Xenoman was a quirky novel I read late last year. It really surprised me.
Adam was wonderful and let me ask him some questions:
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’ve spent my whole life in California. I was born in Santa Monica, California. Lived in Encino, moved to Pacific Palisades, went to Pacific Palisades Elementary School, then Paul Revere Junior High for a year. Finished junior high in Los Gatos, graduated from Los Gatos High School, moved to Orange County, got into theatre at Orange Coast College, got my B.S. At CSULB (Long Beach) in TV, Radio & Film, with a minor in graphic design. With the exception of the screenwriting class, the program was so-so, but the tuition was cheap by today’s standards. I bounced around, worked at Kinko’s copy centers, and Xerox, before that whole industry went away, and ended up in Lake Forest, now working as an installer for a telecom company.
What made you want to become an author?
Boredom. Meeting people wasn’t hard, but meeting exciting and interesting people was. Once I got into theatre in my twenties, I started writing sketches and reading books on structure. It was later at CSULB that I took the screenwriting course, and writing longer pieces started to make more sense. I haven’t done anything theatre-wise in years, and I’ve circled around from spending time with exciting people, in exchange for people who tend to get things done, do what they say they are going to do, and don’t have all sorts of glaring personality defects. I’ve done the whole weird for weird sake thing, and it gets boring after awhile.
Where did the idea for Xenoman come from?
I was living with an uncle in Newhall, a sort of desert town, where Six Flags Magic Mountain is, working at Kinko’s, bored with theatre, and I got hooked on this idea of a morphic device that goes beyond the electronic media devices of escapism today, into paranormal realms, and having all the same shortcomings: it overheats and malfunctions (like today’s cell phones), and what you escape to is either limited in scope: a person’s voice over the phone tells you nothing about their context, or disappointing: everything that you see on the small or big screen is not exactly the backstage truth about how the actual person(s) occupy space and time as they really are.
What are 5 of your most favorite books?
Off the top of my head, not in any order…
- The Stranger by Albert Camus
- The Fall by Albert Camus
- The Steppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
- Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
- I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Where did the name Xeno come from?
I wanted to create a new superhero, like Batman, or Superman, who was existentially defective in semi-humorous ways, and I saw the word “xenomorph” in an Alien article, describing the species as such, so I went with that. The origin of the word Xeno: combining form of Greek xénos stranger, guest (noun); alien, foreign, strange (adj.). There’s other incarnations of Xenoman on the internet: a Megaman character, a few bands with different spellings, kids on Twitter and other social media, but if you want the you want the real McCoy, you have to go the right manufacturer (ha ha!).
If you could be any character in Xenoman, who would it be?
If it ever got made into a mini-series, I thought it would be fun to be a recurring actor in the infomercials playing in the background, advertising horrible products and services only the most gullible people would buy, while the main characters are walking to and fro in the city.
What was your biggest inspiration while writing Xenoman?
The realization that if I didn’t finish it, I would always regret it, and further regret it if I was in the rest home with a few months to live and seeing something just like Xenoman written by some kid, and having the thought, “That could have been me . . . I could have done that . . .” followed by, “I could have been a contender… ” like Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Enjoy your weird for weird sake period, and have fun writing your 300 page play about how your girlfriend/boyfriend is the most beautiful girl/boy/both in the whole school, you have to go through it. But after that, you have to figure out a way to teach yourself how to edit your own work, and learn to become as good an editor as you are a writer. It doesn’t have to be perfect. What matters is knowing when you’re rehashing the same point in four different paragraphs, or when your characters are just yacking to yack, instead of revealing the narrative in a semi-controlled fashion that only appears to be improvised. Go to some bad plays , or youtube them, and you can actually see and hear what confusing, stilted, repetitive dialogue sounds like. Just because it’s a classic, it doesn’t mean it’s good across the board. Years ago, I saw The Good Person of Szechwan by Brecht at UC Irvine. I get the history of why Brecht wrote like he wrote and I respect his creativity and intelligence, but I was so bored I thought my head was going to explode like Michael Ironside in that movie Scanners. Waiting for Godot by Beckett, surreal and moves at a pretty steady clip. Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles, stilted presentation style, but the concepts themselves are still fascinating and worth thinking about. The entire uncut version of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare – never again. Macbeth – yes. Hamlet? It seems like high schools in America only know how to do three plays: Hamlet, The Odd Couple, and Grease. Seriously? It really depends on what you’re trying to do as well. The best place to start is with an inspiring idea or concept that just continually stays with you and requires a further creative product, story, play, book, painting, album, a boxed-set, with speakers. Having someone else edit your work may be fine for awhile, but it’s like having someone change your the tires on your car every time you get a flat. Everyone should know how to change a spare tire on a car. If you don’t know, have someone show you.
What do you want readers to take away after reading Xenoman?
That you can take chances with narrative and still be coherent and on point. Read Xenoman before you come into contact with teachers, or instructors, that say you have to do this, or have to do that, not because it’s bad, but because secretly they would never take the chance. I never had a really big row with any teachers. Mostly, it was people scratching their heads, which I already knew they were going to do anyways.
Do you have any other books in the works?
I have a bunch of notes for three other books. I know the basic plots and what I want to illustrate. I just need to live long enough to finish them.