Interview with Adam Starks Ph.D., author of “Broken Child Mended Man”

What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand?

Long hand seems to come more natural to me. I don’t type especially fast, so when the spigot of ideas start flowing, it’s best for me to have a pen in hand and let the ideas flow through ink.

What inspires you to write?

Inner suffering. Some days, the only outlet I can rely on is putting pen to paper. Some days it’s just something as simple as a spark that ignites a set of ideas that are just yearning to come out on paper. I can’t soothe the chaos until I write. Yes, it definitely seems crazy. I believe all of us have a little crazy that resides in us, but some learn how to control it better than others.

What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?

It really depends on the reader. For some, they require enjoyment. For others, did it provide any relevant information. For me and likely many others, I ask, “Did the book force me to think?” It’s easy to have an opinion within my bubble based on life experiences. Reading allows me to tap into someone else’s perspective to better form my own with new information. I take pride in being “catalytic” because very few people can listen to ideas from all walks of life and form meaningful solutions based on that information.

What books have influenced your life the most?

Love by Leo Buscaglia. This book came across a critical juncture in my life. If I hadn’t read it when I was 26, it’s quite possible I wouldn’t be here today. The book taught me how to rely on loving myself without depending on someone else for happiness. Today, I’m a stronger man for it.

Anthem by Ayn Rand. While I don’t subscribe to her political philosophy, the storyline helped me develop a healthy skepticism for authority and always maintain my curiosity for the gift of knowledge on the other side of discovery.

A Long Way Gone by Ismael Beah. Beyond the self-induced PTSD, I had nightmares about this book for at least three weeks. No horror flick ever affected me the way Beah’s vivid descriptions of being a child soldier did. I’ve seen a lot and been through quite a life, but this book genuinely frightened me to force an understanding about the lengths of desperation child face in our cruel world.

The Alchemist by Paul Coelho. A thought-provoking classic that inspired me to continue a long-fought journey toward achieving my dreams, setbacks and all!

The Giver by Lois Lowry. Another classic that just moved me in ways that are hard to articulate. I always appreciate any book that can ignite my imagination, and this one managed to take me to a different world.

The Color of Water by James McBride. I can’t say enough about this book. McBride is the author I try to emulate. His method of what I refer to as “compassionate appreciation” makes me grateful for the life I’ve endured and greatly influenced Broken Child Mended Man.

The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris. Norris is another wonderful author. Trekking through her journey of discovery motivated me to start the process of piecing together my family tree. Her phrase about refraining from putting boulders in children’s pockets still resonates with me as I raise three confident children today.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I had to find a way to confront my ugliness, and Morrison put the consequences front and center if I didn’t engage my glaring insecurity. I don’t have enough time to delve into how the process of overcoming my insecurity occurred, but the connection to Pecola, the protagonist, was effectively real. Toni Morrison is simply masterful.

Is there anything you are currently working on that may intrigue the interest of your readers?

Of course! I’m working on a children’s book dedicated to foster children and parents. I hope we’ll be able to release it within the next year. I also have two nonfiction works and a fiction slated for release early-mid next year. The titles and outlines are complete. I’m working on the substance day by day, but I should have each one wrapped up by October or so.

Who are your books mostly dedicated to?

My book is dedicated first and foremost to those struggling to cope with past mistakes or their current plight in life. A close second would be the people who feel compelled to help the downtrodden in any way possible.

It is often believed that almost all writers have had their hearts broken at some point in time, does that remain true for you as well?

Yes! Too many times, but I’m a stronger man for it. Hurt doesn’t always have to turn into despair. Hurt is an opportunity to learn a lesson, which in turn, manifests into resilience.

Do you have a day job other than being a writer? And do you like it?

Yes, I do. At this time, I plead the 5th!

Have any of your books been adapted into a feature film?

No, but I have a producer shopping Broken Child Mended Man on my behalf. I’m cautiously optimistic about the prospects.

What other genres do you enjoy reading?

Historical fiction, self-help/improvement, business, philosophy, American history across all cultures and ethnicities, memoirs, and sci-fi.

When can the readers expect your next book in print?

God willing, I’ll have a children’s book out by the end of this year. Expect at least one fiction and one non-fiction early to mid-2017.

What weather inspires you the most, in terms of bringing out your literary best?

There’s nothing better than a breezy summer day with my back against a tree to incite an inner peace that allows a creative flow.

Do you encourage your children to read?

Yes, yes, and yes. There’s nothing more important to me than establishing a love of learning and reading. It’s been a challenge, but thanks to my wife’s creative ideas along with our leading by example, we managed to establish a solid foundation for all three of our kiddos.

Is there a particular kind of attire you like to write in?

My “thinking gear” as I refer to it, are hoodies and sweatpants in the winter and fall. In the summer months, a silk shirt and comfy shorts are the way to go. It’s important to be as comfortable as possible when honing in on your craft.

Were you a troublemaker as a child?

Yeah, I was a hellion. Much of the storyline behind Broken Child Mended Man is about my acting out and other nonsensical antics that come to define my childhood.

How long do you take to write a book?

It took about 10 months from conception to pen down. I was proud of what I managed to accomplish within the course of a year. The next few books will take much longer mainly because I’m venturing into parenting, social psychology and sci-fi.

Do you blog?

Absolutely! I blog about Broken Child Mended Man, but I’m hoping to venture out into other issues as I release new books in the future. If you go to www.adamstarks.com, you’ll find my work.

How active are you on social media? And how do you think it affects the way you write?

I’m active, but I haven’t discovered the point of social media. On Facebook and Twitter, they want me to pay for more exposure, which obtains more “likes,” but I’m a business guy. If they’re going to take my money for marketing purposes, then I want a return on investment (ROI) with increased book sales. I’ve spent hundreds without selling a single book. For example, I have 850 or people who like my Facebook Author page, but I’ve only managed to eclipse 400 book sales. I’d rather have sales than likes, so it’s a lot of effort for very little return or feedback.

For the second question, social media is great for conveying information serves as more of a distraction than anything. The information overload contributes to everyone doing whatever it takes to garner someone’s else attention. Sorry, but I’m not getting butt naked to sell a book!  I’ll just continue posting and relying on traditional word of mouth.

If you had to pick one other author to write your biography, who would it be?

James McBride. Man, that brother is among the gods when it comes to mastering the artistry of writing.

Do you prefer being intoxicated to write? Or would you rather write sober?

It depends. I know writing is therapeutic, but my motivation is often to relax after a long day at the office. I like to drink a glass of wine or two to mellow me out, and then let the ideas flow onto the page.

Is today’s generation more aware of the literary art or less?

Again, it depends. Schools aren’t getting the resources they need to focus on the literary arts. It’s almost considered an extracurricular activity to make way for excessive testing and STEM curriculum, but nothing is more important than literary philosophy to determine our place and gaining perspective in the world.