Dan Wells 2012


 
 
Dan Wells is a really nice guy.  I know this because I have met him and he didn't run away from me.  This is the first sign of an awesome author.  He's also awesome because he writes cool books.  The John Wayne Cleaver trilogy started in 2010 with
I Am Not A Serial Killer.  The series is about 15-year-old John Wayne Cleaver who happens to be a sociopath.  He has very careful rules in place to keep himself on the straight, narrow,a and non-homocidal path.  That's all working out for him until an active serial killer moves to his town.  John is the only one with a perfect insight into the mind of the killer, but to track him down John must break his own rules and open himself up to the monster inside.
 
 
Earlier this year, Dan wrote Partials, a post-apocalyptic, dystopian novel centered around a girl named Kira.  Kira lives in the last human settlement in North America.  The rest of the country has been given over to wildlife and the human looking androids named partials.  She is one of only a few thousand survivors of the Partials war and the RM virus that wiped out most of the population.  In the years following the end of the war the partials have retreated, but no babies are being born that can survive the virus.  Kira is a young medic with a plan to help save the children and the future of the human race; catch a partial and study it.  If the partials made the virus then they have to know how to cure it.  However, no one has made contact with a partial in over a decade.  She not only has to find one, but somehow capture and study it without sparking a new war that could destroy her entire world.
 
On July 3 the Dan's newest book, The Hollow City, will be released.  He will be here signing it on July 6!  The first thing you have to understand, is that Michael Shipman, our protagonist, is not to be trusted.  I mean, he’s a nice enough guy, but he’s a paranoid schizophrenic.  He has delusions.  He sees things that aren’t there and imagines that dark, shadowy people are out to get him.  They communicate thought any device that sends an electronic signal; cell phones, computers, tvs, clock radios.  The faceless men are the worst.  They literally have a blank where their face should be.  They’re out to get him and do something horrible to him.

Granted, Michael has a right to be paranoid.  His pregnant mother was kidnapped and murdered by a cult.  People were out to get him before he was even born.  His father resents that Michael lived while his mother died.  He’s had a hard life for a young man.  But, it’s all just in his head.  Right?

The problem is that there are murders happening in the city.  Horrible murders.  Murders where the killer disfigures the victim’s face.  The FBI think that Michael might know something, have seen something during one of his episodes.  Or maybe, Michael saw everything because he is the killer?  Michael himself can’t remember what happened the last time he blacked out.  But there are only two possibilities; either he is a serial killer, or, some of the things he sees are real and they’re coming for him next.

There is a giveaway for signed copies of Partials  and The Hollow City going on on my blog right now! 

 
 
 Sara:

Which is harder to write, the world view of a schizophrenic, the world view of a sociopath, or the world of an apocalypse?

Dan:
Schizophrenic, definitely. With both sociopaths and the apocalypse I was able to set up simple rules and watch them play out: if X then Y, every time. With schizophrenia the rules are much more fluid, which made the character and the mindset much harder to wrap my head around. It was rewarding to see it finally take shape, though, and I love the way it turned out. You'll see if you agree in July, I guess, when THE HOLLOW CITY comes out.

(Oh, we agree!)

Sara:
Are any of the worlds of your novels linked?

Dan:
Not explicitly, though I've toyed with connecting John Cleaver and 
HOLLOW CITY because there's nothing that says they can't be.

(Pretty please?)
 

Sara:
Isn’t it still paranoia, even if they are out to get you?
Dan:

Accurate paranoia is still paranoia, though if it keeps you alive it might not be classified as a disorder anymore.
 

Sara:
Will we ever see John Wayne Cleaver again?
Dan:

Yes, but not for a few years. I have three books to finish first before I'll have time to write more Cleaver books.
 

Sara:
How did you have to change your style or process to write YA after writing a series of adult books?
Dan:

I don't know. I don't think of them as "adult books" and "YA books," I think of them as "John Cleaver" books and "Kira Walker" books. They have different styles and personalities and inner dialogues and everything else, and that changed the books immensely. I honestly don't know if one is more YA than the other, because that's not what I think about as I write.
 

Sara:
Was Partials always planned as YA or did you realize at some point during the writing process that it was headed in that direction?
Dan:

Partials is a unique case, because the publisher came to me and said "we're looking for a YA science fiction series, what have you got?" I had some ideas, pitched them as YA, and we went from there.
 

Sara:

One of the images from Partials that really stuck with me was Xochi’s basket of music players.  It was incredibly poignant to think about all of those people leaving something behind with their music libraries.  Does music play much of a part in your writing process?

Uprising

Dan:

 
I'm glad you like that part, because it's one of my favorites. Music is a huge part of my life, and I listen to it all the time, including when I write. Partials was written on a steady diet of protest songs: old 60s songs about Vietnam, modern disillusionment stuff like Green Day, and big revolutionary anthems like Muse's Uprising. Each of the Cleaver books has a signature song that defined it in my head: I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER is Everlong, by theFoo Fighters, MR. MONSTER is Tear You Apart, by She Wants Revenge, and I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU is Got You Where I Want You, by The Flys.

Sara:
Reality is somewhat fluid in your works.  John Wayne Cleaver’s world has layers upon layers of truth, Kira’s post-apocalyptic world has multiple factions working to manipulate perception, while Michael Shipman in the forthcoming 
Hollow City starts off with a diagnosed mental illness that normally would make him untrustworthy as a protagonist.  Is it easier to write a world where you can bend the rules of reality, or does making up a whole new code of physics, moral order, etc. come with its own unique challenges? 
Dan:

I write this way because that's how we live: we do our best with the knowledge we haven but that knowledge is inevitably incomplete, and sometimes completely backwards. What this gives us in fiction is not just a constant redifining of truth, but a redefining of morality. Killing your neighbor, obviously, is wrong, but what about killing him self defense? What about killing him to save somebody else? Everything you learn forces you to look at everything you already know in a completely different way, and something that would have been unthinkable in one light might be morally necessary in another. I find that fascinating. Living with incomplete information also means that sometimes you make a wrong choice, sometimes a very wrong one, and living with that is one of the other things I love to explore.

Sara: 
Since I met you while you were talking to Jonathan Maberry – Can Partials be turned into zombies?   And to follow that - who would win Partials or zombies? 
Dan:

I would say yes, they can, but who would win depends entirely on how much of the amped-up Partial physiology remains after the zombification process. Zombie super soldiers sound pretty devastating.

 

Sara:
Just for fun - What’s the last movie you saw?
Dan:

As of this writing, the last movie I saw was RIVERS AND TIDES, a documentary about the artist Andy Goldsworthy. It was pretty awesome. I rarely ever see movies in theaters, so my last one there would be...CAPTAINAMERICA, I think, which I saw with my son.





Comments