Today I am so pleased to welcome Jeff Adams to Joyfully Jay. Jeff has come to talk to us about his Codename: Winger series. He has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Jeff a big welcome!
Jeff has brought some questions and answers to share with us about the series!
How’d you come up with the concept of the “Codename: Winger” series?
The origins of the series go back to 2015. I’d recently completed a young adult/new adult trilogy and I needed to figure out what I wanted to do next. The basic premise of Codename: Winger was conceived at GayRomLit in Chicago that fall. Someone in that hotel had a ringtone from the Disney show Kim Possible—the sound Kim’s communicator made. I loved that show and hearing the tone got me to thinking about a teen who saves the world. Hanging out in the lounge area with my husband Will and authors Z.A. Maxfield and Clare London, more of this came into focus.
I wrote the character sketch for Theo and the prologue for Tracker Hacker on the plane trip home. What’s in the finished book is very close to the draft written in flight. Since I love hockey and usually worked players into my stories, of course Theo had to be a hockey player too.
Why a teen spy?
That tracks back primarily to Kim Possible. Every episode she’s battling bad guys and it was a great juxtaposition for her to be out fighting crime but also dealing with the realities of being a high school student. For Kim, there was no secret identity though. That was another great aspect to the story because she didn’t catch any breaks in terms of school work or other responsibilities because she often saved everyone from one diabolical scheme after another. Theo, however, has to constantly keep up a façade because he can’t let people know what he does because of the danger it could put them in
Beyond Kim Possible, there are a variety of other influences. I love the show Alias with Jennifer Garner and how that portrayed the life of a spy who also tried to have a normal life. Applying those concepts to a teenager was a lot of fun.
How important are the family dynamics in this sort of family business spy story?
Theo’s parents are a huge part of this story. Right in the prologue, he tells how he got into the family business—he hacked his parents phones to figure out why they were gone all the time, which was very different than any of his friends. In short order, he found out they were working for a covert agency and that they guy who was always home “watching” him wasn’t really his uncle, but part of the organization too.
It presents an interesting dynamic time and again in the story. Theo’s mom and dad want him to be a regular teenager, but they also understand his extraordinary talents with computers. For years, he was safe sitting behind a keyboard in his room. But, as Tracker Hacker opens, a problem unfolds sending him into the field for the first time because his skills are the best chance to solve the situation.
Now he’s working with his parents and it shifts everything because they want to keep him out of harm, but they also need him to do a job. Theo has to manage his feelings too because he can’t necessarily ask mom and dad for help—or sometimes even hug when things get stressful—he has to persevere. He is a super smart, capable 16 year old and while he can handle it a lot… sometimes he is a 16 year old who wants/needs his parents to tell him it’ll be okay.
It’s one of my favorite dynamics in the series because in each book we get something a bit different. In Tracker Hacker, Theo primarily works with his mom. In Schooled I switch it up and he’s with dad. Then in Audio Assault it becomes a full family mission. Then in Netminder, everything falls apart and Theo is cutoff from his support system for a large part of the book. Writing his, and his parents growth, through the four books was a lot of fun.
How does each story/case link into the next?
The series plays of the course of roughly a year with Tracker Hacker starting in the fall of Theo’s junior year. The bonus Christmas story that’s in Tracker Hacker comes just a couple of month’s later and then Schooled is shortly after the holiday break. Audio Assault takes place over summer vacation. Netminder brings back to the beginning of the school year as Theo is set to start his senior high school year.
Everything in the series connects, though not necessarily immediately from one book to the next. I had a great time mapping out the missions and knowing how they would interconnect across the series. I love it when a reader says “I can’t believe X happened” and then they think about it and can see the threads that lead up to that.
For someone new to this series, what do you feel is at the heart of this story?
Family, friends, team. There are all so important. Theo is smart enough to do anything required in the missions he’s faced with—although he’s not perfect. He makes mistakes, and that’s important because it’s not interesting if he’s not fallible. But it’s also where the family, friends and team come into play. They keep Theo grounded, they gave him that sense of safety and they’re also there to support through it all. Even when he can’t communicate with them, he knows deep down they’re there and trying to help him. I can’t imagine what he’d be like without knowing he has that support system in place.
What’s it been like revisiting these books for the re-release?
Codename: Winger was originally released between 2017 and 2019. As I prepared to re-release, the stories weren’t changed outside of a light edit. I did take the opportunity to take A Very Winger Christmas and add it as a bonus story within Tracker Hacker. That ensures it’s read within the timeline correctly. The most exciting part with this release is bringing the series to audio with the amazing Kirt Graves narrating. I’ve been a huge fan of Kirt’s since the first time I heard him with TJ Klune’s Wolfsong. I’m thrilled I got to work with him for the audio. His performance is perfect and I loved listening to him read the story. Anyone who loves to listen to audiobooks is in for a treat.
Jeff Adams has written stories since he was in middle school and became a published author in 2009 when his first short stories were published. He writes both gay romance and LGBTQ young adult fiction…and there’s usually a hockey player at the center of the story.
Jeff lives in northern California with his husband of more than twenty years, Will Knauss. Some of his favorite things include the musicals “Rent” and “[title of show],” the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition “So You Think You Can Dance.” He also loves to read, but there isn’t enough space to list out his favorite books.
Jeff is the co-host of the “Big Gay Fiction Podcast,” a weekly show devoted to gay romance as well as pop culture. New episodes come out every Monday at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.
You can find out more about Jeff’s books at JeffAdamsWrites.com
Connect with Jeff:
- Website: http://JeffAdamsWrites.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writerjeffadams/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterJeffAdams
- Jeff (& Will’s) PodCast’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/biggayfiction/
To celebrate Jeff’s Codename: Winger Series re-release and brand new audiobooks, Jeff is giving away:
- A Signed Paperback Set of Codename: Winger Series (US & Canada Only)
- 1 of 2 Audio Codes for Book 1 Tracker Hacker (International Winner)
- A Personal Signed e-set of Codename: Winger Series (International Winner)
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Welcome, Jeff, and thanks for sharing some of the backstory of the Codename: Winger series. Best wishes as you re-release the series!
I’m really enjoying the Codename: Winger series! Great reads!