Author Spotlight Adam Gaffen
Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
“You know me. Jump first, knit a parachute on the way down.” Kendra Cassidy, A Quiet Revolution (Cassidy 4)
Adam Gaffen is the author of the near-future, LGBTQ-inclusive science fiction series The Cassidy Chronicles. A prequel, Memories of Aiyana, was recently released by one of his main characters and he’s not sure how he feels about that.
He’s a frequent guest at cons and enjoys sending his stories out into the world to entertain, educate, and enhance reader’s lives. He lives in Colorado with his wife, five dogs, five cats, and wonders where all the time goes.
What books do you have available? Can you give us a short description of them?
Ask the lengthy question, wontcha?
My books are all set in my Cassidyverse, so let’s talk about them!
The Cassidy Chronicles Volume 1: Kendra, a semi-retired actress, Derek, a light sculpture designer, and Aiyana, a genius physicist, planned their perfect wedding. But who invited the assassin? Now they’re on the run and seeking answers. They’re going to change the world, if they survive the honeymoon.)
The Road to the Stars (Vol 2): Kendra and Aiyana Cassidy’s dreams are coming true. Aiyana’s teleportals are growing in popularity, and Kendra’s starship is nearly complete. But the Artemis Colony is throttling the planet’s supply of rare earth metals. If Artemis isn’t stopped soon, in twenty years ¾ of the population will be dead. They don’t want a war, but if Artemis insists, Kendra’s never learned how to back down.
The Measure of Humanity (Vol 3): The Artemis Colony thought it would flatten the newborn Terran Federation, but Kendra Cassidy’s creation is still standing. Both sides are bloodied but unbowed six months after the first shots were fired. Realizing they can’t topple the Federation through force alone, Artemis digs into Kendra’s past and discovers a skeleton. Now she must defend herself in space as well as the courts. If she fails in either? Her Federation will fall.
A Quiet Revolution (Vol 4): Kendra Cassidy never wanted to go to war, but she learns fast. For a year, Artemis has tried take down her Terran Federation and failed. The Solarian Union is in danger of fragmenting as the tide of war turns. Worse, there are rumbles of discontent from within their population. But Kendra’s never seen an advantage she wouldn’t take. She didn’t want this war in the first place, and now she’ll do anything to end it.
Triumph’s Ashes (Vol 5): Kendra Cassidy thought that by toppling the Solarian Union she could end a bloody war she never wanted. But the Union of Artemis has risen from the ashes, bent on destroying the Terran Federation and slaughtering the rebels on Luna. Now everyone Kendra loves is in the path of the firestorm, and she must decide who and what to sacrifice. Both sides know that there is no victory without cost, but who will pay the price?
Memories of Aiyana: When you put together two intelligent, independent, and curious girls, what did you think would happen? Kendra tells the tales in her own words of the misadventures of her childhood with Aiyana!
Into the Black: Explore the Cassidyverse, where life will take you in unexpected directions. Kendra Cassidy’s dream was to drag humanity to the stars. Along the way she invested her fortune, her sweat, and her blood to make the Terran Federation real. But she wasn’t the only one; her crew struggled alongside her to bring it to life. These are their stories.
Do you stay in one genre when you write or do you find yourself veering toward others?
I play in the sci-fi sandbox, but I have maybe an unusual way of looking at the genre. In my mind, two things separate SF from the other genres. First, it’s always about hope for the future. No matter how bleak the future portrayed, it’s always A future. The existence of a future means, to me, that it's not set, that there’s a chance to improve it. And second, any other genre you want to write? You can write it within SF. I have a noir detective story in my anthology. There’s a straight-up RomCom in there. There’s a teen angst story in there. But they’re all Science Fiction, because of where/when they’re set.
Are you a panster, planner, or someone in between?
I have heard the term gardener, which seems to be a good middle ground. I have seeds, and I know what they’ll grow into, so I plant them. But I don’t know what branches will sprout from the seeds, or how they’ll grow, or even if they’ll thrive or need pruning.
What is your writing routine like?
Every day starts with marketing. That allows me to ease into thinking about the projects I’m currently working on. Then I go to the administrivia – answering emails and the like. If I am doing an interview, I try to schedule it for the morning. By the afternoon I start poking at putting words down, and then finally get into a flow before and after dinner.
Tell me about your favorite character that you’ve created?
That’s tough. Kendra Cassidy is certainly the center of this universe, so much so that she’s intruded into the real world. I mean, she does do most of the blog posts on the website! But I’d say Daniela Garcia-Kay is my favorite, because she epitomizes the organic nature of my writing.
Back when I was writing The Road to the Stars, I asked my fellow ASU students to give me their names to include in my book. One woman, Justina Brianna Daniela Garcia, gave me hers, but it was such an awesome name I told her I’d turn her into triplets, which I did. Now, all three were involved in the Wolf shuttle program, as pilots or engineers, and they all had handles. Brianna is Batgirl; Justina is Junkyard; and Daniela is Double Dip. Why is she Double Dip? Because she’s trained as both an engineer and pilot, where her sisters are a pilot OR an engineer (with familiarization in the other job, enough to flip a few switches). That was it; I had a clever nickname, so I used it.
Fast-forward to the third book, and suddenly Kendra’s ordered the development of space fighters. They have enough space for one person, who has to be both a pilot and engineer. Guess who’s the only person qualified to learn to fly this bird? Right, Daniela. So she’s the first test pilot, then the instructor pilot, teaching others, then the first squadron commander… Her career takes off, and she becomes more and more visible and important as the series goes on.
At this point, with the anthology, she’s got two stories which are about her. By the end of the second story? She’s an admiral.
Where do you get your ideas for world building?
My universe is set in the relatively near future, so the basic societal matrix is relatively recognizable. I dipped into Heinlein’s Future History, at least for the idea of charting out a history, and then I shattered the United States into a dozen smaller nations which more-or-less coexist. From there I dropped in details that seemed to add depth to the world. But I don’t do massive exposition; I’ll casually mention something, like the e-deb system they use, then a quick explanation later. (E-deb is the system which supplanted cash.)
Do you add romance to your writing? Is it steamy or clean?
Do I add it? Not as such. But it’s there, because the characters are living their lives and I’m telling their stories. Romance happens in our lives, and it happens in theirs. But I kept it clean in the main series, since there wasn’t any place where a really passionate scene would move the plot forward. Plenty of hints, though. And in the anthology, it gets more explicit, because the stories require it. The next novel, coming in June? Up another notch.
What was your favorite scene to create?
Oh, boy. ONE scene? Just one?
Okay, this goes way back, to the first volume in the series. Chapter five in the section “A Deadly Quest.” Kendra’s just awakened after being captured and drugged, so I run through her assessing her situation. She’s tied naked to a chair inside a cage. Does that stop her from being a smartass? Nope. Does it stop her from working every angle? Nope. It sums up her character as we’re introduced to her.
Of course, there are scenes I like equally throughout the series.
Where do you get character inspiration?
From the characters themselves. I have a vague idea of what they need to be, based on the situation I place them in, and their reaction to the situation reveals their personalities to me.
What genre do you prefer to read?
I’m definitely a sci-fi guy, but I’ll try virtually anything. Urban fantasy can be fun, I enjoy thrillers (Crichton/Cussler/Clancy), mysteries (Westlake). I’m not much for literary-for-the-sake-of-literary. It has to tell a good story with engaging characters, not simply exist to paint word poems.
Do you have any specific authors you follow and try to craft your work after?
Not consciously. I know that Heinlein and Douglas Adams are huge influences on me, but I’m rather indiscriminate over where and when I am influenced. Depending on what I’m reading, you’ll find a whisper of it in what I wrote at the time.
Do you have any recurring themes in your book?
Each of the first five volumes has an overarching theme. The first book is about doing everything for family – blood, found, and chosen. The second book is about adjusting to new responsibilities. The third, what does it mean to be human? The fourth shows that the biggest change can start from the smallest spark. And the fifth is about the price of dreams, and whether you’re willing to pay it.
What does your editing process look like?
I edit as I go. I know, it’s a terrible thing (according to some authors), but I find it keeps what I’m writing both consistent and fresh, since I’ve gone back and looked at earlier chapters just that day. I also use Pro Writing Aid, which helps keep me on track. Once I finish, I will try to set it aside for a bit, not always successfully, before going back through and reading it. Changes will happen, then it goes to some early readers. Once it’s fairly well squared away, I read it out loud to my wife, and that’s usually the final fix.
Do you have a preferred drink or snack that you eat/drink while writing?
Not as such. I’ll have my iced cacao/coffee blend in the morning, and at some point during the day I’ll have some pretzels, but the rest?
When is your favorite time of day to write and why?
Late afternoon/early evening, because it seems I’m most productive then.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
We really haven’t done much lately, for obvious reasons, but prior to the pandemonium we loved going to Vegas. It’s funny, neither of us gamble, but we love the shows and food. Our last trip we caught three shows: Elton John, then a triple bill of Elle King, Joan Jett, and Heart, and finally Eric Clapton. Can you say Bucket List?
Marvel or DC? Do you have a favorite character?
I grew up with Justice League cartoons, so I know the DC characters better. That said, the MCU is a more coherent universe. And I think that a favorite character is a tossup between Valkyrie, Wonder Woman, and Deadpool. Though I think Deadpool would be the most fun to hang out with.
What hobbies do you have?
I used to have this great hobby, I’d sit at my computer and write down stories? But now it’s what I do, so I don’t know what my hobbies are any longer!
Where can our readers find you?
Well, all the books are on Amazon, and they’re also slowly going wide so you can pick them up anywhere! Any format you want, I’ve got it – ebook, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook.
If you want to meet me, I’m going to be at Multiverse Con in Atlanta in October. There are other irons in the fire, but I haven’t firmed those up yet.
Online, you can find me most weekends on This Week In Indies (Go Indie Now!).
You can head to my website, or to social media, or you can send me an email. Adam@thecassidychronicles.com
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/adam-gaffen/e/b009qmiw3k
Don’t Like Amazon? Books2Read.com/cassidy -- books2read.com/cassidyroad – books2read.com/cassidyversecollection – books2read.com/cassidyomnibus – books2read.com/cassidytriumph – books2read.com/cassidyquiet – books2read.com/cassidymeasure
FB Author Page: www.facebook.com/adamgaffenauthor
FB Fan Group: www.facebook.com/groups/fansofadamgaffen