We have a lovely vistor on the blog today: Daniel Waters, author of the Generation Dead series! Here’s visiting us as part of a blog tour celebrating his newest release, a YA novel called BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES. I really enjoyed this interview and hope you do, too!
We also have a giveaway of BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES so make sure to stick around!
Hi, Daniel, and welcome to Tynga’s Reviews! We’re so pleased to have you! To start, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
I often write about dead people but I’m really full of life.
How would you describe BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES in a couple sentences?
Break My Heart 1,000 Times is a ghost story about the intersections of love and loss. Ghosts are everywhere and everyone can see them. It is very, very scary.
What is your favourite scene or character in BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES?
I normally have a difficult time picking favorite scenes, but I will say that the first scene with Veronica stands out to me because it came almost effortlessly and required very little editing, and usually I have to work hard for my scenes and need multiple revisions. But that one was the first I wrote for the book and the moment I was done with it I really felt like I’d stuck the landing, and that the scene was exactly what I wanted it to be.
I waffle over favorite characters in my work as well, but I’ll single out Janine here because she barely existed in the manuscript I first turned in to Disney. My editor, Catherine Onder, suggested that I try working with her more and I’m so glad that she did because Janine really came to life in the subsequent drafts and added considerably to the story. Janine was like a ghost that we brought back into the world of the living–it was was sort of like my experience with Karen in the Gen Dead books, because she started as a walk-on only but then blossomed into a character ai ended up writing a whole novel about. I like Janine so much I could see myself writing another story with her as a lead.
One of the things I really liked about your book is how ghosts aren’t inherently scary. They can be, but they can also be joyful, poignant, and so much more. What prompted you to write a supernatural thriller in which the regular (living) people are the scariest part?
Here’s my big secret: the supernatural characters I write about? The zombies, the ghosts? They’re just people, really.
And people are always the scariest part.
While I was reading your book, I could see a lot of parallels between The Event and real-world events like September 11 or the bombing of Hiroshima (especially since you mention Hiroshima in the story) — people’s varied reactions, the host of theories about why this happened, etc. Was this on your mind while you were writing?
Absolutely. One of the many subtextual concerns of the book is how people deal with and are haunted by loss. One of the things that haunts me is our ability to endure absolutely horrific loss–Hiroshima, wars, the Holocaust, genocides–and somehow just keep on keepin’ on.
In general terms of “what is on my mind” when I’m writing a novel, I think of it as two separate psychic contracts: the psychic contract with the reader, which requires me to provide an entertaining story (my concept of “entertainment” may vary from yours however and would probably require an entire essay so I won’t go further than that here), and my psychic contract with myself, which requires me to work out my feelings in a subtextual way–I try write “about” something important to me while also attempting to entertain the reader. Generation Dead is about my feeling on how we treat each other as much as it is about zombies; Passing Strange is about my feelings concerning depression as it is about an anti-zombie conspiracy. The reader may or may not notice or care that those elements are there; whether or not a reader notices that Break My Heart 1,000 Times is “about” my take on the various ways people in America deal with loss as much as it is about ghosts and serial killers hopefully does not detract from its value as an entertainment. Secretly, of course I hope that the reader both notices and has an enhanced entertainment experience for noticing, but each person should take their thrills where they find them.
Two of the deepest scars on the recent American collective unconscious, to me, are the events of 9/11 and at Columbine. Break My Heart 1,000 Times was a my chance to work out some of my personal feelings regarding 9/11; I’ve another novel with my agent where I work out my feelings about Columbine.
On your blog, you describe BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES as “the ghost story I have been wanting to write since I wanted to write” and also the scariest story you’ve written to date. What makes BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES stand out for you?
I’m not sure that this is the same thing that will make the book stand out to readers, if it will, but it stands out to me because I more or less accomplished with the book what I set out to accomplish. I’m never a hundred percent satisfied with a book when I’m done, but I think I fulfilled the basic contracts with myself and the reader–I wanted to write a novel that I though readers would find interesting and entertaining, I wanted to write what I thought was a unique ghost story, and I wanted to write about loss–personal loss and communal loss.
I just found out that BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES has been optioned for film and there’s already a screenplay. Congratulations! Are there any actors you’d love to see portray your characters?
Thank you. I’d love to see any actors portray any of my characters! What had been fun is reading other folks ideas on who should play different people–Jason Fuchs, who wrote a fantastic screenplay for the film, dreamcast Denzel Washington in the role of Mr. Bittner, a choice that never crossed my mind when writing but I could totally see in the role, while a reviewer I read saw Phillip Seymour Hoffman instead, and he’d bring a completely different–and fitting–aspect of the character out. When I was writing I sometimes visualized Frank Langella as Bittner, but really I’m just so excited to see my work adapted to film I’d look forward to welcoming just about anybody.
While there’s resolution for the main storyline, you left a lot of questions open at the end of BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES. Will you be writing more stories in this world? If so, can you tell us anything about what’s to come?
My books thus far have all left questions unanswered, and this is because I tend to think of all-inclusive endings as lies. The world doesn’t resolve itself in a tidy fashion.
However, unlike Generation Dead, which I knew from the moment I started writing that this was a story I would tell over several books, I hadn’t initially thought about writing about the world of BMH1kx beyond the one book. It wasn’t until I started doing revisions that I started to feel like there were other stories needing to be told in this world. I have a few ideas and few pages of notes–I would like to write a story featuring Janine–but I haven’t fully committed on paper yet. I’ll wait and see how much those idea haunt me!
Thanks very much for visiting us, Daniel! It’s been a slice.
Thank you, I appreciate it.
More about BREAK MY HEART 1,000 TIMES:
Living in the aftermath of the Event means that seeing the dead is now a part of life, but Veronica wishes that the ghosts would just move on. Instead, the ghosts aren’t disappearing–they’re gaining power.
When Veronica and her friend, Kirk, decide to investigate why, they stumble upon a more sinister plot than they ever could have imagined. One of Veronica’s high school teachers is crippled by the fact that his dead daughter has never returned as a ghost, and he’s haunted by the possibility that she’s waiting to reappear within a fresh body. Veronica seems like the perfect host. And even if he’s wrong, what’s the harm in creating one more ghost?
From critically acclaimed Generation Dead author Daniel Waters, comes a delectably creepy and suspenseful thriller. Break My Heart 1,000 Times will leave readers with the chills. Or is that a ghost reading over the page?
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Ends Sunday, November 4, 2012
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