Today it’s my pleasure to welcome author Mazzy Adams to the blog. Thanks so much for joining us, Mazzy.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Nola! It’s a pleasure to be here.
I’m intrigued by the tagline ‘Genre Rebel’ on your website. Why do you describe yourself in those terms?
Because, despite my best efforts to conform to genre expectations, my muse habitually breaks through imposed constraints to encompass a bigger world where diverse people, and characters, and stories, and writing styles are allowed to flourish, where differences are recognised and celebrated.
I want to give my characters transformational challenges and opportunities to break out of their own constraining boxes. Sometimes, that may challenge my readers’ comfort zones too, but hopefully in a good way, or a God way. After all, Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (The Living Bible)
A Genre-Bending Debut
Good on you for breaking out of that box and writing what’s on your heart.
Congratulations on the release of your debut novel ‘Licence to Die (GRUnGE.001)’. I do believe it’s the only novel I’ve come across that includes a chapter entitled ‘Discombobulated’! Love that word.
LOL. I love it too. Given it was the 2010 People’s Choice Word of the Year, we’re not alone!
Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired you to write it?
Hmm, it took me four months and fifty pages of attempts to narrow a ‘little about the story’ into the book’s blurb, so here’s a picture of the back cover blurb to answer that.
Inspiration arrived via a pushy ‘who’, in the character of Mac, who claimed responsibility for the tumult of thoughts behind an image of a stoic-faced, earbud-wearing youth on a train:
‘Take my miserable muse out of this tunnel of darkness into the glorious light as dawn reveals … Sheesh! Scintillating views of the industrial backside of Brisbane, the bums of shops and the private parts of houses, places you’re not supposed to see, full of junk, debris and dirty secrets.’
When Mac responded to a church billboard that claimed, “The Truth Will Set You Free”, with ‘Fat chance. My truth’s been erased. Annihilated. Replaced by an impenetrable edifice of deception. Edifice. I like that word. Just like the mirror glass surface of a city high-rise, the shiny, bright façade hides the murky mysteries within’, I was hooked. Who was this mysterious Mac? A poet or a prat? Or both?
While Mac’s ‘train’ of thoughts eventually surfaced in Chapter 24, they also birthed the burning questions that form the foundational premise of the novel. Did the proverb, ‘As he thinks in his heart, so is he’ ring true? How would we respond if a friend, or a stranger, knew our deepest thoughts? Or we knew theirs?
Mac’s ‘earbuds’ opened further possibilities: Was Mac hearing impaired? Have a cochlear implant? What if it was an experimental prototype transmitting everything Mac heard, or said, or thought—via satellite? Did Mac know that? When the answer was a resounding ‘No’, the questions, and the stakes, grew astronomically.
Ethics and Technology
The novel certainly raises some interesting issues surrounding ethics and the advancement of technology. What are your thoughts on that?
While my protagonists wrestle with all kinds of dilemmas—technological, circumstantial, emotional, relational, ethical, philosophical, metaphysical, even spiritual dilemmas—I think my role and goal as the author (apart from providing my protagonists and my readers with an entertaining, rip-snorting, page-turning, seat-of-your-pants, humdinger, life-and-death-stakes thriller) is to raise questions as a catalyst for thought.
Our thoughts—both positive and negative—have power, and consequences. How helpful, or destructive are they? How do they affect our hopes, our dreams, our relationships, our intentions, our goals, our beliefs about ourselves and others? Will our thoughts make us, or break us? Are we controlled by our circumstances, or by our response to them?
My three protagonists have developed positive and negative coping mechanisms in response to traumatic experiences. And each relies on that ‘one thing they do well’ to nurture their sense of self, and worth, and as an escape from the pain.
Ben tosses himself into his work with a zeal born from a sense of calling, heightened by grief and loneliness, and a deep desire to honour his father. But that zeal lands him slap-bang in the middle of a gigantic ethical quandary, not to mention a life-and-death struggle, courtesy of Mac and Chris.
Mac, who’s a virtual prisoner, resorts to cynicism and sarcasm as a protective buffer. And yet, Mac’s enforced isolation also provides a platform for a deep and meaningful thought life, expanded by an almost manic passion for words and their meaning. But Mac’s thought life captures way more than Ben’s attention as a tech guru, pushing his altruistic boundaries ever closer to breaking point.
In contrast, and despite kindnesses shown to him, Chris reacts, first and foremost, from an ugly mix of survivor’s guilt, grief-driven anger, and a conviction that his only hope lies in taking revenge on those responsible. He uses his prowess in gaming and game development to avoid dealing with the frustration and darkness within. He’s the poster boy for two clichés: as miserable as a bandicoot and as prickly as a porcupine and uses both as relationship buffers. And yet, Chris’s perceptive gaming friend, Mpeg, has an uncanny knack for reaching right through his armour plating and into his heart.
Add terrifying antagonists to the mix—some wrestling and others nurturing their demons—and peripheral characters whose intentions are as clear as mud, and the stage is set for a volatile climax with some surprising results
A Question of Faith
You’ve certainly given us some meaty issues to chew over. Although this book sits well within mainstream literature, there are allegorical elements that align with Christian faith. Can you share a bit about that without giving spoilers? Why was that important to you?
I happen to work with Secondary School students as a creative and academic writing tutor. When analysing any text for things like themes, positioning, literary techniques, textual features, etc, I always encourage my students to look for layers of meaning, both the obvious ones, and those that lie beneath the surface. Like a painter, a writer adds different layers (consciously or unconsciously) to the literary canvas to create a complete picture.
While I didn’t set out to write an allegory, neither could I, as a Christian believer and author, divorce myself or my writing entirely from my personal, faith-based worldview, so its emergence was not entirely surprising.
Also, as I learned from my Creative Writing degree studies, historically, English literature and Christian faith shared a symbiotic relationship; for centuries, the two seemed inseparable. If Jesus is the ‘Word” who spoke all things into being from the beginning, is it even possible to exclude him? Especially if we’re part of the very story Jesus spoke into being.
So the hidden layers are there, waiting to be discovered by those who seek to find them, those who understand that the earliest allegorical forms emerged through the names of the characters, those who notice similarities with well-known parables, who wonder about the symbols, the acronyms, the intertextual links, and the parallels between this story and more ancient works.
I could list examples … but where would the fun of discovery be in that? (Though a potential study guide remains on my future projects list.)
Perhaps, as a teaser, and in the light of the questions Licence to Die raises concerning the power and privacy of our thoughts, I’ll share this image of the first stanza from Mary (Sidney) Herbert’s 1595 poetic translation of Psalm 139.
Thanks for sharing that, Mazzy. That’s an interesting perspective. You self-published this novel from scratch, including cover design, layout and all the bits and pieces that go into making a beautifully presented book Do you have any advice for others who might be interested in taking that path?
Consider your end goal before you start! If you want to publish independently, take a pathway you can commit to and afford, to do it well. In my case, I felt a persistent nudge from the Holy Spirit to learn the ins and outs of publishing, not just writing. That bigger picture element influenced my choice to develop the additional skills I needed to publish a quality product consistent with market expectations, and the flexibility to venture further in the publishing arena in the future. Which is why I spent time, and energy, and money in areas that another author may choose to outsource. If not for that divine nudge and vision, I suspect I’d have tumbled ignominiously down the learning curve cliff-face long before I climbed it.
Mutual Support for Writers
Well done for scaling those heights. You’ve been a champion in supporting and encouraging other writers. Why is that so important in the writing community?
Writers are highly diverse creatures in the things we write, and there is much we can learn from each other. As my protagonists discover, the more isolated and insular you are, the more trouble you face alone!
Why settle for trouble or loneliness when there is support and safety and encouragement to be found in the company of those who share a heart to change the world through words? And an added bonus of taking time to support and encourage other writers, is the delightful and blessed surprise you receive when those you’ve blessed become your advocates.
You’ve certainly been someone who practises what she preaches regarding encouragement. Do you have any current projects you can tell us about?
My muse, who has been fickle of late, is finally bemusing the potential ins and outs and ups and downs of a sequel and I’m scribbling madly when she does. Occasionally she drops a potential plot point for a third book in the GRUnGE series too … but that’s another story.
While I also have two other novel outlines waiting in the wings for my future attention, I’ve felt recent promptings to develop an alternative anthology with memoir elements as the common link or theme.
And then there’s marketing … oi vey!
Thanks so much for chatting to us today, Mazzy. And speaking of marketing, why don’t we have a fabulous giveaway?
Mazzy has kindly offered a copy of her book Licence to Die to one lucky reader. (A signed print copy for readers with an Australian postal address or an eBook for those with an overseas address).
To be in the running, just add a comment to this post before midnight on Sunday 23 April 2023 (Australian Eastern Standard Time). The winner will be chosen at random from the eligible comments, and their name will be announced here, on the Nola Lorraine Facebook page, and in my next newsletter. For full terms and conditions, click here.
Mazzy Adams, Author, Genre Rebel
Intrigue and Inspiration with an Upmarket Down Under Vibe
A published author with a passion for words, pictures, and the positive potential in people, Mazzy Adams happily identifies as a bona fide genre rebel. Her picturesque, tongue-in-cheek writing style injects a quirky Down Under vibe to intrigue and inspiration alike. Mazzy’s debut thriller, Licence to Die (GRUnGE.001) hit the market in September, 2022.