I’ve been interested in Credible Threats ever since I saw the incredible (heh) cover by Luke Tarzian last year. Due to my ever-growing TBR and a mountain of contest books I’ve had to read over the last year, I haven’t had a good opportunity to get into yet. I was delighted when the author agreed to write a guest post for us about the inspiration and influences behind the book and character and now I’m even more excited to read Credible Threats as soon as I can! Without any further preamble, you can find more information about the book and the guest post itself below!
Credible Threats by Daniel Meyer
Series: Sam Adams
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Intended Age Group: YA to Adult
Published: November 15, 2022
Publisher: Self Published
Sam Adams, sixteen-year-old wizard, has zero interest in saving the world—but staying out of the line of fire isn’t an option for wizards.
When a new designer drug hits the streets, giving ordinary humans magical powers and leaving a trail of bodies in its wake, it threatens to turn his city of Williamsport’s long-simmering conflict between the haves and the have-nots into a full-scale war.
The only one with the skills to protect the city, Sam finds himself thrust into a conspiracy far darker and more dangerous than he ever imagined, with tentacles stretching into the criminal underworld and the wealthy elite—and into the spirit world. Fighting for his life, surrounded by enemies, Sam has to dig deeper than ever before to keep Williamsport from going up in flames.
But even magic has its limits.
Sam Adams and How He Came to Be
On November 15 of last year, I published my debut novel, CREDIBLE THREATS, book one of the Sam Adams series. In it, a sixteen-year-old wizard named Sam Adams finds himself forced (quite unwillingly) into heroism, when a new drug called Hex hits the streets of his city of Williamsport, a drug that gives ordinary humans magical powers, causing them to unleash chaos and destruction before dropping dead. Lurking behind it all is a wizard known only as King Death, and his plans are far darker than Sam can imagine. It’s probably not a spoiler to say things only get more complicated and more dangerous from there.
Urban fantasy is one of many fantasy subgenres I want to write in; how can you not? There’s a reason it’s proved so enduringly popular, and that’s because magic and monsters lurking just beneath the surface of our world, for us to encounter when we least expect it, will never cease to be just plain cool. If you like high concept stories, as I do, then urban fantasy is right up your proverbial alley; the whole genre is high concept by definition. (And if you like writing and reading fight scenes, as I also do, urban fantasy opens up countless tantalizing possibilities for action sequences: werewolves brawling in a shopping mall, vampires in a car chase, wizards blasting away at each other on the rooftop of a skyscraper… you get the idea.)
I suppose the genesis of Sam Adams came about when it popped into my head one day that someone should write a story about a wizard in high school. I’d had thoughts along similar lines before; I’ve always enjoyed high school as a setting for a story, and as an aspiring fantasy writer, I’d came up with a few ideas for a high-school themed fantasy series, but this was the first time I ever started taking it seriously. I remember thinking that no one had done a story quite like that before, or if they had, I wasn’t aware of it. And the idea stuck with me.
Even before I’d decided to take the plunge and actually write the book, I knew I wanted my teenage wizard to do all the cool stuff that other, adult urban fantasy heroes, ala Harry Dresden (more on him in a minute) got to do. Being that Sam was a teenager, it seemed young adults would be my primary audience, but that didn’t mean I wanted to tone things down or overly simplify things; that would only have aggravated me at that age and I was certain they would feel the same. So, I let my wicked little imagination run wild, and didn’t bother censoring any of the violence and profanity that popped into my head, to say nothing of my off-kilter sense of humor. As a result, I found myself with a book in a bizarre netherworld of being simultaneously an adult and young adult novel. (This strange status has made it hard to pigeonhole, and one reason why I think self-publishing was a smart decision.) Personally, I’ve long ago stopped trying to categorize it, and consider it simply something with crossover appeal.
When I first started out, I was pretty insecure about my teenage wizard story. I feared it wasn’t an original or interesting enough premise, that it wouldn’t stand out from the pack or people might dismiss it as a knockoff of The Dresden Files. Of course, that quintessential urban fantasy series about a wisecracking wizard prowling the mean streets was the primary influence on the Sam Adams series. And hey, why shouldn’t it be? I love The Dresden Files, and they’re one of my favorite series. It’s one of those stories that felt as though it was written just for me, and something I wish I’d read long before I actually did. I waffled a while on whether or not the book that became Credible Threats was worth pursuing, and what clinched it was Catrick Swayze. Catrick Swayze is Sam’s Familiar, a seven-hundred-year-old talking cat. I realized I simply had to get that obnoxious little furball down on the page, a fact he would find delightful. (If Catrick Swayze sounds a bit like Salem from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, that’s semi-intentional. Upon hearing that Salem wouldn’t talk in Netflix’s Sabrina series, I vowed to have a cat who would.)
I wanted to find ways to stand out. Since Harry Dresden makes such prolific use of throwing fireballs, I decided early on that Sam wouldn’t lean too hard on fire. (That’s not to say he never throws fireballs; that would be completely out of the question.) Instead, I made Sam’s specialty levitation, that is, magically moving objects, and was thrilled at the results. There are all kinds of way a wizard (and an author) can use levitation to accomplish destruction and mayhem and before the series is over, I plan to discover them all. I also wanted a few original creatures and species, rather than just relying on the usual suspects of urban fantasy, your faeries, your werewolves, and the like. You’ll see some purely flesh and blood human villains in the series as well. I particularly enjoy the fanatically anti-magic cult you’ll meet in book three, who were one of my earliest ideas for villains.
Dresden wasn’t my only influence. I wanted to strike a tone akin to Lethal Weapon or Die Hard, something slam-bang and brutal one minute, and funny the next, while being able to take you by surprise with the more heartfelt moments. Something fast-paced and action-packed, with outnumbered and outgunned, perpetually battered and bloody heroes fighting their way through impossible odds. The character of Martin Riggs, in particular, was influential on Sam, with both of them prone to mouthing off and pulling all kinds of wild stunts, both of them doing it to mask their inner turmoil (and, one suspects, just because they like it.) The visceral action sequences of the John Wick franchise were heavily on my mind too, particularly for the book’s climactic battle between Sam and King Death. I was going for a “John Wick with wizards” vibe for those scenes, and I hope it knocks the readers out of their seats.
Another, more off the beaten path influence was the TV series Banshee; more specifically, it’s hero, Lucas Hood. Like Williamsport, the titular town of Banshee is a dangerous place that plays by its own rules, and like Hood, Sam is a loose cannon who finds himself diving into battle whenever danger appears, heedless of the consequences, ready to throw the rulebook out the window to save the day, and coming through it thanks to sheer bloody-minded determination and a little help from his friends.
There’s also a noirish undercurrent, if a little less than I first imagined. Williamsport is a properly corrupt and sordid place, just the right kind of setting for criminal magical conspiracies. There’s a pervasive and sometimes volent gap between rich and poor, with the police department owned by the town’s wealthy elite. The South Side, the home of the have-nots, including Sam, is a place often beset with drugs, gangs, and poverty. And both rich and poor have all sorts of lurid secrets that are going to come to light. The noir inspiration extended to some of the characters: there’s Alexandra Tyler, a local heiress who enlists Sam’s help when the threat hits close to home, one with information that makes things a whole lot more complicated. There’s also Elise, a vampire assassin Sam is forced to ally with, one who’s such an unstoppable death machine that “femme fatale” doesn’t even begin to cover it. Last but not least, there’s Sam himself. Okay, he’s not technically a PI from a detective story, but he often seems to be living the life of one: there are over 97,000 words in Credible Threats, and Sam Adams is sarcastic, beaten-up, and in over his head in every one of them.
The city of Williamsport, itself very much a character in the story, was influenced by Salem, Massachusetts and Sleepy Hollow, New York, as well as Port Charles, the setting of the ABC soap opera General Hospital, itself modeled after Rochester, New York. King Death, the dark wizard who causes so much mayhem, took his name from a phrase I saw in a book on pirates, in context referring to the grim reaper. I loved the title so much I knew I had to use it somewhere. I first imagined him as a serial killer, but then I came up with the idea for magic drugs and ran with it. And of course, Buffy Summers deserves special mention as well, for being one of the original world-saving high schoolers. What she would have made of Sam and his antics, I can’t even begin to imagine.
If you’ve read the book, I hope you enjoyed reading a bit about how it all came together, and if you haven’t, I hope you like the sound of it. And if you pick up a copy, I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. (To be clear, I mean lots of fun.)
I’m currently working on the sequel, RISING SHADOWS, and I can’t wait for you to see how out of control things get in Williamsport next time around. Thanks to Justin for setting this up, and thanks to you, for taking the time to read my ramblings.
About the Author
Daniel Meyer tried his hand at a few careers, but fearing they were too realistic and achievable, he became a fantasy writer instead. Now he spends his days writing stories about magic and explosions. He is a lover of Eighties rock, an occasional kilt-wearer, and a supporter of raccoons. He lives in Missouri, where, as ever, he’s working on his next novel.
Author Website: https://www.danielmeyerauthor.com/
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