I’m happy to say I can call this author a friend and I’ve been hyping and promoting her latest novel so much because I genuinely love it so much! Please read this awesome interview I was honoured to ‘conduct’:
1. Hi Katya, congratulations again on the release of your second novel! How was your recent Oasis tour? Any great moments you still think about?
Thank you, Tracy! And thanks for having me back for another interview on your blog.
I’m still recovering from my travels, but despite being completely exhausted and overwhelmed, I’m so happy that I got to launch Oasis in the US. So many great moments! Meeting my publishing team in New York, launching my book in the iconic Books of Wonder shop, followed by a Californian launch in Once Upon a Time – the country’s oldest children’s specialist bookshop (it’s run by a family and they have the most adorable literary cat named Pippy who oversees all book acquisitions :). Overall, I’ve enjoyed meeting booksellers and catching up with friends and family over there. I’m particularly blown away by the generosity, kindness and general awesomeness of the bookish community. Both Sara Faring and Adalyn Grace cannot be thanked enough for being my super-star in-conversation author guests at the New York and Los Angeles events respectively. I’ll treasure these memories forever!
2. I loved that you released another YA book that’s a mystery/thriller. How would you describe how different Oasis is compared to What the Woods Keep though within that genre?
After writing What The Woods Keep, which is more of a slow-burn, darker mystery, I wanted to try my hand at something more action-focused but still grounded in things I love (science, philosophy, unexplained phenomena, etc.). Hence: Oasis. If I were to draw cinematic comparisons, I think of my debut as a “tribute to Twin Peaks” book and Oasis as my answer to Lost but if it got together with Twilight Zone and they made a weird baby (lol).
3. In your research when writing Oasis, did you find any cool cases of missing people in the desert? Any chance out there that we might find ourselves in an oasis?
I remember taking a philosophy class once upon a time one million years ago (haha) and basically there’s a fairly big chance we’re all actually trapped in an oasis-like situation. You know, just saying.
Seriously (?) speaking though, the only research I did for Oasis had to do with the nuances of field archaeology. Where the rest of it was concerned, I just let my mind roam free. But… I did just now do a google search for “people lost in a desert” and it’s gotten 223,000,000 results so it looks like this is a more common occurrence than I thought.
4. The topics of morality, survival and trust are so fundamental to the book’s plot as these friends struggle to understand what’s real and what isn’t, was there anything in particular that inspired idea?
I just really wanted to explore complex group dynamics and how those are affected by terrible, uneasy situations. Lots of fictional survival centred narratives I’ve been studying primarily deal with how complete strangers would have to work together in order not to die. While that’s also interesting to me, I was more curious about how close friends would fare in such a situation – but with an added “wtf is really happening to us” component. What would being exposed to incredible (and possibly supernatural) danger do to friendships or romantic entanglements? Would those bonds be strengthened or would they fall apart at the seams?
5. Absolutely loved that Alif and co. were from Melbourne, but I noticed that the names of their university were obviously fictional – do you find it hard to make up names for places and/or characters?
Thank you! I wanted the cast of Oasis to reflect my hometown’s diversity and also my own experiences as naturalised Aussie, so pretty much everyone in this book has some kind of immigrant background. But I decided to fictionalise universities because I wanted to take some creative liberties with educational offerings in the sense of what Alif and her friends are planning to do with their lives (aside dealing with their oasis, of course!), so I just didn’t want to be limited by “real life”.
6. Since you have now published two books, would you say you’d developed a good writing routine? How do you structure your time to write while working?
Yes and no. “Yes” in the sense of I, kind of, know a) that I’m indeed capable of writing a book and b) what it takes to write a book. But “no” because every book is different and some are more difficult to write than others. Speaking of routine… I have a full-time job, so I have to write around that. Luckily, I work at a university, so I enjoy a certain degree of flexibility many jobs likely don’t have. I write during lunch breaks and sometimes in the evening after dinner, and always on weekends.
7. It was very exciting to see your tour in the US, when can we expect to see Oasis book events in Australia?
I have several Australian events coming up in February and March. I kick off my local tour with a launch event at Sydney’s Galaxy bookshop on February 15, followed by an event at Canberra’s Paperchain bookshop on March 7 and then an event at Melbourne’s Readings Kids on March 19 – in conversation with the wonderful Sarah Epstein. I’ll also be appearing on one of the YA Day panels on March 14, while those interested in learning more about craft from me can tune in for a digital workshop I’m doing as part of WordOnCon 2020 – my showcase called “Working with an editorial agent” is scheduled for February 16, 4-5pm (EST). More info is available here: https://katyabecerra.blogspot.com/p/events.html
8. A huge congratulations again, and what’s next for you?
Thank you! I’m writing my next YA… Actually, I’m playing with several YA book ideas at the moment… But I’m also working to diversify my writing and write books for different age groups, not just for younger readers (though YA is always going to be my go-to genre!). Stay tuned for more specific news – hopefully soon.
Katya de Becerra
Katya de Becerra wanted to be an Egyptologist when she grew up. Instead, she became a cultural anthropologist – not the type who goes away to faraway locales but the one who sticks to the urban and the familiar and attempts to view it through a stranger’s lens. She immigrated to Australia in 2006, after having lived in Russia, USA and Peru, and now writes young adult fiction set in some peculiar place with a mercurial atmosphere where strange things go bump in the night.
What The Woods Keep was her first novel (out now), which is followed by another standalone Oasis in 2020.
What did you think of this author Q&A?
Until next time,