By day, Taylor Adams can be found at the Seattle-based television station KING 5, where he works as an account manager. But for two hours most early mornings, the 30-year-old Mercer Island resident is a novelist. You might have seen his most recent thriller, No Exit, moving like a yo-yo up and down Amazon’s list of Kindle Best Sellers, among notable titles by J.K. Rowling and Michael Connelly. Adams sold the film rights for an earlier novel, Eye Shot. The movie is in its early stages of preproduction. We caught up with Adams to talk about writing, publishing, and all things thrilling.
425: How long have you been writing?
Adams: Since I could hold a pen, pretty much. When I was younger and through high school, Mount Rainier erupting was always the go-to plot for me (to write about) because I always thought volcanoes were really cool. Then I studied film in college and, after (graduating), I wrote my first really serious, adult attempt at a novel. That one got published, and now I’m three (novels) down the line.
425: How did you transition from an education in film to writing novels?
Adams: I was a production assistant for a little while for a production company in Spokane. That was fun, but it was also very exhausting, (there were) a lot of weird hours, and you just kind of had to chase down your work. I just remember thinking maybe this isn’t the right thing for me. So, I ended up going from film into television. There’s a consistent paycheck with working at a TV station versus film productions, so that (was) a total improvement. (Now,) I’ll go to the office every day, and then either in the evenings or the mornings — usually the mornings — I get all my writing done.
425: Your last book, No Exit, came out in July and seems to be doing very well on Amazon. Tell us about it.
Adams: No Exit is about a kidnapped child that is locked in a stranger’s van at a rest stop where a bunch of travelers are snowed in with no help for miles.
425: Wow, that does sound suspenseful! How would you describe that in just one Tweet (140 characters)?
Adams: “Worst. Night. Ever. #keepdriving”
425: Love the hashtag. How about the plot just in emojis?
425: Was the thriller/suspense genre a path you always wanted to follow?
Adams: I’m just a big fan of very tight — kind of contained — stories with small casts of characters and high pressure, and I think the genre I chose has really allowed me to get to play with a lot of that.
425: I’m sure you’ve got some idols within the genre.
Adams: Oh, tons. I love Stephen King. Who doesn’t? Stephen Hunter is another. He is a thriller author (who wrote) the Bob Lee Swagger series of books.
425: With so much strife in the world today, how do you think the thriller/suspense genre provides an escape for people?
Adams: As upsetting as these stories can be, they’re often about good people facing and overcoming obstacles. I think that’s an important message to have in our entertainment. The terror and violence are things the heroine (of No Exit) fights to overcome. In doing so, she learns how strong she truly is. The bad stuff serves the story’s emotional journey, which is, hopefully, satisfying and life-affirming for the reader.
425: Do you ever immerse yourself too deeply into your suspense world that you have to do something to bring yourself back to a “happier” place?
Adams: Sure. In addition to books and movies, I really enjoy video games. They are my escape, and a good way to recharge. I’m also a big fan of news bloopers on YouTube — that’s probably my equivalent of funny cat videos.
425: What is that like, when you see your book ranking well on Amazon’s lists?
Adams: It’s cool. It also seems scary. I try not to read the reviews because you aren’t supposed to, but I do anyway. It is neat to see when people really like it, and how they get excited about the same parts of the story that made me excited.
425: Does any of that make you feel like you’ve “made it” as a novelist?
Adams: It’s kind of hard to say. This book is doing really well right now, and that’s really cool. But I guess if I could get to the point where I could quit my day job, then I could feel like I really made it. Right now, it is kind of feast or famine.
425: What’s on the horizon for you?
Adams: As soon as I figure out what the heck I’m going to write next, I’ll probably do that. I’m also hoping (to) get another film-rights sale with No Exit. Also, I might try to get back into screenwriting; I think that would be a fun change of pace from writing books.
425: Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?
Adams: I think the thing that helped me the most was sticking to a schedule. Get a really solid writing schedule in place and, even if you don’t want to do it, just open your computer and look at it. Even if you are just staring at a blank page for two hours, your mind is at least kind of in that zone. Often, I find that when I wake up, the last thing I want to do is work on this stupid book that is full of problems. But then I’ll look at it for a while and think, OK, maybe I can do this. tayloradamsauthor.com