Today I welcome to the blog teen writer Oliver Dahl, who self-published his first book, The Dreamers, in 2011, when he was fourteen! Since then, he’s also self-published the sequel, The Nightmarers (both of which I have on Kindle and am enjoying immensely). Lies, OUT NOW, is a tale of the Salem Witch Trials from the view of Ann Putnam Jr:
Ann Putnam Jr., one of the leading accusers during the Salem Witch Trials (1692) knows that something is wrong. After a horrifying encounter with Tituba, her friends were cursed. Miraculously untouched by the effects of the witch, Ann acts bewitched as well, in an attempt to accuse and hang her friends’ torturers. This tragic experience of guilt, abuse, power, and love gives a first-person view into the spine-chilling months where neighbor turned on neighbor at the word of a little girl.
Lies stands as a chilling, masterful, introspective looking-glass into history and the human condition.
Check out Oliver’s site to keep up with the news. A sample of Lies can be found here.
As part of the Lies blog tour, I put together some questions for Oliver…
1. Why did you originally decide to self-publish?
Originally, I just liked the simplicity and ability to control one’s work. That appealed to me. And now that I’ve got (almost) three books out via self-publishing, I’ve come to realize that there are many more benefits than this to self-publishing. Things like the community, other writers, larger royalties, only add on to the already existing benefits.
2. What do you find the hardest thing about self-publishing?
My last statement said, self-publishing isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. The hardest thing for me is having to promote myself. A lot of work doesn’t always yield proportional results.
3. Self-publishing gives you a lot of freedom, but what’s your favourite part of it?
I love being able to fix things. Just over a week ahead of my intended publication date (March 11), I was able to add final edits and have it ready to go. With “traditional” publishing, there’s almost no way to do that. (Ideally the book would be ready ahead of time, but…you get the idea).
4. What about Lies specifically – what made you decide to continue to publish without agency/press help?
Again, I think I have to say the simplicity and control. I didn’t have to worry about submitting manuscripts and relying on the chance that the book would get picked up. I had a cover ready to go, and followed it through to the end. (For better or worse, haha. I really hope you like it. I wouldn’t ever call myself an artist/graphic designer).
(Personally, I love it. It stands out, yet is simple and clear)
5. Where did you first get the idea for Lies?
I originally got the idea when I was thinking of what I should write about for NaNoWriMo of 2012. Earlier that year, I had been reading my freshman year history text book and was appalled to find only one paragraph detailing the Salem Witch Trials. One paragraph! I normally write things that fit in the science fiction/fantasy genre, with elements of real life in it, and so I thought I would try and switch things around from the usual. “Lies” is definitely historical fiction. But witchcraft shows up (surprise!) and there’s no telling if it’s real or an illusion. In this way, I was able to incorporate elements of fantasy within a historical fiction novella and still maintain the genre. I’m really proud of this.
Ooh, sounds interesting. 😀
6. What did you find the most difficult part of writing a historical fiction novel?
The research, and incorporating it in the story. The Saturday before NaNoWriMo started, I sat on my bed with my iPad and researched everything I could about the Salem Witch Trials, bookmarking dozens of sites, watching documentaries, and perusing article after article, trying to piece together my story from realistic events as accurately and realistically as I could. Now, I’ll be the first to point out that not everything in “Lies” is historically accurate. That’s where the fiction part comes in to the genre name. 🙂 But for the most part, the book is quite historically accurate. Most dates, characters, and even the lack of contractions (thanks to my latest editor for this keen eye to detail!) are accurate.
7. Which period of history is your favourite?
Great question! I had a fantastic time researching Salem, and have fallen in love with the dark, tragic time in American history that it was. I also really enjoy early European History, and especially the history of Paris, France.
8. Have you ever thought of/would you ever write a novel set in that period?
I am writing a book right now that takes place under the catacombs of Paris. The catacombs are one of the most interesting pieces of Parisian history, in my opinion. While the story takes place in modern times, and not in the past, much of the fictional setting exists due to actual history that took place (like the French Revolution).
9. Favourite historical figure?
I really appreciate the renaissance men of history. Not necessarily solely from that period, (though Leonardo da Vinci is up there on my list) but any person who has been talented in multiple areas. Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorites on this list. Completely aside from being the third president of the United States, he was an explorer, built his own home, wrote the Declaration of Independence, served in Congress, was a diplomat in Paris, founded a college, sent out Lewis and Clark, spoke several languages, was into science, religion, and invention… he is the man that comes to mind when I hear “Renaissance Man.” Though not a perfect man, I have to say TJ is my favorite. 🙂
10. Tell us something unexpected about Lies.
Lies isn’t dedicated to a person. It’s dedicated to a website community. Last year, http://www.imgur.com
helped get my last book, The Dreamers, (www.oliverdahl.com/the-dreamers) on Amazon Category Bestseller lists. (As a matter of fact, over 4,000 downloads were achieved thanks to Imgur). In exchange for their help, I promised them that I would dedicate my next book to them. And so I did. OP delivers. 🙂 For some laughs, and to waste some time, check it out. There’s some great people over there.
Thanks for the questions! They were great! Thanks for the answers, Oliver. Hope the release goes well!
Want to know more about Lies? The blog tour schedule: