Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Author Interview: Daniel Waters

I want to start by saying, the sequel to Generation Dead “KISS OF LIFE IS IN STORES NOW!” If you have not…. let me repeat again…. If you have not read Generation Dead please go pick it up, I highly recommend it. I’m thrilled that Daniel found time to answer questions about Generation Dead which I might add is “fresh and brilliantly original.” Generation Dead was released last year. Tommy Williams is one of the characters from Generation Dead and he’s earned a special place in my heart. Check out his blog called My So-Uncalled Death. Now, let’s get on with it, I give you Mr. Daniel Waters Ladies and Gentlemen!

I haven’t heard a story like Generation Dead, it’s very original, how did you come up with the idea?
Thank you. I'd watched a newsmagazine show on violence in school, and the clips featured kids who were basically engaging in random acts of violence and taping them so they could put the videos on YouTube. I thought the footage was absolutely terrifying. I knew I wanted to write about it, but my attempts at going at the material "through the front door" so to speak weren't really going anywhere. In thinking about what would cause kids to do this one another, I thought about discrimination, prejudice, hate. From out of the blue I thought that if zombies really existed they would be the most discriminated against group ever, and for some reason this made me envision a zombie trying to take a living girl to the prom. The idea just sort of took off from there.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
I do an outline for every book that I work on, but quite often the outline changes while I'm working on the story. The characters change and grow as I work with them as well--characters I thought were minor end up being focal points. And I guess I shudder at the word "formula" with regard to fiction--the idea of writing the same book over and over again is horrific to me, although I think you see that quite often with series' fiction. I like to try to use different stylistic techniques from book to book--the "speech pauses" in Generation Dead were something I actually spent a good deal of time on, making sure that the breaks happened in the right places in the dialogue. In Kiss of Life I try something new with a zombie point of view. Ultimately, the reader decides if these elements work or don't, but I'd much, much rather try something different and fail than do the same thing over and over again.

What were your feelings when Generation Dead was accepted and you saw the cover of the finished product?
It was such a strange feeling, like I was both completely emotionally and spiritually drained and renewed at the same time. I'd envisioned making my living writing fiction from a very early age, and over the years I wrote, and wrote, and wrote--and along the way I experienced a number of "close calls" where it really looked as though I was about to sell a novel, agents were interested, an editor wants to bring it to committee, whatever--but ultimately each time it didn't happen. Luckily, I'm very stubborn and my capacity for disappointment and pain is boundless, so I never stopped writing--although I did take a number of years, particularly trying years, where I stopped submitting my work. This turned out to be a very good thing, because when I emerged from that cave and started submitting again things happened fairly quickly.

I knew as soon as I wrote the first draft for Generation Dead that it was going to be the book that got me my break in publishing. Everything just clicked. Even so, when it was actually accepted I was overjoyed.

And the cover! I honestly think that it would be my favorite cover even if it wasn't my book. I am very fortunate; both my books were done by a brilliant designer, Elizabeth Clark. The funny thing is, when they told me what their concept for the cover was, it didn't sound right to me at all, but when I saw the finished art I almost fell on the floor it was so beautiful. I vowed then that never again would I squawk, that I'd just sit back and let the experts do their jobs.
I still squawk sometimes, but I try to keep a lid on it.

Would you consider yourself more like Adam or Tommy?
I'm probably a little like both of them--like just about any of the main characters, actually. Adam's loyalty, Tommy's drive. Both of them are willing to endure punishment, physical and mental, for the things that they believe in. Adam's a listener, Tommy's more of a talker and oddly I see myself as having both of those aspects.

I read where you did a guest blog at The Horror Library and you talked about taking your armor off and someone commented about you being the author who writes about dead kids, and your response was “No,” “I’m the guy that writes about kids who’re trying to live.” Is this one of the messages in your books?
I'm not sure--my response there was really just a knee-jerky thing to someone who had already written the book off as exploitation or celebration of teen death, which made me pop my claws because I see the book as very anti-death. If there are messages to be found, I suppose "Choose life, choose love" are among them. "Message" is a funny word in this case, it implies a pronouncement, a definitive statement. I don't think I make any pronouncements; mostly what I think the book does is raise questions.

Do you still write and draw comic books? What is your favorite comic book/movie?
Well, I never could draw, really. I've written a couple of comic book scripts and I keep threatening to collaborate on a comic series with my friend, the artist Matthew Dow Smith. We've pitched a couple ideas but nothing has stuck yet. Watchmen is my favorite comic book by far, and my favorite comic book movie is Ghost World.

Can you share a little teaser with us from Kiss of Life/ What can we expect?
In Generation Dead, the point of view characters were all traditionally biotic. In Kiss of Life you'll get more of the zombie point of view. You'll also get a more old-school zombie!

What’s next for you, can we expect more books in the Generation Dead Series? I'm working on the third, Passing Strange, right now. I do know how the series will end, but I'm not certain yet how long it will take me to get there. Whenever I work with the characters, more stories seem to demand to be told. I've got a number of other projects in various stages of completion, so maybe you'll see some non-GD stories from me in the future.

Thanks, Daniel!


For more information about Daniel and The Generation Dead Series, please check out his blog. You can also read my review of Generation Dead here.

30 comments :

  1. I didn't know it was out aready. Great interview :)

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  2. This was an awesome interview. It's actually made me really want to go pick up the book! :) Mr. Waters seems like an awesome guy.

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  3. As an English teacher I love when authors say they use outlines! I always like to share that with my students when they complain about doing them. Can't wait for the third installment! Great interview!

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  4. Great interview! I can't wait to start this series!

    -Amber

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  5. I never thought of zombies as being the subject of discrimination.

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  6. Nice interview. I've been dying to read these. It should be interesting to see how many books fill up the series and what Dan does next.

    -Lauren

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  7. I enjoyed his description of how characters that might start out in the periphery become more central to the story. thank you!

    gaby317

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  8. What is Old-school zombie???

    mj.coward[at]gmail.com

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  9. Great interview. It was really very interesting.

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  10. What a great interview. I cant wait to read the books.
    Thanks
    Carlene
    iluvreading(at)verizon.net

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  11. Great interview! I've been wanting to read this for ages and didn't realize it was going to be part of a series. It sounds great and different from other zombie stories.

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  12. It's kind of interesting how he went from teens recording acts of violence to zombies. I am always amazed at people who can pull stories like this out of their heads.

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  13. It must be so awesome to be able to interview an author! So cool.

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  14. It's cool that the books evolved from of youtube videos and the idea of a zombie taking a living girl to the prom. Great interview!

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  15. I always find author interviews interesting. I enjoyed it!

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  16. Awesome interview. I can't wait to read the second one!

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  17. It's always so interesting to read author interviews. I love seeing how authors come up with their stories.

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  18. Hmm... Not many authors say that they've envisioned themselves as authors.

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  19. Wow, that is soooo weird that authors don't pick their cover. I always figured that you would take your book and a cover to the publisher, but I guess they would know more about marketing [even though there are so many covers that use the same picture >_<].

    Great interview!

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  20. Great interview! After reading Generation Dead, my favourite character is Adam. He's just so likeable!

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  21. Great interview! He also gave some great answers, I enjoyed it!

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  22. Wow, I have the first one, but still havent gotten around to reading it! Great interview!

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  23. I thought it was really interesting where he came up with the idea for "Generation Dead". I can see why it would be such a hard topic to write about. I have to admit I thought the author was a female... that's what I get for assuming and not looking closer at the name on the cover. This interview definitely opened my eyes in many ways... I feel sooo foolish.

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  24. I really have to pick up the sequel. Got to know what happens to Adam. The covers are so great too. I hope Passing Strange comes out soon because goodness knows I'll devour Kiss of Life in one sitting too.

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  25. Thanks for the interview! It's an interesting to think of zombies as being discriminated against, instead of just going around terrorizing people. This book looks REALLY good and I've been meaning to read it for SO long. Thanks!

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  26. Great interview! I hadn't had a chance to see an interview with DW yet, so thank you! He sounds like a really cool guy.

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  27. I love knowing wehre authors get the ideas for their books....and some kids around here got in a lot of trouble (media, law, otherwise) for doing something like that with youtube so it'll be really interesting to know that when I read the book :)

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  28. Great interview! Yours are always interesting.

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  29. Yhea, old school zombies -- that sounds great!

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