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An Interview with Andy Baldwin

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I grew up around St. Louis, Missouri, and now live in Denver with my wife and young son. I have a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a master’s degree in Environmental Sciences.

I’m in the process of starting a YouTube channel and an interconnected blog called “I Don’t Know What I’m Supposed to Know,” or IDKWISTK for short. It’s sort of a satirical informational channel where I tell what I know about a certain topic without doing any research ahead of time. Topics will vary and will include things such as taxes, cooking, and parenting. I will go on rants and tangents and say and do funny or weird things. At the end of each video, I do some research and correct what I’ve said or add new information.

The best place to keep up to date on the happenings of my life is on Instagram at @abaldwin07.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

I have been enamored by stories since I was a child. I started to write stories of my own when I was in my late twenties.

Some of my favorite books as a kid were The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. They are wonderful and I still love them to this day. Ironically, reading these stories when I was younger made me feel as though I could never be a writer because of how Tolkien wrote. It wasn’t until I discovered Kurt Vonnegut that I decided I could actually do this too. Not to say that Vonnegut is a bad writer. His writing is to the point and extremely funny. His style of writing is much more relatable and made the idea of following in his footsteps and being a writer seem possible.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, I just never felt that I had anything I could really sink my teeth into and write about.

That is until Christmas of 2018 when I watched The First Purge with my wife and her family. I had already seen it in theaters, so I was noticing things beyond just the plot. The main thing I noticed was what several of the antagonists were wearing. That is, I couldn’t stop focusing on their masks as they “purged.” I was then hit with an idea. “What if there was a place where people were forced to wear such things, or even worse, and had to go through certain “trials” in order to get them removed?” I wrote paragraphs of text in a note on my phone as the movie played. That idea, of course, morphed into what became The Gifts of Adentri.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

It took forever. I didn’t find it until right before I first published it. It went through different iterations such as: Triad Caste, The Ulster Trials (the original name of the city explored in the book was Ulster), The Gifts of Ulster, and then finally The Gifts of Adentri.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I remember listening to “Lose Yourself” by Eminem while writing one of the more intense physical trial scenes, so definitely that. Probably also “Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace as well as several other heavier rock songs. Oh, and the theme to Saw. There’s a scene towards the end of the book that was inspired by those movies.

Describe your dream book cover.

It’s very simple, but I would want the cover to have the symbols for the three castes with a circle going around the cover connecting them. The background color would be a monochromatic blue.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have worked in several industries. Legal, utilities, geospatial, tech, etc. I am currently a stay-at-home dad with my three-year-old son.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

My book is set in a dystopian society, so I made sure to read, or reread, several books on that topic such as 1984, The Giver, Fahrenheit 451, and The Hunger Games. I read much of Vonnegut’s work too, including Slaughterhouse-Five. I also found several books about writing to help me be a better writer. Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell, Consider This by Chuck Palahniuk, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King, and several others.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

If you can dream it, you can do it. It’s cliche, but it fits in this situation. I don’t mean the story or plot of the novel. I’m talking about what the actual book itself represents. The finished product. To me, it shows that with enough hard work and dedication you can accomplish anything. Just keep going little by little. Step by step. Word by word, if you’re a writer. Eventually you’ll arrive at your destination. Even if it’s not where you intended to go it will be the place where you’re meant to be.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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Atmosphere Press is a selective hybrid publisher founded in 2015 on the principles of Honesty, Transparency, Professionalism, Kindness, and Making Your Book Awesome. Our books have won dozens of awards and sold tens of thousands of copies. If you’re interested in learning more, or seeking publication for your own work, please explore the links below.