Hypable Exclusive Author Interview: Dan Krokos

3:00 pm EST, November 19, 2012

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.

Dan Krokos
Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

Chronologically:

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.

For more about Dan Krokos:

You can follow Dan on Facebook and find him on Twitter as @DanKrokos. Also check out his Tumblr and website at DanKrokos.com

False Memory is available for purchase from Barnes & Noble, Amazon.com, and other booksellers.

Moviegoers may be getting the Spidey we’ve all been hoping for! A new report reveals that Sony’s animated Spider-Man movie, set to hit theaters in 2018, will focus on the Miles Morales Spidey.

Update (January 18, 2017): Sony Animation confirmed on Wednesday, January 18 that their animated Spider-Man movie will star Miles Morales!

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Moviegoers may be getting the Spidey we’ve all been hoping for! A new report reveals that Sony’s animated Spider-Man movie, set to hit theaters in 2018, will focus on the Miles Morales Spidey.

Update (January 18, 2017): Sony Animation confirmed on Wednesday, January 18 that their animated Spider-Man movie will star Miles Morales!

Original story (May 2016): Heroic Hollywood, who has a good record of breaking superhero news, is the source behind the exciting development. As was previously announced, the animated Spider-Man movie will be produced by LEGO Movie helmers Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The duo are also set to direct the Star Wars Han Solo spinoff for Lucasfilm.

Who is Miles Morales? As we wrote in a lengthy tell-all about the character last year:

Miles Morales is the current Spider-Man in Marvel’s Ultimate Comics series. Introduced in 2011, Miles is a black-hispanic young man who, like Peter Parker, is a talented scientist and self-proclaimed nerd. However, unlike his predecessor, Morales steps into the superhero’s shoes at the surprisingly young age of 13.

Raised in Brooklyn, Miles was born into a family plagued by criminal activity. Before settling down with his wife Rio, Miles’s father Jefferson used to be crime partners with his brother Aaron (Miles’s uncle). However, where Jefferson tried to shrink away from the lifestyle, Aaron continues to embrace it — assuming the role of classic Marvel villain the Prowler. After pulling off a heist on Oscorp, Aaron unknowingly takes a genetically modified spider home with him. It is at Aaron’s house that Miles is bit by the spider and starts the transformation into Spider-Man.

Where Peter Parker relished the opportunity to become spidey, Miles is reluctant to enter the world of vigilantism. What’s more, his family’s criminal history causes him to question whether or not he can ever be a hero, or if evil is hardwired into him.

Oh, and one other cool thing about him: The guy is immortal, unlike the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man.

Related: Who is Miles Morales? We explain everything

The rumor mill was alive with chatter about the MCU’s Spidey being the Miles Morales version last year, but obviously those reports never panned out. The Peter Parker version of Spider-Man was introduced in Captain America: Civil War, played by Tom Holland. He’s getting his own spinoff film, Spider-Man: Homecoming, next year.

Telling the Miles Morales story on screen may be just the thing the animated Spider-Man movie needs in order for it to draw people into the theaters in December 2018. We’ve had enough Peter Parker stories!

2018 will be a great year for super hero diversity: Marvel’s Black Panther starring Chadwick Boseman will be released a few months earlier.

‘The Space Between Us’ set report: What if a human was born on Mars?

Hypable visited the set and spoke to the film's stars.

12:00 pm EST, January 17, 2017

Could a human be born on a distant planet and later survive on earth?

It’s not only a premise that the upcoming science fiction tale The Space Between Us asks, but a real question and concern that people at NASA have considered as well.

Inspired by his son’s obsession with Mars, and the kernel of an idea from another writer he works with, film producer Richard Lewis picked up the phone and posed the question to members of NASA.

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Could a human be born on a distant planet and later survive on earth?

It’s not only a premise that the upcoming science fiction tale The Space Between Us asks, but a real question and concern that people at NASA have considered as well.

Inspired by his son’s obsession with Mars, and the kernel of an idea from another writer he works with, film producer Richard Lewis picked up the phone and posed the question to members of NASA.

He never would’ve guessed what was going to happen when he spoke to them.

“I called a group of NASA scientists and said, ‘So what would happen if an astronaut turned out to be pregnant on a flight to Mars?’ and there was just silence on the other end of the call. And they said, ‘Are you listening to our phone calls?’ I said, ‘No, I’ve never spoken to you in my life.’ And they said, ‘It’s going to happen, and we don’t know what to do.'”

That was when he teamed up with screenwriter Allan Loeb and started fleshing out an answer. “I thought, wow, that’s the beginning of an interesting story.” Lewis even worked with his father, a heart specialist, to examine how that muscle would develop differently on Mars, and aspects of this research became a big part of the story.

The Space Between Us is an interplanetary adventure following a human boy named Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) born on the distant red planet. His mother, an astronaut, only realized she was pregnant with Gardner after leaving on her mission to colonize Mars.

Once Gardner reaches his teenage years he becomes interested in leaving East Texas (yep, on Mars) and returning to the home of his species. Not only is he curious about Earth, but Gardner has also fallen for a girl named Tulsa who’s literally tens of millions of miles away in the state of Colorado. The two met online and can relate over their outsider perspectives.

There’s just one problem: Tulsa doesn’t realize that Gardner is literally living on Mars.

Hypable visited the Albuquerque, New Mexico set of The Space Between Us starring Butterfield, Robertson, and Gary Oldman in late October 2015. On the day we visited, Asa, Britt, and crew were at the tail end of their 37-day shooting schedule which took them through New Mexico, Las Vegas, and Malibu.

It was Day 31, and indoor and outdoor shoots were taking place at Highland High School located in the southeast quadrant of Albuquerque. Since it was a weekday, real classes were in session as Asa and Britt shot outdoor scenes.

The real students who walked by the production had mixed reactions. Some watched and Snapchatted the excitement, while others passed by as if a Hollywood production wasn’t filming right before their eyes. Later in the day, after the real students went home, production moved inside the school to shoot a scene where Gardner and Tulsa meet in person for the first time. It’s one of the more touching moments in the movie.

Earlier, Asa walked into our press tent carrying a drone in tow. He had recently purchased it to try and capture aerial footage for fun, and was learning how to operate it in between filming his scenes.

Both the aerial device and Gardner struggle to deal with Earth’s gravity.

When asked how he handles playing a character who has never been on Earth before, Asa describes it as a very unique experience. “It’s hard to put yourself in that kind of position because we [as humans] are so experienced in the world, and to completely strip all that back and be absolutely in awe at everything you see — a tree, a doorman — everything’s interesting,” he says.

space-between-us-asa-britt

Tulsa (Britt Robertson) experiences zero gravity with Gardner (Asa Butterfield).

Living on Mars your whole life doesn’t mean you’re missing hormones, so girls are also of interest in Gardner. On the relationship between his character and Tulsa, Asa tells us, “They both have this longing desire for being somewhere. Belonging somewhere. Tulsa’s been jumping around through various foster homes, she’s never really settled anywhere. Gardner spends his life on Mars. No one knows he exists. They’re kind of united by this experience.”

“He’s an alien, and she’s an alien, and this is the journey of the story,” Lewis tells us. “Watching these two characters connect, and the disconnects, the misunderstandings, and then ultimately they have a connection.”

Those good and bad connections were present in the scene we observed, which finds Gardner surprising Tulsa in her school hallway. As someone who is tough and reserved, Tulsa is understandably frustrated by Gardner’s sudden appearance. The two still haven’t communicated well with one another — Adorably, Tulsa is unaware that when he says he’s from “East Texas” he means the establishment on Mars.

With Gardner now on earth, the two begin to form a close bond as the Mars-born boy tries to discover his roots.

Co-starring in the movie is Gary Oldman, whose character originally organized the trip to Mars. He wasn’t on set the day we visited, but the actor has a very important role in the movie.

The Space Between Us opens in theaters February 3, 2017.

‘Rogue One’s’ best scene doesn’t involve the heroes

It's a nameless character who saves the day.

8:15 am EST, January 17, 2017

Among the many exceptional scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of the most poignant ones doesn’t even involve any of the main heroes.

Rogue One  is full of memorable moments, some breathtaking, some endearing in the way we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, and all full of an epic sense of the lengths people will go to in the name of hope. It also stands out because of its representation, with a female main character and a diverse cast of supporting characters. But it’s the scene almost at the very end that makes its story truly unique.

It takes place after Jyn Erso and her band of rebels have already completed their mission, and the Death Star plans that they have given their lives to procure are being physically carried through the Profundity by a single individual, while the ship is under attack. Close at his heels is Darth Vader, finally revealed in all his lightsaber-wielding, terrifying glory, killing rebel soldiers left and right. The door jams in front of the man holding the plans, with only a slight gap left open – just enough for him to fit an arm through and frantically get the device to one of the fleeing rebels on the other side, knowing fully that this is the last action he’ll ever carry out.

Read full article

Among the many exceptional scenes in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, one of the most poignant ones doesn’t even involve any of the main heroes.

Rogue One  is full of memorable moments, some breathtaking, some endearing in the way we’ve come to expect from Star Wars, and all full of an epic sense of the lengths people will go to in the name of hope. It also stands out because of its representation, with a female main character and a diverse cast of supporting characters. But it’s the scene almost at the very end that makes its story truly unique.

It takes place after Jyn Erso and her band of rebels have already completed their mission, and the Death Star plans that they have given their lives to procure are being physically carried through the Profundity by a single individual, while the ship is under attack. Close at his heels is Darth Vader, finally revealed in all his lightsaber-wielding, terrifying glory, killing rebel soldiers left and right. The door jams in front of the man holding the plans, with only a slight gap left open – just enough for him to fit an arm through and frantically get the device to one of the fleeing rebels on the other side, knowing fully that this is the last action he’ll ever carry out.

This character has no name, and we know nothing about him beyond this scene. But faced by the most fearsome threat and terrible odds, he abandons fighting and uses his dying moments to get the plans across the doomed ship, and to Princess Leia.

It’s not common to see a scene like this one – scenes that convey the power of the collective action of many people across different areas – done so skillfully, especially in movies that are so character-driven.

In Star Wars, we’ve always focused on Luke and Leia and Han, and more recently on Rey, Finn and Poe. Although we knew that the Rebellion was the fruit of the efforts of many, we never had such a clear look into just how many lives were involved.

Rogue One the Rebellion

This final scene brings it all together, tying together the various storylines we know in an epic finale, and finally connecting them to Episode IV in a perfect mix of excitement and nostalgia. Without this character, driven by desperate hope rather than fear of his imminent death, Rogue One’s mission would not have ended successfully, Leia would have never received the plans… and none of the story we already know would have taken place.

For once, it was a character whose face we didn’t even see properly, dressed just like everyone else, fulfilling his own small role in a much bigger mission, who saved the day.

This ending, maybe even more meaningfully than the stories of the heroes we know and love, shows us the very essence of the Rebellion: a movement of dedication and sacrifice, full of people like the ones that died on Scarif, that put themselves between the plans and Vader, that drove the mission to success in their dying moments – and that stopped the race to save their own lives in favor of securing the mission’s objective.

We, as the audience, can find ourselves in the nameless rebel soldier and his sacrifice – a realistic and emotional portrayal of what makes any movement for change possible: the sacrifices of a vast number of people whose names and faces we may never know, whose stories may never be recorded, but whose lives were spent in search of a better future for the generations that follow.

What scene in ‘Rogue One’ impacted you the most?