Local Author Spotlight: Adam Kargman

Catherine Royalty, Principal Librarian, Collections,
photo of author Adam Kargman

Adam Kargman is an attorney who lives in Los Angeles. In addition to writing Nagle’s Mercy, he has written and directed several films and is in the process of publishing a children’s picture book titled Abracadabra Whoopsie.

About Nagle's Mercy

A college valedictorian finds himself the target of a mysterious blackmailer who forces him to commit a series of increasingly serious and bizarre crimes. Hailed by Kirkus as a “thoroughly enjoyable” “edge-of-your-seat read” with “nonstop action and palpable psychological tension,” Nagle’s Mercy takes the reader on a wild ride of escalating crimes and through an internal battle between ambition and integrity.

Nagle’s Mercy was designated a SELF-e Select title by the staff of Library Journal and is now available at participating libraries nationwide. The Los Angeles Public Library congratulates Adam on his award—let’s hear a bit more about him and his winning title!

Interview with Adam Kargman

Nagle's Mercy book cover and graphic of award winning blue and red ribbon for library journal self-e selection

You have written some great, suspenseful sequences in Nagle’s Mercy that almost have a cinematic quality.  Have you ever considered trying your hand at screenwriting?

I have a background in film and have written several screenplays, including an adaptation of Nagle’s Mercy that I hope will be produced someday. I think visually, and when I write, I try to imagine what you would see and hear in a movie.

You really keep the reader guessing and deliver several satisfying plot twists.  Did you have the entire narrative mapped out before you started writing, or did some of the surprises develop as you went along?

A little of both. I worked from an outline and had the major plot points mapped out in advance. But the manuscript went through several extensive revisions and I came up with new twists as the story evolved.

If we read Nagle’s Mercy and love it, who should we read next?  Who are some authors that inspire you?

I think Nagle’s Mercy is unique in terms of its tone, characters, pace, and Southwestern setting, but readers may also want to check out the classics Strangers on a Train, by Patricia Highsmith, and The Executioners, by John D. MacDonald.  In terms of inspirations, I’ll have to politely demur, as I think that can lead to some unfair comparisons – and it spoils the fun of hearing from readers which authors I remind them of.

adam kargman quote

Do you have any advice for first time authors attempting to finish their first novel?  Do you have a daily writing routine?

My advice, first and foremost, is to write a story that you are truly passionate about it. For me, the idea behind Nagle’s Mercy  – how far someone could be coerced and blackmailed, and whether an ordinary person could be pushed to the point of committing murder – was compelling. The story is set in Tucson and specifically around the University of Arizona, an environment I was familiar with and knew I would enjoy writing about. I also love suspense-thrillers, and wanted to write the ultimate edge-of-your-seat page turner.

Second, I would recommend taking a good acting class. There’s a long list of actors who are also great novelists, screenwriters, and short story writers. I credit acting classes with helping me write believable characters and dialogue.

With regards to my routine, when I’m working on something, I like to spend at least half a day writing and to write consistently until I finish a draft. When I was writing the first draft of Nagle’s Mercy, I was lucky enough to have three months to devote to it entirely. I would wake up in the morning, go for a swim, and then write for 12 to 14 hours straight. I’m not someone who can be productive writing just one or two hours a day, but everyone is different.

When writing Nagle’s Mercy, did you complete multiple drafts?  Did you show unfinished versions to friends or beta readers for feedback?

I completed many, many drafts over a number of years. It was endless. It felt like Nagle’s MERCILESS.  In some parallel universe, I’m still writing Nagle’s Mercy.

After finishing the second draft, I began sharing the manuscript with friends, particularly those who were fans of the genre. Their feedback helped immensely. Getting feedback prior to publication is important. You don’t want to send an untested product into the market.

The self-publishing industry has really exploded, especially in e-books.  What advantages and/or challenges do you see in self-publishing your work?

The advantage of self-publishing is that you can actually get published. It’s very difficult for a first-time author to get the attention of a traditional publisher or reputable agent. The downside is that self-publishing can be expensive and marketing is all on the author’s shoulders. The quality of physical self-published books typically does not match what would come out of, say, Simon & Schuster, particularly if a book is print-on-demand, and many retailers are unwilling to stock self-published titles. That said, I was successful in getting Nagle’s Mercy into some independent bookstores and libraries, and most books are sold online now, so a retail presence may not be as important. My next book, a children’s picture book, is being published by a hybrid publisher, which is a middle ground between traditional and self-publishing.  So that’s an option too.

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