Maine writer, Glenn Adams, is a master at authoring gripping arm chair adventure novels. His descriptive prose is seasoned with just the right amount of historical details, and shot through with edge-of-your seat exploits that guarantee a delightfully satisfying reading experience. I’m delighted to be hosting Glenn at The Novelist’s Nook today!
Thanks for stopping by, Glenn, to take part in this Q&A. My first question is in regards to your new novel, The Ghosts of Red Bank. The story is set in your birth state of Pennsylvania and, as a boy, you explored many of the places that are mentioned in the book. What is your favorite of those landmarks, and why?
Actually, I was born in Woodbury, New Jersey, in what had been a doctor's house just off Red Bank Avenue. The Fort Mercer site of the Battle of Redbank was very special to our family. Countless times, my parents packed the bunch of us kids (I have four sisters and a brother) in the back of the station wagon, took us to the battlefield site in National Park and let us run wild. When my parents were old, I took them to the same place, nearly unchanged, where they gazed at the river and no doubt replayed those old memories.
Your young protagonist in The Ghosts of Red Bank has a way of finding adventure. What is your most memorable childhood escapade?
I have many. They include some stuff included in the book like climbing into the bell tower and hanging around the railroad tracks. Seeing trains whiz by was a rush to a kid. Some of my most memorable adventures unfortunately involve other dangers, such as crossing swamps and railroad bridges on elevated utility pipes. Bike hikes on our old Schwinns and Columbias were always fun, too.
The rich history you've woven through The Ghosts of Red Bank adds incredible depth to the story. What historical event has impacted you the most?
Being from New Jersey, we couldn't escape the colonial history that constantly surrounded us. But often it went almost unnoticed, or taken for granted. Lord Cornwallis' headquarters is right in the middle of town, and colonial burial grounds were nearby. My most memorable event came much later, in November 1963, when I sold “extras” of the local paper on the street corner the afternoon President Kennedy was shot.
You moved to Maine from Pennsylvania. What do you enjoy the most about life in Vacationland? What do you like the least?
My wife Betty and I met and worked for a newspaper literally on the edge of another Revolutionary War site, Valley Forge, and later traveled before winding up at a paper in – where else? – Woodbury. Coming to Maine was not a new thing since I had gone to the University of Maine and had a good handle on the place. I like the slower pace in Maine, rural atmosphere, near absence of shopping malls, and the people. Maine has its own fascinating history too. Least favorite would have to be mud season.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have a makeshift desk in my man's cave, where it's cool in the summer and close to the wood stove in the winter. But camp or anyplace else will do, because the writing gets done in my head and punching keys is just executing.
The Ghosts of Red Bank highlights life during the 1960's. Who is your favorite musical artist or group from that decade?
Who else? The Beatles. (Lest I overlook Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Grass Roots, Four Tops, Box Tops, Young Rascals, Fireballs … )
In addition to novels, you also author travel features. What is the best road trip you've ever taken?
Our 12,000-mile motorcycle trip around the United States in 1978: Mountains, prairies, desert, sleeping in a tent and on beaches, motoring through all sorts of weather, stopping in lots of bars, meeting all sorts of people. That book's coming.
Speaking of travel, your first novel, Ambrose, is based on your experience co-editing the Queen Elizabeth 2's newspaper with your wife, Betty. There are some interesting meals mentioned in the book. What is the most unusual food you've eaten on your travels?
The menus on the QE2 were full of interesting stuff, such as haggis (basically sheep's guts), tongue and sweetbreads (Google it, but they're neither sweet nor bread). In Japan, I've slurped up slimy seaweed and did my best with raw squid and octopus.
Thanks for taking the time to chat, Glenn. We look forward to reading your next book! And thanks for sharing this excerpt from The Ghosts of Red Bank.
Doolan stopped and tugged at what looked like a closet door and it creaked open to pure darkness. He motioned me silently to come in and closed the door behind us. I froze as I heard Doolan make his way up a few squeaky steps and slide a wooden dead bolt. Then, as he pushed the overhead door open, light streamed in.
“Quick, come on up,” Doolan said in a hushed voice. “Quick!”
The base of the belfry was covered with a thick blanket of pigeon droppings, but the few birds that had been roosting there took flight as we arrived. I peered through the arched openings around the bell at the traffic, pedestrians and tarred tops of the buildings below as the wind whistled softly through the perch. At the rear of the belfry, a narrow staircase, encrusted with pigeon goop, rose to a trap door leading to the clock tower above.
As I looked more closely, fingering my lucky coin as I concentrated, I could see a steel shaft running from a hole in the floorboards above to a box at the top of the bell. Doolan was standing on the base of the belfry opening when I called over to him.
“Doolan, yo, what’s that steel rod above the bell?”
He turned and looked up to where I was pointing. Doolan was a little crazy, but pretty smart about electrical and mechanical things. He stared for 10, maybe 15 seconds, his eyes following the line of the shaft to the boards above the bell.
“Yeah, I know. That’s the trigger, I’ll bet. Look, when the clock strikes a new hour, the gears turn that shaft and that’s when the bell …”
The earsplitting sound vibrated through me and nearly knocked me off my feet. I quickly regained my balance, and it was a good thing because I was able to get to Doolan, who had lost his balance and was almost knocked out of the belfry by the mighty sound. His arms waved as he teetered on the edge of the stone base.
--Excerpt from The Ghosts of Red Bank, reprinted with permission from the author.