By Bill Foley
Montana Tech men’s basketball coach Adam Hiatt put his unexpected free time to good use.
While on a forced break from basketball because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hiatt finished and published his second novel.
“Shadow Game,” a 377-page suspense thriller that Hiatt bills as a “pure-fiction page turner,” is now available on Amazon in print and on Kindle. The book is the second part of a series that began with his 2013 Novel “Stone of Truth.”
Both books feature a character named Reddic Smith, who is, of all things, a basketball player.
“It’s supper clean. There’s no language in it. Well, there is some action violence, I would say,” Hiatt said. “It’s a page-turning book. Each chapter is going to end in a manner in which you’ve got to turn to the next chapter.”
In addition to his career as a professional basketball player, Smith is an undercover operative who exposes a conspiracy that may lead all the way to the Oval Office.
“If you open the book, if you don’t have a lot to do, you can probably blow through it in one day,” Hiatt said.
Hiatt, who just finished his fourth year leading the Oredigger men, said the book has been in the works for more than five years. If it wasn’t for all the time coaching basketball, Hiatt said he could have written the manuscript in a matter of a few months.
“The book was finished. I just had to complete the edits,” the coach said. “So, I polished all off, got the artwork ready. This is as good a time as any to get it out there for people to enjoy.”
Hiatt’s wife, Jenica, designed the cover of the book. Jenica also helped with the editing of the book.
Adam and Jenica Hiatt have five children: two daughters, Addelei and Clara, and three sons, Jaxon, Reddic and Mitchell.
Fans of Hiatt’s writing will recognize the names Jaxon and Reddic as key characters in both his books. The characters have been around longer than the Hiatt boys.
“After a while, my wife was reading the book and she said ‘I kind of like these names,’” Hiatt said. “As time go by, we ended up naming two of our kids Jaxon and Reddic.”
Hiatt said he got into writing when taking a creative writing class in high school.
“It was my favorite class,” he said.
While getting a degree in history and a masters in geography, Hiatt started putting his talents to work.
While working as an assistant at the University of Idaho in 2005 or 2006, he said he took it to the next level. That is when he began working on his first book.
“It’s such a grind, and basketball is all consuming in at the coaching arena,” Hiatt said. “I was looking for a different, more creative outlet.”
Coaching basketball — as a head coach or an assistant — doesn’t allow for much time to write a novel. So, Hiatt would write on his laptop computer and yellow legal pad wherever he could.
A lot of that writing time came as Hiatt was sitting at the airport or taking those long bus rides of the Frontier Conference — like the trip to Lewiston, Idaho to play Lewis-Clark State College.
“It’s more productive than watching a movie,” Hiatt said of writing.
His family and basketball team are still top billing for Hiatt, whose Orediggers are coming off back-to-back winning seasons and their first home tournament appearance in two decades.
Hiatt, who was a head coach at Westminster College in Salt Lake, took over the Oredigger program before the 2016-27 season. After going 7-21 in his first season, the Orediggers got better each season, going 13-17 and 17-15 before finishing the 2019-20 season at 18-12. That included a 10-8 record in the Frontier.
You can now add 377 pages to that record (288 on Kindle).
While finishing off his book, Hiatt was also busy recruiting basketball players to Montana Tech. He locked up Colstrip standout JT Baer late last month, and he said he is getting ready sign another player that he is excited about.
So, Hiatt will not be going out on a book tour anytime soon.
Of course, the coach said he would not do such a thing even if the state wasn’t operating under a stay-at-home order.
“For me, it’s not about making money off this thing,” he said. “It’s just an opportunity to get a fun story out and about. It’s a fun book. It’s fun to write, and hopefully people who pick it up enjoy it.”
Hiatt’s first book was put out by a publishing company out of Arkansas. To go through the same publisher this time would have meant waiting six months or more for publication.
The coach opted to self-publish so he could get the book out during the time in which most the country is on lockdown.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” Hiatt said. “All my players are sending me texts asking ‘What’s this book about?’ I’ve already had people say ‘When’s this coming out in a movie?’ I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, just read the book.’”
Hiatt is optimistic the pandemic lockout will be over sooner than later. He is planning on conducting his June camps as usual.
In the meantime, though, he is already setting his mind to the next adventure of Reddic Smith.
“Now I’m going to work on the plot line for my third book,” Hiatt said. “Who knows how long it will take me to write the next one.”
Click here to order “Shadow Game” on Amazon.
Click here for the Kindle version.