Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Author Interview: Oliver Dahl

Today, we have as our special guest the fellow Go Teen Writer Oliver Dahl!  He had so much fun with this interview, he decided to answer almost all the question options we sent!  I'll let him introduce himself.

Well, first off: hi! My name is Oliver. I have as many Tour de France wins as Lance Armstrong, and the same number of Oscars as Leonardo DiCaprio. Oh, and I have two books out. You could say I'm a pretty well-rounded person. :) Anyway, I published my first book when I was thirteen, and now, almost two years later, I have a sequel out, and a whole back list of books waiting to be written. To learn a little more about me check out my About Me page on my blog, or my amazon page.

How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since my kindergarten days of stapling printer pages together, coloring pictures, and writing stories to go along with them. I'm a fan of my "In The Dungeon You Die" book from those days... good times. :)

How much research do you usually put into your books?
It depends. For books like The Dreamers, I don't have to do very much. I did, at times, have to look up different types of guns, grenades, cars, dams, and get some information as to how certain things work in real life. In something like my upcoming book, Lies, I do a LOT. I spent an entire weekend watching videos, and surfing Wikipedia and college pages for information about the Salem Witch Trials, trial processes, characters, timelines, customs, down to the handcuffs on the hands to make it as historically accurate as possible.

Do you base events or people in your books off of your life, or your friends' and family's lives?
No, I don't do this. I oftentimes like to experience what I put my characters through, but I try to keep everything in the realm of fiction.

What was the biggest obstacle to getting published for the first time, and how did you overcome it?
I had a hard time finding a publisher. At times, I had my eyes set on a publisher for a year or so, then I would find a new one and obsess myself with them. It was only after months of looking into different publishers, and publishing types that I found what was right for me. In doing so, I learned SO much about the publishing process(es).

What is your writing process? Do you write regularly at certain times or just when inspiration hits?

I have a hard time writing when I'm not motivated to do so. I try to write regularly, but when I'm not feeling the mood, it just doesn't work. I wish there was some switch that I could push that would put me into the writing mood.

What keeps you motivated?

I tell this a lot. I stay motivated by imagining an awesome, (even unrealistic sometimes) future for whatever I'm writing. I will imagine signing the book and giving it to the hands of a reader first in a line of thousands of people waiting. I imagine success and fame, and tell myself that if I can get through this tough spot, that dream can become a reality. Of course, we shouldn't write for fame, money, or success, but because we love to. I find, however, that it's the times that I don't love to that I need to use this "technique."

Are there any books you wish you'd written?

Definitely Airborn by Kenneth Oppel. The idea is so marvelous and unique, and romantic. I love it. 

What inspired your book?  How did it all start?

All right, story time! My favorite! One night, I had a dream that I was hiding from some assassins, secret agent people under the roots of a large tree in a forest. They found me hiding and managed to get a shot at me--hitting me in the right shin with a bullet. I don't remember the rest of the dream, but I do know that when I woke up, I had a severe bruise.... On my right shin. Right where I had been "shot" in the dream! This lead me to the idea that "What if there are people who, if they get hurt in a dream, get hurt in real life?" This idea kind of spiraled into something bigger and awesome and that I call The Dreamers Series. :)

When did you first realize you wanted to write books? 

I always loved reading, and so the idea of "Write the kind of book you would want to read" really struck me. And so I just started writing the kind of story that I always wanted to have read, but it wasn't there to read... yet. I continue to do this, as I think all authors do. If they get an idea that doesn't appeal to what they would read, they won't be as excited about it. I like writing what I get excited about.

What is your book about? Target age range?

My book follows Sam Kullen, who discovers that he is a Dreamer. This means that he can live inside of his dreams. In them, he and his new friends must team together and fight against the evil Malfix, who is trying to take over not just the Dream Realm, but earth as well. Sam's adventures bring him through races, mazes, explosions, battles, and yes, the occasional cheesy knock-knock joke. :) It's aimed at kids fourth-tenth grade, but I've had second grade girls, seniors, and teachers alike all express their love for the book. I have been surprised and flattered by the much wider age range than I had intended. 

What is your goal in writing and publishing this book?

At first, it was just for fun, and to say that I had published a book. Now, it's really to help kick start my future career as an author. Getting started while not already having to pay bills is an incredible advantage, and I want to use it to my best interest. 

Is there anything that you learned during the process of writing and publishing?
I learned so much about the different publishing processes. I think I could talk about the different ways to publish for weeks on end. (In fact, I have, but for one week...) I also learned how easy and fast the self-publishing process can be.

Can you tell us about the publishing process? Was there anything in particular that surprised you or that was easier (or harder) than you expected?

Like I said before, I was really surprised how fast and easy self-publishing can be. I was also surprised by the prejudice against self-publishing. But what is really sad is that that prejudice is all too often misplaced. I strive to make it my duty to write and produce traditionally-published-quality books. I still have some work to do, but this is my goal.

Which are you - pantser or plotter?

I'm kind of both. Lame answer, I know. I definitely have a general plot. Point A to point B, down until you get to point C, and so on. But how I get from one plot point to another, I almost totally improvise. I pants it up through out my plotting. 

How many books have you written?

Well, I have two out, one in the editing process, one in the rewriting process for the second time, so... What is that? Four books. Wow, that's crazy to think about. Here's to growing that number tenfold!

What are a few interesting things you’ve studied/researched for your latest novel?

I learned that in the Salem Witch Trials, two dogs were killed after they were accused of witchcraft. (What the heck, right?) In addition, a four year old girl was also imprisoned on accounts of witchcraft. A blacksmith had to fashion her her own handcuffs because her hands were so small that they slid out of the normal-sized ones. I shuddered when I learned that, and still do when I tell people about it. 

Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?

I really like the main character, Sam, because he is the lighter side of me. However, I also really like Flitch, Sam's so-called "left-hand man". If Sam is my lighter side, Flitch is far worse. I actually interviewed both characters, and it turned out hilarious. Flitch is the sole source of all cheesy knock-knock jokes and bad puns.

Is there any part of writing that you don’t like?

The editing process. It just seems to take far too long. At the same time, it is such a pivotal, necessary part of the writing process as a whole, that it is really almost as important as writing the book to begin with. I always have to admit that with a slight grudge still being held against editing.

What’s your outlook on fan fiction?

This is a great, unique question--thanks for asking! I'm not personally a fan, as in I don't really read it. If there's one thing that Tumblr has taught me, it's that the best way to get rid of a body is to... Oops, wrong bit of Tumblr knowledge. I meant that a lot of fan fiction often goes south. However, there is some unquestionably good fan fiction out there. (50 Shades of Grey on Twilight not being one of them). On the other hand, it can be really hard to impersonate another writers' style, making it difficult for me to read. I like fan fiction that reads like it could've came from the same pen as the original author. This is just hard to do, and hard to come across. But if someone were to write a fan fiction piece for my books, I would totally read it in a heart beat. I would be ultimately flattered and would most likely love it. (Hint, hint, you other writers. Start writing fan fiction for The Dreamers! ;P)

When you read, what is your favorite genre?

The genres I write. I love modern fantasy. Bringing elements of fantasy into real life is really my passion when it comes to both reading and writing. Rick Riordan, Michael Scott, Richard Paul Evans with Michael Vey, and Suzanne Collins with the Underland Chronicles do a phenomenal job with this.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

Is it cheating to say book editor, cover creator, agent, or publisher? I really love the book publishing industry, and I want to be in it, preferably on the author side of it all, though. However, I really love creating stuff in general, so being an artist, pianist, engineer, etc., would be awesome.

If you gave one or two of your characters an opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?

They would probably question the fact that they are fictional characters and figments of readers' imaginations and begin to question my authority over them. Then they would take over my mind, act as me, and slowly begin to take over the world. Don't ask me how, they just would. How do you know this isn't Sam you're talking to?

If you could have time travel abilities and could meet anyone from any time, who would you like to meet?

So, like... TARDIS abilities? Assuming I can still communicate with them, (again, TARDIS abilities) I think Shakespeare would be awesome. For a long time, I would've said Houdini, because I was on a magician kick for a while in elementary school. Thomas Jefferson is my kind of guy--a total Renaissance man. He was an explorer, architect, artist, writer, president of the United States... Just an awesome guy all around. But a lot of the people I would want to talk to are still alive. (Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling, etc.) And, just because I like to play smart on questions like these, I would also like to meet myself in the future, assuming that doesn't create a time paradox and destroy everything. So...Thomas Jefferson it is.

What's the weirdest thing you've Googled?

Oh man, let me check my search history. Ok. Assuming you're not looking for strawberry marshmellow jello salad recipes, (hey, shut up!) then I would say "Weird Gifs". The results were almost up to par with the weirdness of late night Tumblr blogs.

And because I know you all want to stalk me now, I'm all over the Internet, so there's really no excuse not to be following me SOMEWHERE.

Twitter: @OliverWDahl.
YouTube: Click here to view my Channel.
GoodReads Author Page: Click here to view.
Google+: Click here to add The Dreamers to your circles.
Tumblr: check out what I think is funny at!
DeviantArt: See what I'm drawing over at
I'm on Riffle! Check out my profile.

What do you do when you're not writing?
Surf the Internet, watch movies/Netflix TV shows, (Breaking Bad, Doctor Who, Walking Dead shoutout!) play piano, blog, and vlog. 

If you could only share one piece of advice with aspiring authors, what would it be?
Keep going. I'm not going to expand too much on this. Let it fit where it needs to in your life. Just keep going. (I'm hearing Dory from Finding Nemo, now. Maybe she was onto something...)

Was there anything in particular that was special or unique about the process of writing this book that you'd like to share?
Well, I wrote it for NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writers' Month), so the entire book of The Dreamers was written in the month of November. I even started NaNo late--almost halfway into the month! I was so pumped and eager to get a proof copy that I drove through it like nothing. Editing and publishing, etc., took much longer--almost a year.

Are you planning any other books?
Heck yeah! :) I've got a historical fiction book, Lies, that I'm hoping will be out soon. It was also written for NaNoWriMo, and needs to go through the entire editing process now. And then I also have a catalog of 40-50 different book/short story ideas waiting to be written.

What genres have you written?
Sometimes I joke about the long genre that I put my books in. I call it "Modern YA fantasy/scifi adventure." Now, if only I could fit "action" and "contains cheesy knock-knock jokes" in there. Hmm.... I also just wrote in the Historical Fiction genre, and I loved it. There is a lot less plotting that goes on, since most of that was already written for me by the sands of time. Thanks, sands of time!

Indie publishing or traditional publishing?
I have independently/self-published both of my books so far. I'm hoping to query out to Shadow Mountain Publishing (Fablehaven, Leven Thumps) later this year.

Amazon Page: Click here to check out my books!
Facebook Page: Click here to view my page.


  1. Haha, when you said answer five of six of the questions, I thought you meant of the certain group of questions. Ah well. It turned out great. Your formatting of the interview looks awesome! Thanks so much for having me!

  2. Oliver, I enjoyed reading your answers (I didn't even skip over any questions like I usually do for interview blogs/articles!)

    Your answer to "What do you do to stay motivated?" was helpful and I plan to use it in the future when I hit those rough spots of writing!

    -Trixie Hall