To Tell a Story

For nearly a decade, I’ve spent my life making blockbuster films. It was a long road and many years of hard work to get there, but the lure of telling stories was too strong to resist. I had to work in the movies. A week after graduating college I packed my bags and headed off to Hollywood to work on my first feature as a Technical Director: the film I,Robot.

There I was, in Hollywood, making my dreams come true! The work was hard — I spent a year programming systems that enabled the computer generated robot co-stars in I,Robot to come to life. I’d read Isaac Asimov since I was a boy, and now this was in some small way my chance to touch his greatness, to put his vision on the screen, to get as close to his stories as I could. I,Robot was nominated for an Academy Award that year, and there, rolling across the screen with the rest of the credits appeared my name: Adam Glendon Sidwell.

I thought that nothing might ever be more satisfying than that.

For a time, there wasn’t. The film industry took me to New Zealand to build characters for the Academy Award winning King Kong. It took me to George Lucas’s Industrial Light + Magic to work on zombie pirates for Pirates of the Caribbean. It took me to Los Angeles to build lightwalls and digital characters for TRON: Legacy. It allowed me to work on the upcoming Ender’s Game film. I got to build robots. I got to build zombies. I got to make monsters. If you’ve got a minute, you can even see some of my work in this demo reel:

I met directors. I met movie stars. I showed Jeff Bridges where the bathroom was. I heard Michael Bay gush over how many humvees he’d captured on film for Transformers II.

But all the while I kept hearing a voice inside my head tell me: the long lasting success of a movie comes from its story. The Dark Knight’s clash with Bane existed in comics long before it came to the screen. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings was alive in readers’ minds decades before the technology to make Gollum ever existed. Movies need stories. Look at Pixar. They know that.

Story is why I got into movies in the first place. It’s also why a few months ago, I quit my job. I was working on Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming project Pacific Rim. Guillermo is a brilliant director. My fellow artists were some of the most talented people I’ve ever known. But after nearly a decade of working on other people’s stories, it was time to tell my own.

For years I’ve been writing, stealing away a few months here or there between projects in order to draft my novels. One of them especially took hold of me — Evertaster — the whimsical story of an 11-year-old boy’s dangerous quest for a legendary taste. When deals with the top publishers unexpectedly fell through, my agent Alyssa Henkin suggested we publish Evertaster on Kindle. So we did, and now it’s available on Amazon in paperback as well.

I cannot tell you what a thrill it was to see Evertaster debut on Amazon for the first time. I must have clicked every link on the product page a hundred times, inspecting each aspect of the display — it was real, and it was my story. It just got better from there! People were actually buying my work. They were actually writing 5-star reviews about my book! They were telling me they liked it, or that they’d read it in two days because they couldn’t put it down.

Suddenly, I felt even closer to Asimov than I had before. In a new way I understood why he did what he did. I understood that he needed to write because there were people waiting to read his work. My book’s journey from imagination to audience was complete.

And now new journey’s are beginning. In a few months, I’ll release CHUM, the story of a teenage boy who seeks fame and fortune on a TV show out at sea and gets mixed up with a bunch of tech-savvy pirates. I’ll also finish off the next two books in the Evertaster series. This is a new era. This is the start of my own stories.

Because all along, I wanted to be a storyteller. I’m a kid at heart. That’s what got me into the film business. When I hear reviews of Evertaster like “One of the most original, well-crafted and imaginative MG stories I’ve come across in a long time.” – (From WordSpelunking Book Review) or when I hear from a reader that her kids are quoting my book, or when I meet a kid at a signing who asks me how I make the characters so real, well, that’s thousands of times better than seeing my name in the credits of any blockbuster movie, no matter how big. In fact, that’s the greatest, most satisfying story of all.

19 thoughts on “To Tell a Story”

  1. Adam, there is no question in my mind that you chose the better path in being the creator of stories. I am sure it will bring forth greater and greater satisfaction and joy as you continue to tread upon it. I would say good luck in your future endeavors as an author but it really isn’t necessary. You are already
    skating along with golden ice skates !!

  2. Congratulations, Adam! I can hear your amazement and joy all the way from here and I’m so happy for you! Cheers!

  3. Wonderful, Adam. Please bear with one rude, reality check question though — Has your self-publishing journey so far paid a decent salary yet? Most of us are starving artists here, many of us getting great reviews too, but can’t pay the bills with self publishing sales. So just wondering how you’re managing to make self-publishing work fiscally?

    1. Thank you! As much we writers like to dream big, I think you hit on a good point: half of writing is a business. I’m definitely a data junkie, so I’m always looking at the numbers and growth rates. While royalties aren’t paying the rent all by themselves yet, Evertaster has been out only two months. It hit the Amazon Bestseller List, which is very encouraging for a first book. So as a business, writing is definitely one that I’m excited about investing in!

  4. What an inspiring post ( and impressive demo reel!) I agree with the other commenters—you made the right choice. Your passion and commitment virtually jump through the screen. I can’t wait to read your book. Congratulations!

  5. What an inspiring story! This man has so much courage to leave a lucrative career for his love of writing. Embarking on an encore career takes guts. I can’t wait to read this book. He inspires me to keep slogging away at my children’s book manuscripts.

  6. Adam,
    Having read some of your earlier work (which I hope you publish someday), and just from knowing you, it’s obvious you are a creative prodigy. Going to download your book today and wishing you the best in your newest career direction. I can’t wait to hear what’s next!

    1. Thanks Em! You were a big help in those early years with encouragement, and patience as you read my early writing. Someday, maybe someday that story will see the light of day as well! Thanks for downloading!

  7. Okay, yours is a much better writer’s journey story than mine, although, in a weird sense, we are connected with the Pirates of the Caribbean movie (see my comment on Author’s Think Tank). I said it was in a weird way . . . 😉

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