I was honored to be interviewed by Nathan, the son of one of my beta readers, as part of a presentation for his sixth grade class. Nathan recently read Oasis, my dystopian novel, and had some really insightful questions about the book and my experience as a writer. He also had some great feedback on the book that really made my day. I’ve always wondered if teens/tweens would like Oasis, and knowing that at least one did is making me very happy.
Here is my interview with Nathan:
I. About how long does it typically take you to write a book?
3-4 months, on average.
II. Did you think you would be an author when you were younger?
No. The idea didn’t occur to me for a while, but I’ve always loved reading and writing is a good next step for book lovers to take, in my opinion.
III. When not writing books, what do you enjoy doing?
Magic and mentalism, TV shows with Anna, walking in various local parks, and biking.
IV. Do you enjoy reading books? If so, what is your favorite genre to read?
I read about 5 books a week and love doing it. I read mainly sci-fi and fantasy and feel like everyone ends up writing the genre they like to read.
V. When did you release your first book?
My wife and I collaborate on all our stories, so the first “Anna Zaires” (i.e. romance) book came out in October of 2012. But our first “Dima Zales” (i.e. sci-fi and fantasy) book came out in December of 2013.
VI. I noticed that you have New York Times Best Selling Author on the book cover. Is that hard to do and what books have made the list?
I’m a New York Times bestselling author because I was lucky enough to marry Anna Zaires :). Hold Me, a romance novel we co-authored, made the list, and we didn’t really have to do anything special—just write a great book and cross our fingers.
Now for questions specific to Oasis.
I. The story was very unique, did something give you the idea for this story or did it just come off the top of your head?
One day, Anna and I were walking together, and I had the idea of doing a dystopian novel with a cool twist. From there, ideas just kind of poured in as we brainstormed the rest of the book (that’s what we do for most books—walk and brainstorm).
II. Would you consider this story science fiction or science fantasy?
I believe that all the technology in the book is possible, which makes it science fiction. The culture of Oasis might be more far-fetched, though, so in that sense, the book might be more of a science fantasy.
III. Did you come up with the plot all at once or did you piece it together?
The ending and some of the characters came first, while some of the mid-book twists came about almost on the fly.
IV. Was there ever a time where you had to scrap an idea or a part of the story?
I had an alternate ending in mind at first, where Theo emails the whole school about his findings. It seems like a cool cliffhander-style ending of the type “Things will never be the same again.” That ending (or even the event itself) never happened in the final version of the series.
V. About how long did this story, in particular, take you to write?
It was written fairly quickly, over 2 or 3 months, if I recall correctly.
VI. Was there ever a part in the story that you had trouble thinking up?
The details of the “total recall” moment was something Anna and I brainstormed for a while before it finally became what you read.
VII. My mom said she read this book before you released it. Is that true?
Your mom is amazing. She didn’t just read this book before it was published. She reads most of our books (both mine and Anna’s) before they’re published AND she tells us if the book has a problem, which often leads to much better books.