Dan Krokos is the author of False Memory, a young adult science fiction trilogy, and The Planet Thieves, an upcoming middle grade duology. Dan put himself through college by pumping gas for nine years, and now writes full time. When he isn’t writing, Dan enjoys watching TV, playing MMORPGs, and drinking coffee.
Could you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?
1. I was Oliver in Oliver Twist, and I stepped on a thumbtack with my bare foot in the middle of a song.
2. My favorite romantic drama is Random Hearts.
3. I really only learned the rules of football this year. Now I really love it.
4. My first name is really Constantine. Dan isn’t a pen name, I go by Dan. Constantine is for legal purposes only.
5. I am an extremely slow reader. It can take me months to finish a book.
I read a ton of books. I got a job at a gas station. I stopped reading to play video games. I became obsessed with video games. I rediscovered my love of reading. I read hundreds of books. I worked at a gas station for almost ten years. I began to write my own stories, because I was so obsessed with stories in general, and I wanted to live in my own worlds. I put every waking hour behind writing. I sent my query in to QueryShark.
I have to credit my friend Adam, who I dedicated False Memory to. If he hadn’t given me a book called Dragons of Autumn Twilight one autumn afternoon, I would probably still be at the gas station.
What has surprised you about writing and publishing?
How it always stays hard. There will always be good days and bad days. As for publishing, it surprised me how much it’s like high school – at least the YA side. TRUST NO ONE, QUESTION EVERYTHING.
Why do you feel drawn to the stories you write?
I daydream constantly. Writers are bored with real life. Real life is not enough. So to explore worlds and then share those worlds with other people is such a privilege it still hasn’t really hit me yet, even though I’ve been doing this for a while.
I have ideas, and taking those ideas from concept to completion is simply the most fulfilling thing I can think of. I write about things that interest me.
At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?
Immediately. I don’t move forward with an idea unless I can make it into a novel or a screenplay. I can’t do short stories very well (though I’ve tried).
That doesn’t mean I don’t have hundreds of ideas in my Idea Graveyard. I do.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Early on I got a lot of notes asking for more emotion from the characters. It’s hard to put emotion into words for me. Think about the last time you were angry, or sad. It’s just a feeling, right? You can’t describe a feeling without taking away from the feeling itself. Feelings are beyond words. It’s a work in progress—as writing should be.
What has been the best compliment you’ve received?
That I write good action. It’s important to me that things aren’t vague, so I do a little dance when people say the action was like watching a movie.
Where’s your favorite place to write?
Behind my desk. Writing in cafes and stuff can be cool, but I like to be mega comfortable. Pajama pants and coffee from my Keurig are necessities.
Now, my ideal place would be in an actual office with an amazing desk/chair and a huge monitor. With a killer view. One day.
Do you most relate to your main characters, or to secondary characters?
It depends. I have something in common with all of my main characters. It comes simply from being in their head more.
How do you approach writing villains or antagonists?
It really depends on the project. Is it a book where I want a “fun” villain? If it’s adult, the villain is going to look substantially different, simply because I can get away with more. I try not to think about it too much, and just feel the person out.
I definitely like when a villain is similar to the hero in some way. I don’t really buy the whole “every villain is the hero of their own story” idea. The world is filled with people who do wrong and simply don’t care. Sure they might try to justify it, but deep down I would say most people know the difference between right and wrong.
What is your favorite chapter or scene you’ve written recently?
I normally really enjoy the action stuff, but recently I wrote a make out scene between two characters that haven’t seen each other in a very long time. It takes place in a very dangerous place and almost has that feeling of, “What are you guys doing! You’re in danger.” But it was fun to write and released a lot of tension that was building up in the story.
Which is easier to write: The first line or the last line?
The first, maybe. During the writing process, I get a better and better picture of how it’s all going to end. Once that’s in place I usually know my last line ahead of time.
Which one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?
I would say Harry Potter, but that was around when I was a teen, I just wasn’t into Harry Potter (I know, crazy). So probably the Hunger Games. It’s one of my favorites of all time.
Do you have things you need in order to write? (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music?)
Music is good for breaks, but I try not to listen to it while writing. I need coffee for sure, and water. No food. I don’t like getting food grease on any of my electronics, especially my keyboard. I’m weird about it.
False Memory has been optioned for television by RKO. What was it like to find out that your book has been optioned? What do you hope for in the adaptation?
It was extremely cool, and didn’t feel real. It still doesn’t. I still feel like the guy at the gas station. That said, I think there’s a lot of misconception about what it means to have a book optioned. It doesn’t mean anything is actually going to get made. Production companies snatch up rights all the time to various projects they hope will hit big. Out of all the YA books being optioned right now, an extremely small percentage will actually be made into films/TV shows. I try to not think about it at all, until there is some kind of news.
The Planet Thieves, which comes out in May, is currently at Warner Bros with Benderspink and the producer of Harry Potter (David Heyman) attached. For both projects, I would be beyond excited to see whatever they come up with. I believe in new interpretations. I don’t understand when fans explode over casting news, or when a movie changes something from the book. Of course it’s not going to be exactly like your imagination! So yeah, no matter what happens, I’d be thrilled. Unless they use muppets or something.
What are you working on now?
I’m finishing up the first draft of the third False Memory book, and also working on the sequel to The Planet Thieves.