Friday, May 11, 2012

Feature Friday: Dan Wells and Giveaway of The Hollow City

Oh, I have such a treat for you!  Today, we've got the one and only Mister Dan Wells as our Feature Author!  Dan is the author of the YA John Cleaver series and the YA Partials series.  Today he's going to talk about writing, having a family, and generally being awesome. :)

BIO:
Short: Dan was born at a young age, killed a man in Reno just to watch him die, and ate the last mango in Paris. Then he wrote several books.

Longer:
Dan Wells is a horror fiction writer. Born in Utah, he spent his early years reading and writing. He is he author of the Partials series (Partials, with more book coming soon) and John Cleaver series (I Am Not a Serial Killer, Mr. Monster, and I Don't Want To Kill You). He has been nominated for both the Hugo and the Campbell Award, and has won two Parsec Awards for his podcast Writing Excuses. His newest novel, The Hollow City, will be released in July.

There's an even longer, more detailed version on his website!

Interview:
A.L.:
So, your favorite book is The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo.  I have to ask, who is your favorite character and why?

Dan:
That's definitely one of my favorites, but I'd have a hard time choosing a favorite character from it. It would definitely come down to a neck and neck race between the hunchback himself and the priest that raises him; the priest because he's so completely twisted, one of literature's greatest tortured villains, and Quasimodo because he's unfailing good in a world that has no room for goodness. I like some pretty dark stuff, obviously.

A.L.:
Are there any works or characters in particular that you feel have really influenced you as a writer.

Dan:
One of my greatest influences is A. A. Milne, not so much for his Winnie the Pooh stories but for his Christopher Robin poems. I've worn out two different copies of that book from reading it so much. Reading those poems as a kid I realized that he wasn't just writing, he was playing with words--he was having so much fun. I knew then that that's what I wanted to do with my life.

A.L.:
Your parents started you out young as a science fiction/fantasy lover.  You’ve got five kids, are you doing the same with them?  

Dan:
I'm doing my best. We've read The Hobbit, the Prydain chronicles, and now I'm starting them on The Hero and the Crown. And of course they're all Star Wars AND Start Trek geeks.

A.L.:
What would you suggest a parent read to their children to get them to love books?

Dan:
No single book will be as valuable as a wide variety. In my experience, the 'reluctant readers' of the world tend to be those who just haven't found the genre or the style that they respond to yet, so read your kids fantasy, SF, horror (of an appropriate level, of course), westerns, poetry, non-fiction, mythology, fairy tales, 'mainstream' fiction, and everything else. Something will catch.

A.L.:
Has there ever been a point either in writing the John Cleaver novels or the Partials when you had difficulty channeling a particular character?

Dan:
I had a lot of trouble getting Kira right, the main character of Partials, because I was trying to write her as a girl. What I realized is that I don't try to write my boys as boys, I just write them as people--I needed to do the same thing with Kira. She's not defined by her gender, it's just one facet of her complete personality. Once I did that, she became one of my favorite characters to write.

A.L.:
You write about a young man who is a serial killer…Do your friends and family look at you funny?

Dan:
It's much creepier to people who know me than people who don't. The books themselves aren't horribly disturbing, unless the guy who wrote them has a key to your house.

A.L.:
What do you want for your birthday?

Dan:
A reunion concert of Halfcocked.

A.L.:
On a personal note: I give you major kudos for having five kids.  On a humorous note:  You love science fiction and fantasy.  If you could pick any two names (boy and girl) to name your children, what would you name them?  Why?

Dan:
I've been campaigning for Tiberius as a boy's middle name since the beginning, but my wife won't go for it. I almost got a kid named after Benjamin Sisko, but then when he was born he looked more like an Ethan. And I'd love to name a girl Eilonwy, if I didn't think she'd waste ten years of her life telling people who to spell and pronounce it.

A.L.:
I first learned about the John Cleaver novels from a friend who pitched them to me as a “teenaged Dexter.”  How do you feel about this comparison?

Dan:
I don't mind it at all, and I usually even take it a step further: John Cleaver is like a teenaged Dexter in an X-Files episode.

A.L.:
John’s a male pro-tag while Kira is a female.  Did you find it difficult to write from a different gender standpoint?  Especially, with the underlying implications for unborn children in Partials?

Dan:
I talked earlier about writing a female character. The added implication of the Hope Act, with its mandated pregnancy and staggering infant death rate, added a strong sense of urgency to the character, but I don't know if I added anything intrinsically female on that topic. I have five kids, as mentioned, plus my wife and I have had four miscarriages, including one very dangerous one that landed my wife in the emergency room, so I'm extremely familiar with pregnancy and childbirth, and I feel like I was able to put a lot of that into the book, but I guarantee that if the same book were written by a woman it would be vastly different.

A.L.:
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Dan:
You can make a living as an artist, it just takes a lot of work. Spend as much time and energy on your writing as a doctor spends on pre-med schooling and internships--often ten or fifteen years--and I can almost guarantee you'll be as or more successful than that doctor.

A.L.:
After Partials, where would you like to turn your attention?

Dan:
I'm about halfway done with another SF book about cloning, and I want to finish that by the end of this year. Then it's time for Partials 3, and then I hope to write more John Cleaver books.

A.L.:
So, Mr. Voracious Gamer, if you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one game, what game would it be?

Dan:
That depends on who's there with me. If I'm alone I'd need a good solitaire game, of which I don't have many; I'd probably choose a card game like Magic: The Gathering, because I could spend ages building and refining new decks. If I had a group I'd go for one of the big, long, super-time-commitment games I don't get a lot of chance to play, because if we're on a desert island we won't have anything to interrupt us. Something like Game of Thrones or Battlestar Galactica. If I had to choose one it might be--and this is a weird one to pick, but there you go--Memoir 44, simply because it works well 1-on-1 and with big groups, and it's almost endlessly variable and re-playable.

A.L.:
Likewise, if Earth were putting together a capsule that must survive the apocalypse and you could only pick one of your own pieces to be saved from oblivion, which would you chose for future generations?

Dan:
If I had to choose one of my own books, I'd cheat and assume the existence of an omnibus edition of the John Cleaver trilogy--which would still be shorter than any given epic fantasy novel.

Find Dan Wells:

The Giveaway: 
While Dan is known for his excellent work in YA, his newest novel, The Hollow City, is going to be for adults.  Dan was nice enough to send me an advanced reading copy and some happy fun-time swag!

The Hollow City: Dan Wells won instant acclaim for his three-novel debut about the adventures of John Wayne Cleaver, a heroic young man who is a potential serial killer. All who read the trilogy were struck by the distinctive and believable voice Wells created for John.

Now he returns with another innovative thriller told in a very different, equally unique voice. A voice that comes to us from the  realm of madness.

Michael Shipman is paranoid schizophrenic; he suffers from hallucinations, delusions, and complex fantasies of persecution and horror. That’s bad enough. But what can he do if some of the monsters he sees turn out to be real?
Who can you trust if you can't even trust yourself? The Hollow City is a mesmerizing journey into madness, where the greatest enemy of all is your own mind.


How to Enter:
Enter the giveaway using Rafflecopter.  Hit the green "Do It" buttons, follow the prompts, and hit the green enter buttons when you're done.  (You may have to log in using Facebook to do this.)  There will be one winner (selected by Rafflecopter).  I will contact the winner via email.  This contest is open to international entrants.




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