt I’ll be back to writing.
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach? I definitely take the darker approach. Something about the realism of tragedy makes it infinitely more appealing. The truth is, characters die, heroes fail, and sometimes… villains are victorious. I think maintaining a realistic degree of darkness makes a story that much more believable.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars? What kind of trick question shenanigans is this? That’s like asking ‘which is better, food or water?’ Honestly, I’m not sure I want to give an answer, though I will say this. The Dividing most closely resembles Harry Potter in its contemporary fantasy nature. Of the three, Harry Potter definitely played the biggest inspirational role for my writing.
I have an Instagram account where I post daily writing prompts and short stories. https://www.instagram.com/writing.prompt.daily/?hl=en