In between life as a mum of four boys, Ingrid J. Adams somehow found time to write the book she has always wanted to write. And now, the NSW woman has been thrust into the limelight after publishing the book DESCENDED, a best-seller which tackles the important issues of mental health and spirituality. In between bouts of editing the sequel, Ingrid is fielding offers for book deals for the next three in the series, and is already in discussions for a film version. And she has also assembled a star studded cast for her audiobook! Here, Ingrid tells Lifestyle News about her incredible success. as a first time author.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Descended?
A: My four boys are my muses, and this book is a love letter of sorts to them.
I was always a really anxious kid, one who lay awake at night worrying about really intense stuff, like who I was, and why I was here, and why bad things happened, and what would happen when I died.
Over the years, I came up with answers to these conundrums that (right or wrong), calmed my nerves and helped me sleep at night.
And so I found myself in my early forties, with years of studying and researching and reading and searching and learning and doing under my belt.
I have degrees in Business, Journalism, Kinesiology, and Psychotherapy, and I’ve studied under some of the best healers and mystics around. I’ve essentially spent decades pondering the meaning of life.
I started to notice how many other people suffered the same worries and anxieties as I did as a child. And so the concept for DESCENDED was born.
My intention was to write a book full of romance and adventure and fantasy that my kids (and others) would actually want to read, that also shared and explored some of the things that have helped me find peace.
I guess DESCENDED is my interpretation of the world, an interpretation that that helps me make sense of the universe, to see the point in the seemingly pointless.
When I started planning this book I envisioned the main character would be a young girl, but the universe had other ideas. I have spent the last 14 years of my life creating boys, it turns out that that is where my strengths lay.
As I began to write, it turned out my female main character, Cordelia, had a co-star by the name of Indigo, a young man who was as put together on the outside as he was broken on the inside.
A young man who shows incredible strength through showing his vulnerability, his pain, his weaknesses. A young man who embarks on an extraordinary journey of discovery, who with the help of the remarkable people who come into his life is able to find his place in the world, demystify the universe, and figure out why he’s here.
I wrote Indigo, as someone for my boys to aspire to. He is everything I want my sons to be – strong yet sensitive, caring and brave, respectful and loving of the people in his life.
He is someone who is young and flawed and imperfect and who does make mistakes and who does fall apart because people do. It's what we do when we’re broken, how we rebuild ourselves, that counts.
DESCENDED seems to be appealing to a wide range of ages. Younger readers are enjoying it because it deals with teenage angst and the perils of coming of age, whilst older readers are loving the nostalgia component of it being set in the 90s.
I’ve had parents come to me and say that this is the first book that both they and their teen have read and absolutely loved, and that’s been a bonding experience for them in many ways.
Q: There are already talks of a sequel, two more books and a film which is incredible! Were you surprised by the book's success?
A: Thank you! This is an incredibly difficult industry to crack into, and I think as authors, we merely hope that our words will resonate with someone —anyone…!— out there.
These days, considering how easy it is for writers to self publish their works, there are about two million new books published every year, so the marketplace is incredibly saturated. This means it’s that much harder to get noticed.
When we published DESCENDED, of course I quietly hoped what I had to say would speak to people, but I was so surprised (and so grateful), when my first print run sold out in the first 24 hours. The success that’s followed has been very surreal.
It took me five years to write this book — not only is that five years of my life, but the innumerable hours I’ve spent writing it, well, that’s time spent away from my kids.
All those weekend afternoons I spent holed up in my study writing, all those evenings I lay beside them in their beds tapping away on my laptop.
I think in the back of my mind, if this book never got published, or if it was an epic failure, it would have hurt all the more, because I would have wasted that precious time I could have spent with my babies instead.
Back before we went to print, my publisher asked me what success looked like to me (looking back, maybe he was managing my expectations!).
I remember telling him that to me, success was receiving a message from someone saying my book made some small difference to them, that they connected with it.
It was having my work effect someone’s life in some little way — to have them relate to a character, or have them read my book and feel something, to maybe bring a bit of joy or emotion into their world.
My biggest wish was for my writing to help someone find a little rhyme or reason to life, to make them feel a little less alone, a little less hopeless, and to shine a bit of light through the darkness.
Fast forward six months, I’ve received those messages — a hundred times over. So considering what I set out to achieve, I’ve done that, and everything else is just gravy.
Q: You raise the very important topics of mental health and spirituality in the book. Do you think these should be discussed more openly in society in general?
A: Definitely. I think as much as we as a society have tried to open up a dialogue about mental health in order to normalise it, there’s still a stigma.
People are still much more likely to share their struggles regarding their physical health than their mental health.
In Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death for males aged 18 to 44. Of the eight people who attempt to take their own life each day, six of those are men. As a mum of four boys, these statistics terrify me.
I think men still struggle to open up and share when they struggle. I know as a woman, if I’m having a tough time I’ll ring a girlfriend or my mum and get it all out.
But men just don’t seem to do that the same way we do. They still stiffen up that upper lip and try to be brave and strong, because of some deeply ingrained belief that still persists, that to struggle is a sign of weakness.
There are teenage boys out there who are struggling to get their heads above water but believe talking about their feelings, asking for help, crying, are all signs of weakness.
We are quite literally raising a generation of young people who would rather die than admit they need help.
Something’s got to give. How do we raise strong healthy children who are comfortable in their own skin?
How do we make the world, the universe, a much less scary place, and death, life and their place in it a much less terrifying thing?
How do we make our children understand how vital talking to us — to anyone — is, how important it is to scream and cry and express their feelings?
Even the other day, after I was interviewed and I vaguely mentioned that my husband had struggled with his mental health (with his full permission to do so), we actually received a bit of backlash from certain people, saying that now I’d revealed this about him, it would hurt his career, and that no one would want to work with him ever again.
This of course, is absolute rubbish, and the people saying that ironically missed the entire point of the interview, but this is what we’re dealing with out there. If went out and publicly said he’d battled cancer, would anyone dare say that would affect his career?
Of course not. So why is something like depression, which, like cancer, is a deadly illness, treated so differently, just because it’s a mental illness?
Regarding the spiritual messaging within DESCENDED, I can’t tell you how many people have gotten in touch with me to let me know how much comfort it’s brought them.
Particularly those who are grieving for a lost loved one, they’ve said how much the way I’ve dealt with death and reincarnation in DESCENDED has helped them come to terms with their loss.
They really love the beauty of the notion that death isn’t final, that they will see their loved one again.
At its very heart, DESCENDED is a romance. It’s a love story exploring esoteric concepts such as fate versus free will, life after death, and soul mates.
I think the concept of a soul mate, someone we return to life after life, is really appealing to readers, because what’s more romantic than knowing there’s one person out there you’re destined for, who you were born to find, over and over again?
And a soul mate doesn’t only have to be a romantic connection, I believe we have soul mates who are friends, siblings, family members etc too, our soul family.
I think at the end of the day, believing in something bigger than us brings us comfort and gives us hope and faith. It makes us accountable, and it gives our lives rhyme and reason. So yes, spirituality should be something we discuss more openly
Q: You got prominent celebrities including Nathan Harvey, Melissa Tkautz and Trevor Hendy to perform your audio book - was that an amazing experience?
A: I can’t tell you how amazing an experience it’s been! I grew up in the 90s listening to Top 40 Countdowns and devouring Dolly and Cleo magazines, and I can tell you now, you didn’t grow up in Australia in the 90s without seeing Nathan, Melissa and Trevor everywhere!
These guys were my idols, and it’s definitely been a pinch me moment, having them so graciously agree to help out with the audiobook of DESCENDED in order to help raise awareness of mental health.
They are three incredibly amazing humans with very big hearts. It’s very surreal to meet someone who lived on your bedroom wall when you were a teenager!
We’re working in conjunction with Gotcha 4 Life, with all proceeds of the audiobook going to them to help engage, educate, and empower local communities on the topic of mental health.
Q: The book is very popular on BookTok; do you think this platform has helped lure young people back into good, old-fashioned reading?
A: BookTok is the second highest trending hashtag on TikTok (after GymTok), which I think is fabulous — it’s essentially made reading cool again.
Platforms like BookTok and Bookstagram allow readers to connect with other bibliophiles in order to share book recommendations and discuss literature.
Booktokers have a huge influence on trends and on readers, and have essentially triggered a resurgence in reading amongst younger generations in particular.
BookTok and Bookstagram are very tight knit sub communities on TikTok and Instagram.
They provide a safe place for readers to connect, they are incredibly welcoming and supportive, and they protect their own.
There was recently an incident where a new author did the unthinkable and began attacking reviewers who received her book negatively.
She went online and began responding to negative reviews, essentially suggesting those who didn’t like her book weren’t intelligent enough to get it.
In response to this, the BookTok community banded together to protect the members of its community – the reviewers — who had been attacked, informing everyone what this author was doing and that her actions weren’t in line with the spirit of the bibliophile tribe.
This author was cancelled overnight, her debut dead in the water, and that was the end of her career.
And that is the power of BookTok.
Q: Please tell us more about DESCENDED?
A: It's an imaginative tour-de-force debut about the big and small decisions we make every day and the ripple effect they have on the rest of time – even if they were celestially pre-determined.
Set on the Northern Beaches of Sydney in the early 90s, this enthralling tale follows Indigo Wolfe, the mysterious high school heartthrob that everybody wants to be or be with, as he descends to the depths of darkness.
Indigo is barely holding on by a thread. Because he isn't what he seems. He has secrets – secrets that consume him: pain, emptiness, a relentless din of voices shouting their sins at him, mocking his very existence. Why is he cursed by abilities others are not?
When he meets the ethereal Cordelia Carlisle, he's hit with a sense of recognition that traverses lifetimes. As they grow closer he lets her see the parts of him he keeps hidden. The only thing he can't show her is that she's everything to him.
When they're torn apart, Indigo has to find it within the depths of his soul – and his powers – to choose whether to give up, or to fight: for himself, for answers, and for Cordelia, the girl he seems destined to love and to lose over and over, life after life... Unless this time, he can get it right.
DESCENDED gently delves into the intricacies of love, depression, suicide, death, and substance abuse, all of which are big issues for today’s youth.
This story is all about opening up conversations about such taboo topics as mental health and spirituality, and will leave readers to ponder the big questions, such as what is life, why are we here, and… is there an afterlife?"