20 Minutes with Dan Wells

Dan Wells
Dan Wells

Dan Wells is an author who has crafted some truly superb tales that shine a light on the darker facets of humanity, including the John Cleaver novels, the dystopian YA novel “Partials” (and the soon to be released sequel “Fragments”), The Hollow City, and more.  He’s also one of the co-hosts of the Parsec Award winning Writing Excuses podcast. With such a vast range of experience in both the crafting of fiction as well as discussing the finer points of the craft, you know this 20(ish) minutes is going to be chock full of writerly goodness. And you know what? You’d be absolutely right! (and follow up this fabulous discussion by checking out Dan’s Workshop Episode! )

PROMO: The Way of the Buffalo Podcast

Showcase Episode: 20 Minutes with Dan Wells

[caution: mature language – listener discretion is advised]

Listen to this episode on iTunes

Episode Breakdown

01:10 – The Dan Wells Intro


05:05 – Is there a message that you’re putting out there through your work?

  • 05:45 – Yes, but I’m not sure what
  • 05:55 – I don’t write for a specific audience… I write for myself
  • 07:15 – I DO sometimes think about specific people as I’m writing
  • 08:10 – You could say I’m directing toward my past self


09:20 – Do you stop and research a technical unknown or just blaze on through?

  • 09:45 – If it’s a question that’s really bugging me I’ll stop and address it
  • 10:35 – Geography is also something I have to stop and clarify (I write with Google Maps open)
  • 10:50 – Other questions don’t concern me as much… I’m willing to gloss over them


11:10 – What challenges did you encounter in creating John Cleaver and how do you make a character with such a social challenge likeable to an audience?

  • 12:00 – That IS the major challenge and I knew that going in
  • 12:15 – The only way a book can work is if you connect with the main character
  • 12:30 – One of the tricks was to make him funny – anyone who can make you laugh you will instantly like them more
  • 12:45 – Another thing was I gave John a horrible life (because we root for the underdog)
  • 13:20 – And I gave him the drive to do what’s right.


13:50 – PROMO: The Way of the Buffalo Podcast


14:30 – What value do your books and SpecFic in general have for culture and society?

  • 15:05 – There are a lot of answers to that question
  • 15:10 – The first and most important is “It’s cool and I like”
  • 15:25 – It adds something awesome and Awesomeness is kind of what we’re going for with art, something that interests and inspires you
  • 15:45 – I don’t think that we need to excuse ourselves or apologize for writing genre fiction
  • 16:00 – Genre fiction allows you to do things in a way that you can’t in any other genre
  • 18:05 – Writers are able to address timely and relevant topics but to do it through the lens of genre fiction so people on both sides of the argument can take something from it


19:00 – What do you want for your birthday?

  • 19:05 – I want a reunion concert of the band “Half Cocked”


19:30 – How much accuracy is necessary with personality disorders and how much is too much?

  • 20:45 – That’s touchy ground, especially when it comes to mental illness (it’s always skewed in the media in some way)
  • 22:15 – There is a point where you have to back off and not write a textbook about the disorder
  • 22:45 – The story comes first because that’s what really matters
  • 23:15 – You have to be careful because there are people who will interpret it in either direction
  • 23:55 – Personal experience is always going to inform how someone will see a character


24:20 – How do you twist a scene into something “horrifying”?

  • 25:15 – Taking whatever is happening and making sure you emphasize the restrictions
  • 26:00 – Emphasizing limitations amps up the fear


26:30 – How far does Dan Wells go with gore before he says, “I’m not going there”?

  • 26:55 – The gory parts are never the scary parts in my books (and in most fiction)
  • 27:10 – Once you see the gore it stops being a horror story and becomes an action story
  • 27:35 – Gore can make you uncomfortable or show you how creepy a bad guy is
  • 28:10 – Let the reader fill in the blanks


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Comments (2)

Thanks so much for playing the promo!

Great job guys, as usual. You’re on-fire!

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