A devout video gamer for three decades, including most of the massively multiplayer online role-playing games out there, Arlo Adams also played Dungeons and Dragons like an addict in his early days. He loved rolling the dice to determine the fates of his imaginary characters. Now, he’s putting the same imagination to use in a new LITRPG Series, Enora Online.
When did you first start writing fiction?
Starting when I was around seven my mom borrowed an Agatha Christie book from the library for me. (Libraries are these places with lots of books you can read for free). After that, I read Christie a LOT. Then I wrote short little whodunnits (where the butler was always a good guess). I wrote one novel in college on one of those portable IBM PCs. It was a spy thriller, but I lost it on a bad floppy (yes, literally a floppy). Great, now I’ve aged myself.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading? Paper or eBook?
I’ll read anything by a good writer, and while I mostly listen to audiobooks these days (option 3) to quiet the voices in bed at night, I read more on Kindle than paperback because they just take up space and I don’t like the clutter. They do look nice on shelves, though. I’ve read everything Stephen King has written, it goes without saying I love LitRPG when it’s well-written, but my favorite book so far is The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. So yeah, I gots range.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Daybreak by Chris Niles. An espionage thriller that made my heartbeat change rhythm.
…and A Love Divine by Alexandra Ripley.
Of your books, which is your personal favorite? Why?
I like the journey Gemini goes on in Gemini’s Crossing. But Quest for Roshan stands out because that’s when a lot of the lore comes through, plus Desini and Guiles show up, and I love writing them. But when I think about the one I most enjoy revisiting, it’s definitely Seran’s Reach (Book 5).
You can make one LitRPG book (not your own) a movie. Which is it and why?
Oh Gods. WTF. Um… I might be biased by having read it recently, but as book ones go, probably Rogue Dungeon by Eden Hudson and James Hunter. Eden is a wordsmith. Nick Poedhl did a great job on the narration for that one, too.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I believe in a psychological disposition many writers share that cause THEM to believe in writer’s block. Is that an answer? Sit down. Clear your head. Make words. Then, delete those words if they suck. Eventually, a writer will get back into flow. But preparation does magnitudes of good to keep a story flowing.
Are you an outliner or pantser?
And that goes back to writer’s block. Outliners who believe in their story are less likely to get blocked (purely conjecture based on my own experience.) But I didn’t really answer the question.
I created a template that took the critical elements of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and inserted the ones from Libby Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants. I reference those to create medium-length beats, but give myself enough room to twist and turn as I go. If something strikes me as a better way to reach the goal I’m trying to accomplish by the end of the chapter, then I go with it. That happens all the time. So, I’m a structured pantser? Is there such a thing?
What is your writing process like?
Flexible. Chaotic. I guess it depends on the story. I also contend with a vestibular condition that makes it hard to read text for too long, and while I’ve tried dictation it’s just not my jam. So, usually I get an exciting base idea (usually just as I’m about to fall asleep in bed (#reMarkabletabletFTW)) and expand on it. Then I talk through it with my wife which exposes pitfalls because (A) she’ll see them or (B) talking about the story allows me to see it with more clarity. Then I use the aforementioned template to fill in the right ideas for the right parts, then I draft.
How many hours a day do you write?
Some days less than an hour. Others, all day long if my eyes will tolerate it. But I operate more on word count than time writing. I try to get a minimum of 2,000 words, and have been known to get 8,000 on the really good days.
Share a photo of your workspace and tell us about it?
We recently moved the dining table (we don’t use it to dine) to the wall in front of a window because it’s big, and I can also produce music on the iMac when I can’t write anymore that day. I love that Graphite 49 keyboard, but I guess that’s another interview. Note the empty dog treat jar on the left. It adds character while telling you something about me, I think.
Who are some of your favorite authors of all time?
I’m sorry, that information is classified.
Okay, I declassified it.
Tolkien (but not the Silmarillion, gah!).
Dumpy endings aside, Stephen King, which just makes me sound so original, right? Good is good. Sue me.
Margaret Atwood. She makes words pretty.
Agatha Christie — I put a little mystery into everything I write because of that woman.
Where do you get your ideas?
I have no idea. Somewhere in the right hemisphere of the brain is this region that controls creativity. And it chooses interesting times to engage. That’s as close as I can get to answering the question.
What are your thoughts on how VR will affect the future of humanity?
If it reaches its potential, I think we’ll work in it, play in it, and escape to it. It would do wonders for pollution, because people would rarely leave the house.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I research between writing sessions when I need to. If there’s something I don’t know about as I’m writing, I make a note in Scrivener then come back to it after I’m done writing.
First video game memory?
Missile Command and Space Invaders on the Atari 2600, and a Gauntlet sit-down machine at Woolworth’s if you can believe it, was my first video RPG. Loved that game.
What can fans expect from you next?
Enora Online exceeded my expectations, and I wanted to tell the story of an NPC that existed in that world. So, I’m currently working on the first book in that series. I’m enjoying it, which is usually a good sign.
Anything else you would like to add?
Wash your hands!