Goldfish Grimm: If we could peek into your office (coffee shop, kitchen table, wherever you write), what would your writing process look like?

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Adam Israel: Bedlam, where up is behind you, black is a hole, and nothing is quite as it seems. I imagine it would be a little like peering into the whirlwind. Herein, there are no rules; demons made of dust haunt your dreams, clockwork dragons guard the skies, tantric wizards cast sex-fueled spells, and there’s enough tea to drown in.

GFG: What is it actually like?

AI: Every story has a slightly different process. In this particular case, I wrote the story (longhand) first and then did a reverse outline, where I realized I was missing two scenes and had others out of order.
Generally speaking, though, my process revolves around putting order to chaos. Starting with an interesting character or idea and picking from the number of things that inspire me to find what resonates. Eventually I’ll have something exciting in my head that is buzzing to get told.

GFG: Was there anything in particular that inspired “Control”?

AI: I wrote this story during the summer of 2010, while attending the Clarion Writers’ Workshop.
At the time, I hadn’t seen my wife for a few months thanks to an immigration issue. We spoke on the phone and emailed regularly, but I still missed her dearly.
I’d been getting progressively sicker over the previous six months, leading up to a diagnosis of Celiac Disease and Fibromyalgia shortly before attending Clarion. I’d just started a gluten-free diet, but I still had joint pain so bad that I could barely climb stairs without wanting to cry and I had to carry a jacket with me wherever I went because I was in a constant state of too hot or too cold.
Our week two instructor, George R.R. Martin, gave us an exercise about writing from emotional and personal experience. It was a breakthrough moment for me and that led to writing the first draft of “Control” the following week.

GFG: By the end of “Control,” the narrator has given her wife a very important decision to make. How do you see this relating to the changes that take place in earthbound relationships?

AI: I think the relationships might be very similar. Most people who are facing a long-term debilitating illness worry about the burden they’re placing on their friends and family. That kind of stress will change a relationship, for good or bad.

GFG: Do you have anything you’d like to plug or promote?

AI: Boy, do I ever! Actually, I’m not very good at self-promotion but I will point out the Inkpunks, where I co-blog with a group of really great people I’m honored to call friends. I’m also going to recommend the Clarion Writers’ Workshop to anyone who’s interested in being a writer. Besides meeting my wife, it was a turning point in my life.


Adam Israel

Adam Israel was born with one foot on the road and a book in his back pocket. Having lived in Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles, he’s expatriated to Ontario, Canada with his wife, three dogs and three cats. With his nomadic days behind him, he spends his days working freelance as a writer and software developer.

A graduate of the 2010 Clarion Writers’ Workshop, his fiction has appeared in print and pixel, most recently in Crossed Genres, and the anthologies The Crimson Pact 2 and Finding Home: Community in Apocalyptic Worlds. He is a member of the Inkpunks group blog, and can be found online at and on Twitter @adamisrael.