A Q&A With Cavis Adams, Author of "Granddaddy"

Cavis Adams (MANA) welcomes Cavis Adams to the MANA Family. A Minneapolis firefighter and medical interpreter, Adams has released his first book titled, Granddaddy


The story details the dashed hopes of a young African American couple from the South who move to Minneapolis, and their son, who experiences a “spiritual rebirth” after visiting his grandfather in Birmingham, Alabama. His grandfather is granted a lifetime of memories after fearing he would forever be a mere memory himself. 

MANA: Briefly describe to readers what Granddaddy is all about. 
Cavis Adams (CA):  Granddaddy is a story about a young “Negro” couple who leaves the South during racial unrest and hostility (during the onset or blooming of the Civil Rights era). 

The couple goes North, like so many blacks of that era, in hopes of escaping the hardship and hostility and to search for a better quality of life in the form of job opportunities. The couple becomes disillusioned after discovering that the North has its own branding of hardship, and life in the city is affecting them and their Northern-born son in negative ways. 

The decision is made to send the child back down South to spend part of the summer with his grandfather, a sharecropper, very humble and dated in material progress, but without limit in life and lesson. The child has a real “spiritual rebirth” here in this enriching bosom of nature and fundamental values.  
Even as the child has grown from this experience; for both parent and child alike there are lessons to be learned. Problems do surface, but the deepest solutions can be rediscovered through traditional roots. Above all this, there is the miracle of Granddaddy himself, who is granted a lifetime of memories with his grandson, even after fearing he would forever be a mere memory himself. The moral of the story could be said of looking to traditional values and morals as a source of deep-rooted solutions to the increasing superficial problems that come with modernity.    

MANA: What was your inspiration for the book? 
CA: My initial inspiration was distant memories of visiting my own grandfather in the south during summer family reunions. Though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I was fascinated by the juxtaposition between the relatively modern city life in the north that I had know and the simply humble life of the rural South. 

What grasped me beyond that was the healthily contagious attitude that possessed the poor Southerners to peace beyond comprehension. While writing the story though, I myself felt possessed by layers of oncoming motivations throughout that process of discovery, uncovering more than feelings and beliefs about life and memories that became more expressed than created through writing.  

MANA: How did you create your characters? Do you base them on personal experiences, other people or situations or stories you’ve been told? 
CA: The characters were based on actual people. But while putting them onto a two- dimensional screen, I realized that the challenge was to allow them to be more than what I had always perceived of them or been led to believe. 

My father was more than faulty, and my mother less than perfect. This goes for all “characters” in real life. I think that was part of the superficiality that the child in the story faced, not appreciating the depth of people, things and nature. So part of the discovery of the writing process was that of allowing all characters (especially myself), to express honestly, for better and for worse. 

MANA: What do you want readers to take away from Granddaddy? 
CA: I honestly want the readers to take away what they will. I believe that the messages and language are powerfully inspiring when given attention – even the few tragic scenes are inspiring in the whole “resolution in the wake of tragedy” kind of way. The last thing I would want to do is try to direct someone’s otherwise uniquely valid response. I think that the messages that are more or less obvious speak for themselves. 

Beyond that, readers, as part of the story, have their own license to write their own special meaning between the lines. That being said, I hope that there are many readers. The more the merrier, and not necessarily the more money the merrier, since the primary joy for me is sharing of myself and what has gone into the writing. I get a thrill every time I think that someone is reading my book, our book, and the more the merrier it makes me feel. No, it’s beyond feeling, it’s a level of real satisfaction. 

MANA: You are a firefighter. When do you find time to write? 
CA: Yes, I am a firefighter, medical interpreter and father. I find time to write whenever I find myself with downtime. It isn’t an easy thing to do, especially when rest has to be included in that list of high priorities. Sometimes I write at the station between calls and other duties, but it’s not always the same since the creative process is often disturbed and punctuated by those 911 moments of others.  

But I find, pleasantly, that as writing orbits itself to the fore of my vision, somehow space for writing, even beginning with creative thought, seems to be created in my life. I mainly try to write at home, next to the window where I can take frequent glances away. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a coffee shop or library, usually when I’m in a “higher-energy” mind for writing and not feeling particularly reclusive. When I just have to write, I write at the station between calls and other duties. 

MANA: Who are your writing influences (writers, books, movies, teachers, family, and friends)?
CA: At one time mostly all writers were my influence, as I was transitioning into that world of literary expression and it was still arriving to my mind this whole thing of creating feelings and lasting thoughts and impressions on the mind and soul as it were through characters arranged on pages in certain ways. I still recall impressions without the writers’ names, plots and inspiring resolutions without the book titles. At some point I became more cognizant.

 I have to say one of the most impressionable novels for me was Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, which kind of set me free from the grounding anchor that ties one to the need to fully instruct and elaborate in writing (something that I am continually freeing myself from). Sometimes, the action has to simply sail free with less word-ship, saving the most up-close and detailed for the appropriate close-ups. 

Beyond this, all of life is an influence, and I mean that in more than the flat clich√© kind of way. I think that kind of clich√© has its beginning in truth that is unchanging regardless of one’s circumstances. So, I always find that it’s always true that we write our lives in many ways and then our individual stories are inextricably combined with those of others. When it comes to literature, the task is simply how to express with this medium. 

MANA: Is this your first time being published? 
CA: Yes. 

MANA: What’s your advice to new writers? 
CA: DO NOT PROCRASTINATE. Sometimes to build the esteem, creativity and motivation to write you have to start writing. It seems like going to the gym to me. At times, I don’t feel like going but once I manage to get in the gym and I’m lifting those weights… now that’s when I feel great and glad that I went. Sitting down to write can be this way at times…. so just get there.  Of course, as you write over time, you will invariably grow as you live and write. That’s just life. But to make it a writer’s life, one must write. 
I am working on another project. I have enough material to actually package another product now of a short story and flash fiction compilation. I plan to either follow up Granddaddy with this compilation or with another novel/novella with a certain other theme in mind. Both might be meeting just about the right time frame to do so, provided I’m able to write at the pace that I plan to write. 

I am personally excited about the short story compilations and flash fiction, a couple of them in particular, since they are different than Granddaddy in the sense that much of them are more action-oriented and something like “meta-fiction,” exploring characters like angels, time alteration, evil media and such things. 

To preview the book, Granddaddy, by Cavis Adams, visit the book's webpage on MANA's website:

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