Friday, May 17, 2019

Lit in the Mitten: an Interview with Adam Gac

A few months ago, I visited the Delta College Q-90.1 FM studio to be interviewed by Adam Gac for the Lit in the Mitten podcast. I enjoyed our conversation so much, we're continuing it here on our SCBWI-MI blog. Read on to learn more about Adam, his writing and VCFA/MFA experience, children's literature, and his hopes for the Lit in the Mitten episodes.

Tell us about your Lit in the Mitten radio series at Delta College Q-90.1 FM. How did it start, how long will it continue, and how can we tune in?

My wife and I moved to Bay City after she finished her Master’s degree at University of Michigan and was subsequently hired for her dream job as the Director of Education for BaySail – an organization that teaches history, science and sustainability on the Appledore Tallships. I was fortunate enough to follow my excitement for news to a position as a producer at Q90.1. Lit in the Mitten is my contribution to Q90.1’s selection of Michigan-focused art programs. My colleagues have a variety of shows following their passions, including highlighting local musicians and theater.

Episodes are released bi-weekly on Mondays with on-air clips and full interviews available at I hope to continue the program for the next few years. I’d love to offer Michigan authors the opportunity to talk craft and their latest projects until people get tired of me. One of our local hosts, Rod Bieber, has been producing shows with the station for 25 years and he’s still going strong, so the sky’s the limit.

I was honored that you read my entire novel to prepare for our interview. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation about children's and young adult literature and was impressed with your thoughtful questions. You're currently working toward your MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at VCFA. Tell us more about your studies and your own writing.

First and foremost I want to give a shout out to Amy Rose Capetta, Cori McCarthy and Tirzah Price. I met the three of them while I was a reporter in Big Rapids and I wouldn’t be at VCFA if it wasn’t for their guidance and support. Second and middlemost, reading your novel was an absolute pleasure!

The low-residency MFA program at VCFA is well-suited for cultivating the knowledge and discipline necessary for sustainable writing. Twice a year I get to surround myself with people who share my passion for writing for children and young adults. It’s basically like going to Hogwarts. The residencies are filled with great workshops, lectures and so many amazing conversations. In between residencies students work one-on-one with advisors with a TON of experience. I’ve worked on projects from picture book biographies and short stories to full-length novels.

My primary focus is on YA and Middle Grade science fiction and horror, but one of the great parts of the program is advisors who encourage you to work outside of your comfort zone. Challenging yourself with other genres and styles as well as with critical writing can be surprising. There’s a very specific kind of delight that bubbles up when you realize that you’ve increased the size of your comfort zone writing by venturing outside of it.

You've been reading a lot of books for all ages for your MFA program. Are any patterns jumping out at you? What aspects of a story grab your attention at the beginning and keep you engaged throughout?

One pattern that really excites me in the kidlitsphere is the growing demand for graphic novels and traditional novels with other forms of media mixed in. Comic books were a big part of growing up for me and it’s super exciting to see the industry embracing the opportunities that blending words and pictures has to offer.

Another exciting trend is the growing demand for books with diverse characters written by diverse authors. One of the most powerful aspects of kid lit is the opportunity for young people (and grownups for that matter) to grow through the reading process. The more readers can see themselves represented honestly in a story, the more impactful it will be.

Because I come from a journalism background I put a lot of value in truth in storytelling. I’ve read hundreds of books in my journey through VCFA and the unifying factor in the works I’ve really loved is their honesty. When an author is trying to capitalize on an industry trend or use their story to force a reader to a specific conclusion the work is so much less fulfilling than a story that comes from the reality of the writer’s own experience.

During our interview, you asked me about quality literature. I've been thinking more about this, and it's helpful when considering my own writing and what I'm hoping to accomplish. May I direct the question back to you? How do you define quality literature?

Quality literature, to me, is any writing that enriches the life of the reader. The aspect of quality literature that excites me most is its ability to enrich the life of the author through the writing process. Getting at the hard truths of your own existence is the only way to authentically express that process in your characters and their stories.

Anything else you'd like us to know?

Adam interviewing author Nick Adkins
Anyone interested in appearing on Lit in the Mitten can reach out to me at I’d also like to encourage people to support their local independent bookstores. I spent some time working for the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and they are doing tremendous work helping employees of brick-and-mortar bookstores through all sorts of emergencies. Booksellers don’t get into bookselling because they love working in retail, they get into it because they know how important it is to have a strong literary community.

Thanks so much for your time, Adam! To listen to Adam's interviews, go to the Lit in the Mitten podcast here. And stay tuned, he'll continue to add new interviews each month.

Coming up on the SCBWI-MI blog: 

Tips for Painless Self-Promotion (from Debbie Gonzales who is celebrating her Girls with Guts book birthday this week!), a recap and photos from the SCBWI Marvelous Midwest conference, Ask the Editor, and much more.

Have a great weekend!
Kristin Lenz


  1. Fantastic interview! Thank you Kristin and Adam. I really appreciate Adam's knowledge and enthusiasm for kids lit!

  2. How nice to turn the tables on Adam! Love his dedication to MI children's book creators. Thanks for helping us learn more about him.