Monday, March 5, 2012

Dan Wells Author Interview

Photo Content from Dan Wells

DAN WELLS writes a little bit of everything, but he is best known for the Partials Sequence and the John Cleaver series, the first book of which is now a major motion picture. He is a co-host of the educational podcast Writing Excuses, for which he won a Hugo and now helps run a yearly, week-long writing conference. In addition to novels, novellas, and shorts, he has also written and produced a stage play, called "A Night of Blacker Darkness," and works as a staff writer on the TV show "Extinct." He has loved in the US, Mexico, and Germany, and currently resides in Utah with his wife and six children and 439 boardgames.


What made you take the plunge and start writing?
I've always thought of myself as I writer--I told my parents in second grade that I was going to be an author--and I think it's because I've always been a reader. My parents read to us, they read to themselves; I can hardly even picture my Mom without a book in her hand. It's take much before hearing stories turns into creating stories, and then I was hooked for life.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I used to do a lot of theater--school stuff, community stuff, singing and dancing and acting. I actually miss it a lot, but I don't have time right now to get back into it.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Make sure you know why you're doing it. If you're in it for money, or for recognition, it's easy to get disappointed. If you're writing because you love it, none of that other stuff is going to bother you. I actually got quite discouraged a few years ago while I was still trying to get published, and thought about giving up, but I realized that if I wasn't writing professionally I'd still be doing it as a hobby--it's a part of my life, and I'll keep doing it no matter what happens because the writing itself is what makes me happy.

Do you ever come up with anything so wild that you scare yourself, that leaves you wondering where that came from?
Before PARTIALS I published a series of horror novels about a teenage sociopath who stalks monsters. The third book in that series, called I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU, really freaked my out when I drew up the initial outline. There is some weird, freaky stuff in my head.

How many books have you written? 
I have written ten novels, and if I can stick to my schedule, this year I'll finish two more. Several of those will remain unpublished, because they're horrible, but I like to think that each one gets better.

What was your inspiration for Partials?
I grew up in the Cold War, when every morning we woke up wondering if the world would end, so I've always wanted to write a good post-apocalyptic book. I was actually right in the middle of writing an apocalyptic novel--one that takes place during the end of the world, rather than after--when HarperTeen came to me and asked if I had any good YA to sell them. The apocalypse book wasn't a good fit, so I took some of the same ideas (genetics, plague, human arrogance, power and control, etc.) and spun them off in a different direction. In some ways PARTIALS is a spiritual sequel to a book I haven't finished writing yet, which is kind of a funny situation, but there you go.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Kira?
What surprised me most was how easy it was to turn strengths into flaws. I wanted to make Kira as strong as possible: smart, brave, resourceful, and willing to stand up to any kind of oppression and right any wrongs she came across. Those are all good qualities, but taken to the extreme they made her a little reckless, a little short-tempered, and more than a little conflicted as she tries to sort out exactly where she should target her passion. It made her a much more interesting character. On the flip side, I found by the end that a lot of her flaws can also be turned into strengths, which is fun to play around with as I write the second book.

If you could introduce Kira to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
This is going to sound very self-serving, but I'd love to introduce Kira to John Cleaver, the hero (of sorts) from my serial killer series. I kind of think they'd murder each other within hours.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
There are three books in the PARTIALS sequence, and I'm in the middle of writing the second one now. There were all carefully planned from the start--I wanted to have a lot of mysteries, and a lot of conspiracies, and I was determined to make them make sense. I didn't want readers to get halfway through and realize that I didn't actually know what I was doing. Before I wrote anything I sat down and figure out exactly how it was going to end, and why, and then worked my way backward to the start of book one. It's going to be a great, epic story once it's all told.

Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I read very few reviews of my own work. I used to, and they really started to bug me, so I just gave up completely. If somebody posts a really positive one on twitter I'll skim it to see if I should retweet it, but other than that I avoid them altogether.

Any recent appearances that you would like to share with us about/any upcoming ones?
I'm going to be part of HarperTeen's DARK DAYS tour in March, April, and July, which is a really cool tour where they take a handful of YA authors and send them around the country together. You can find the schedule on my website, or on Harper's, and I'm really excited for it. It's going to be great.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
Anything about politics. That and religion are the fastest ways to start an argument, and I find it's just better to smile and nod and move on to something else.

What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
"What do you want for your birthday?" I'm not saying I have a good answer, I just think it would be funny if people asked it.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
I used to live in Mexico, and spent some times in the Tarahumara mountains, and the best way to travel up there was to ride the trains--passengers trains when you could find them, but also freight trains. There's a huge logging industry up there, so long trains of empty flatbeds would head up into the mountains to pick up lumber, and we could hop on those and ride them anywhere. It's gorgeous country, and riding in a flatbed is possibly the best way to experience it.

If you could be any mythology creature, what would you be?
A sphinx, because I could totally see myself asking jerky riddles and then doling out rewards and punishments to people who answered them. Mythological creatures are all kind of toying with humanity anyway, so why not go all the way?

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?
Seven years ago my wife had a miscarriage that almost killed her; she started bleeding internally, passed out, and I had to call 911 to rush her into surgery. She was losing so much blood so quickly that they didn't have time to warm up the blood bags from storage, so she started going into hypothermia as they wheeled her into the operating room. When that door closed I honestly didn't know if I'd ever see her again. She's fine now, and we have five kids--two before this experience and three after--but there's more than a little of that terror, and the things I learned from it, in PARTIALS.

How do you feel about the horror boom of the 80’s and early 90’s?
Horror goes in cycles, more so than any other genre--sometimes it's super popular, and sometimes people just don't care. Part of this is the seesaw between books and movies: Stephen King was huge in the seventies, which sparked a boom of slasher films in the 80s, which sparked a resurgence of horror literature in the 90s, and then a huge wave of zombie stuff in the 00s. I'd like to think that we're due for another popular hunger for horror books, and the authors are certainly there for it: people like Jonathan Maberry and Sarah Pinborough and Stieg Larsson and on and on and on. Even the really popular YA books today, like TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES, are kind of proto-horror that, I hope, will encourage people to dip a little deeper into the genre. It's a very good time to be a horror reader.

If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. with whom would it be?
Johannes Gutenberg's best friend. I want to be there for the very first printed page in human history; that would be an almost religious experience for me.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite horror book and why?
THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, by Victor Hugo. It's a beautiful book, epic and poetic and terribly, horrifically tragic for every single character. That's the book that taught me how a sad ending is not a bad one--done right, a story that's sad for the characters can be cathartic and even uplifting for the person reading it.

Where can your readers find you?
I keep a blog at, which I try to update twice a week: one post about writing and one post about boardgames, which is my biggest hobby. I'm also on Facebook, and on Twitter as @johncleaver, and of course I love to meet readers at conventions and signings and other events. If you can make it to any of the events I announce online, please come say hi.

The human race is all but extinct after a war with Partials—engineered organic beings identical to humans—has decimated the population. Reduced to only tens of thousands by RM, a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island while the Partials have mysteriously retreated. The threat of the Partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to RM in more than a decade. Our time is running out.

Kira, a sixteen-year-old medic-in-training, is on the front lines of this battle, seeing RM ravage the community while mandatory pregnancy laws have pushed what's left of humanity to the brink of civil war, and she's not content to stand by and watch. But as she makes a desperate decision to save the last of her race, she will find that the survival of humans and Partials alike rests in her attempts to uncover the connections between them—connections that humanity has forgotten, or perhaps never even knew were there.

Dan Wells, acclaimed author of I Am Not a Serial Killer, takes readers on a pulsepounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question—one where our humanity is both our greatest liability and our only hope for survival.

Praise for PARTIALS

“A thrilling sci-fi adrenaline rush, with one of the most compelling and frightening visions of Earth’s future I’ve seen yet. I couldn’t put it down.” 
Pittacus Lore, #1 New York Times bestselling author of I Am Number Four

“Wells creates a compelling, fantastically complex post-apocalyptic landscape, adding thought-provoking twists to a classic story of humanity creating its own doom...With broad cross-genre appeal and an engaging balance of thematic depth and rip-roaring action, this winner will leave readers clamoring for sequels.” 
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“A dark, wild ride.” 
Kirkus Reviews

“Readers who enjoy headstrong feminist leads making their way . . . in the not-too-distant future will find plenty to like in Partials.” 
Los Angeles Times

“Mr. Wells has recombined familiar dystopian elements, added original ones and thrown in dashes of dry wit to create a sprawling, action-packed medical thriller full of big ideas and exciting reversals.” 
Wall Street Journal

You can purchase Partials at these following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DAN WELLS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive one Signed Copy of Partials by Dan Wells.


  1. Happy belated birthday to the author!!!

    Thank you for this interview & giveaway!!!

  2. happy birthday!!!! great interview. this book sounds AMAZING!!!!!!!

  3. Awesome giveaway & interview!!

    Happy birthday to the author

  4. As always great interview and giveaway thanks to you both and a HUGE HAppy Birthday!!;))


  5. as always!! thanks for the interview AND the giveaway...I just can't help but love the question about main character meets who??
    That answer was wickedly awesome! LOL!!! He's cruel all right! hahahaha they'd kill themselves? I'd LOVE to meet both the characters then!!

  6. Happy Birthday! May this year be your best ever.
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    The author is handsome ;)

  7. Happy Birthday Dan!!!

  8. Happy birthday! :)

    And thanks for this amazing giveaway! :)

  9. Happy late birthday Dan! :L
    Thank you for the give away.
    This books sounds soo interesting! I love books like this, sci fi-ish :D. I'll definitely be buying this one either way. :)

  10. Partials sounds like an awesome book. Thanks for the chance to win!

  11. the book and the cover is great and would love to
    rad and blog on it

    desi the blonde at msn dot com

  12. I have had my eye on this book ever since I saw the awesome cover. Thanks for the chance to win!

  13. Thank u for this awesome giveaway. Partials sounds great, I'd love to read it.