What piece of advice would you give to a budding author?
Everyone says write and read as much as you can, which is probably the best advice. But I’ll say this, because it was crucial to me:
Learn to let go. I let go early on, and it made all the difference. That means when you finish a manuscript and you know your skill level isn’t quite there, just move on. I wrote three manuscripts before I started editing myself. They kept getting better, but I knew I wasn’t there, and I just wanted to keep trying new stuff. You have to make it fun in the beginning.
And keep this in mind: if you keep getting better with each book, you have to succeed eventually. It’s just a matter of time.
What's your favorite book and why?
Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell. It’s an adult crime literary thing. It’s a masterpiece. The writing is flawless. Very rarely do I read a book that has a line that just punches me right in the intestines. The voice is incredible, and it’s highly visual, and extremely funny. In short, it’s everything I love about stories in one book.
Where did you get the idea for False Memory?
I’d written an urban fantasy about a new type of magic. The magic gave people the ability to control fear in others. It intrigued me, and stuck with me even though I wrote several books after it. Growing up, I was a very fearful person. I was afraid of bees and girls and speaking in public and meeting new people, and driving with friends, and my future. I let it control me.
I knew I wanted to revisit this idea. I first used Miranda North in a YA paranormal thriller, but decided to try a pure thriller. No one else was doing that on the YA side. I had to read adult books to get that fix—namely the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. I brought the fear idea along, and slowly Miranda and her past began to take shape.
Did you hit any snags while writing False Memory? What were they and how did you fix them?
I had trouble writing from the point of view of a teen girl. Thankfully for book 2 I already knew Miranda well. I’m actually looking forward to book 3, since I’ve spent so much time in her head now.
Along the way, several women in publishing (around 6) read False Memory and were able to give me feedback. I learned a lot about girls. Their help was invaluable. Without them, I think Miranda would’ve been inauthentic.
Which one of the characters in False Memory is your favorite and why?
Peter. He’s the guy I wish I could be. All the qualities I strive for. He’s not as funny as Noah, but his goodness makes up for that.
You're pretty young for an author (whose actually getting published). Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as an author? How long have you been writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
I did not always want to be a writer. When I was a kid, I wanted to act. I wanted to work in movies. Then I wanted to be a police officer. I went to college for law enforcement. I took the tests and scored high. But then I rediscovered my love of reading, which lead to a love of writing.
Once I finished that first novel, I knew there was nothing else for me to do. I started writing the summer of 2007. I finished my first book in March 2008. I got an agent in August 2009. And sold my first book in October 2010.
I will say part of my journey involved three books a year and no social life. I put every ounce of energy into making my dream a reality.
What are you working on now? We see you're writing the sequel and a MG novel with aliens! Will you continue on the SF track?
I just finished False Memory 2, which was an epic 20 month (on and off) ride that I’m really proud of. Right now I’m working on edits for THE PLANET THIEVES, which is my MG debut coming in May 2013. This is a better summary than I could write: “When the crew of the SS Egypt gets massacred by an alien race, Mason Stark, a thirteen-year-old cadet in the Earth Space Command, must lead his fellow cadets in a daring surprise attack to retake the ship, and recover a stolen technology that could spell the end of planet Earth.” It is a pure adventure story, and the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. I’m also working on False Memory 3.
Once I’ve finished all the books on my plate, we’ll see what direction I want to go. I like trying new things. I doubt my next YA series will be sci fi, but for MG, I hope I get the opportunity to write many, many books in the Planet Thieves universe.
Now that you're not pumping gas, we assume that you spend copious amounts of time writing and drinking coffee. But when you're not doing that, we assume you play MMORPGs (perhaps also while drinking coffee and writing). What's your favorite game and why? Also, just for SAGs, what's the awesomest (yes, that's not a word, I know) character that you've ever played and why?
My favorite game of all time is actually a series of games called Mass Effect. It’s the perfect blend of storytelling and gameplay. There are three games in the trilogy.
The awesomest character I’ve ever played has to be Commander Shepard from Mass Effect. He’s got a great story and feels like a real hero. But I have not played the Arkham Asylum series yet, so I’m guessing Batman will oust him whenever I do.
Granted, I haven’t played many other RPGs. I played WoW for years (like 6), and City of Heroes before that, but you aren’t really playing a character. I’m also a huge Halo fan.
Since you're sort of sparse on personal details in your bio...What's the coolest trip you've ever been on? What happened (leave out the illegal stuff, you're a YA author now), where'd you go?
The coolest trip was actually one I took just this June. I went to LA for over two weeks. I just hung out with my buddy who moved there. We ate at IHOP 8 times. I got to visit all of the different movie lots, which was a childhood dream come true.
What's it like writing a superhuman?
Incredibly fun, because there is almost no limit to what you can come up with. Miranda and her friends are highly trained, but they don’t have any special powers outside of their ability to control fear. I really wanted to ground them. If you run them over with a car, they will die.
I’ve written several superhero novels, though, and those are pure fun. I think after three False Memory books, I will try to focus on a main character who can’t necessarily sword fight and shoot guns while riding on motorcycles.
Dan is going to send FALSE MEMORY to one lucky winner!
False Memory: Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory. In her panic, she releases a mysterious energy that incites pure terror in everyone around her. Except Peter, a boy who isn't at all surprised by Miranda's shocking ability.
Left with no choice but to trust this stranger, Miranda discovers she was trained to be a weapon and is part of an elite force of genetically-altered teens who possess flawless combat skills and powers strong enough to destroy a city. But adjusting to her old life isn't easy--especially with Noah, the boyfriend she can't remember loving. Then Miranda uncovers a dark truth that sets her team on the run. Suddenly her past doesn't seem to matter...when there may not be a future.
Dan Krokos' debut is a tour-de-force of non-stop action that will leave readers begging for the next book in this bold and powerful new series.
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