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Hey! I'm science fiction author Zachariah Wahrer. I'm currently writing the Dawn Saga, a 4 book sci-fi epic full of nano-tech, artificial intelligence, and telepathic aliens. Ask me anything!

Zachariah Wahrer
Mar 19, 2018

The venerable George R. R. Martin said of writing book series: "Start with short stories. After all, if you were taking up rock climbing, you wouldn't start with Mount Everest."

I didn't do this, and after years of writing, I am set to release the 3rd book in my series, Destroyers of the Dawn. It hasn't been an easy journey up to this point (maybe Martin was right), but it has been extremely rewarding. Incidentally, I'm also an avid rock climber, and wouldn't recommend it as a path towards summiting Everest, either!

On the business side of things, I'm an indie author, meaning I do all the behind the scenes work to bring my book to market: cover design, editing, organizing beta readers, promotions, etc. I've always been really into DIY, and chose to be an independent author, rather than leave my creative projects and fate in the hands of others.

Before I started writing, I was in bands for a number of years, including punk and experimental rock. Eventually, I got tired of the drama and the grind that went into it, and decided to try my hand at writing. Now, a decade later, I'm a full-time author.

Feel free to ask me anything! I'd be happy to discuss the creative process of writing, the business aspects, rock climbing, or more details about my book series. AMA away!

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If you could ask Stephen King one question, what would it be?
Mar 26, 2:21PM EDT0

"Why did you end the Dark Tower Series the way you did?"

Thanks for the question!

Mar 26, 2:24PM EDT0
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
Mar 26, 2:13PM EDT0

Outside of writing, I would say Steve House inspires me the most. He is an amazing climber and alpinist who has a lot of interesting views on life.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 26, 2:27PM EDT0
How do you keep the science in your works factual? What sources do you use to cross check your facts?
Mar 26, 5:20AM EDT0

Since I'm not writing science reports, I don't feel obligated to rigorously research the science in my book. I try to make sure the technology is possible (or at least not impossible), by keeping up on developments in physics and several other fields. This comes naturally to me, and I would likely be doing the same research even if I wasn't doing it for my writing. In the end, it really is science fiction and is meant to be entertainment, rather than instructional. :-)

Thanks for the question!

Mar 26, 2:13PM EDT0
Would you consider writing books in other genres some day?
Mar 25, 11:04PM EDT0

Definitely! I love fantasy and horror as well, and have dabbled with them in some of my short stories. The challenge for me is one of marketing rather than creativity. When you develop a fan base, you become known for a certain genre. I definitely incorporate aspects of fantasy and horror into my sci-fi, but the main body of it appeals to sci-fi readers. If I make an abrupt switch, it is likely to alienate at least some of my fan base. This is why many authors use separate pen names for different genres. For me, I don't feel like I have enough fans at this point to split them. And I also don't feel like starting over in another genre with a new pen name. All in all, I'm happy to keep writing sci-fi, although some day I might do a fantasy series or a one-off horror book. :-)

Thanks for the question!

Mar 26, 2:18PM EDT0
What did you do to overcome the challenge of writing Aza's perspective accurately? Did you speak to any 13year old girls to get their opinions?
Mar 25, 7:43PM EDT0

I didn't talk directly to any 13 year old girls (mainly because I don't know any well enough), but I did talk to several women who were once 13, as well as harnessing a lot of my own gender-neutral experiences from that time. Also, since many of her experiences are unique to her environment and culture, I felt comfortable making a few executive decisions when it came to her thoughts and actions.

All in all, I feel she is a realistic character and one I look forward to writing more of in the 4th Dawn Saga book.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 26, 2:23PM EDT0
What is your method of sourcing information for your work?
Mar 25, 1:57AM EDT0

Mostly Wikipedia, Google, and some scientific journals.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 25, 12:15PM EDT0
Why do sci-fi writers find the realm of outer space so fascinating, and why do they like writing about it so much?
Mar 24, 3:16PM EDT0

Because it’s the “final frontier!” :-) Since the Earth has (mostly) been explored, its interesting to have a new setting that is expansive, unknown, and full of possiblities.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 25, 12:13PM EDT0
Why, do you believe, there are not more women writing science fiction?
Mar 23, 9:58AM EDT0

I'm definitely not qualified to answer this, but I will try. :-)

There are likely a number of factors. Historical gender inequality, both in literature and science and tech, seem to blame.

This next part is strictly my opinion: As a culture, we have done a very poor job of encouraging girls and women to be dreamers, scientists, and engineers. The long term effect is this gender imbalance. We do seem to be changing the trend, so hopefully we'll see the imbalances (in literature and in general) stabilize.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 23, 10:31AM EDT0
Many in technology were heavily influenced by science fiction, lately, tech start-ups seem to cite their primary influence as other technologists. In your opinion, does this show a lack of imagination or a lack of good science fiction?
Mar 23, 9:12AM EDT0

I wasn't aware of this trend, but I think if anything, it shows that more people are thinking about the future. We are seeing a convergence of science, imagination, and engineering. I don't think it shows any failure on the part of sci-fi, just that things are progressing. There are also a lot more jobs in science and technology, so perhaps some people in those fields wouldn't have had the same opportunities in the past.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 23, 10:20AM EDT0
When building the fiction world, how much of it was guided by the themes you want to explore?
Mar 23, 2:35AM EDT0

All of it! Thinking about how humanity might develop in the future, the problems and challenges we would face, how technology and motivation play out over long time scales: it all influenced my world building. I don't know how to build a world without themes. :-)

Thanks for the question!

Mar 23, 10:13AM EDT0
Is science fiction entertainment or is it literature, how does entertainment overlap with literature and how does it diverge from it?
Mar 23, 2:23AM EDT0

I'm definitely not an expert on this subject, but my personal opinion is that it depends. Most sci-fi is entertainment, but it can have literary undertones. How much it has to have to be considered literature is definitely beyond my expertise. I just write what I enjoy. :-)

Thanks for the question!

Mar 23, 10:10AM EDT0
What would you say is the top fallacy people have about the process of being published?
Mar 23, 1:49AM EDT0

That publishing a book means people will read it. Honestly, the writing process is the easiest part, I think. The marketing and promotion are difficult!

Thanks for the question!

Mar 23, 9:51AM EDT0
How did you become involved with the theme of your book?
Mar 23, 1:45AM EDT0

Mainly through my interests. I find the concepts of evolution, ascendance, and the convergence of technology and morality to be fascinating. Writing a 4 book series has been a great way to explore these themes.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 23, 9:49AM EDT0
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
Mar 22, 6:11PM EDT0

Multiple perspectives of epic events. I love writing from several viewpoints about galaxy and multi-timescale spanning events. It isn't easy to do (I take lots of notes and use several spreadsheets per book), but I find it immensely rewarding. :-)

Thanks for the question!

Mar 22, 6:47PM EDT0
What are your intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
Mar 22, 8:30AM EDT0

As the third book in the series, I tried to keep the story progressive and engaging. I feel like the middle books in some series are just filler, and I didn't want that for the Dawn Saga. While Destroyers is not meant to be a standalone, it is intended to have a complete story arc within it. I don't want readers to feel like they are just biding time and waiting to find out how the whole series ends.

In the end, I feel like I achieved my goals, but only the readers can say for sure! :-)

Thanks for the question!

Mar 22, 3:28PM EDT0
Are there words or vocabulary concepts in your new book that may be new to readers for sci-fi action?
Mar 22, 5:18AM EDT0

If you started with Breakers of the Dawn, you'll have a pretty good grasp of the particular aspects of the vocabulary. I try to keep things as relatable as possible, both for my long time readers and people who are new to the series, while trying to give the world a unique feel. I try to keep the focus on the story. I don't want the explanation of science concepts or alien technology to get in the way of the storytelling.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 22, 3:23PM EDT0
If emotions are the product of biochemical reactions, then in the future we will be theoretically able to control them and if we could control emotions through technology, should we?
Mar 21, 7:50PM EDT0

Good speculation! I feel like this is inevitable, really. We already have technology that is moving in this direction (chemical treatments for depression and anxiety, mood enhancers, MDMA, etc.). You could even argue alcohol, tobacco, and other such substances do this, although perhaps a bit unpredictably.

Once we figure out ways to more precisely control emotion with technology, I think it gets trickier. For mental illnesses such as depression, it's really easy to say yes, but what about "normal" emotions such as sadness?If you take away the pain, anger, loss, guilt, and shame, you remove a core part of human existence. Would we still be human without them? I'm not saying it would be a bad thing, but it would certainly be different! I think many in-depth, rigorous studies would need to be conducted to show what the real outcome would be. Then, we would be able to make an informed decision.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 22, 3:14PM EDT0
What do you consider to be one of your most powerful weapons when developing worlds and characters for your stories?
Mar 21, 6:26PM EDT0

Daydreaming. I spend a lot of time running and hiking, giving my mind a chance to wander. I'll often see some aspect of the surrounding world that sends me into the future, which often provides great ideas for stories. If they stick with me for awhile, I write them down and incorporate them into my next book. :-)

Thanks for the question!

Mar 22, 3:05PM EDT0
While writing your last book, which character was the most challenging to write and which character came most naturally?
Mar 21, 2:20PM EDT0

Aza (a 13 year old priestess-in-training), was probably the toughest. In addition to being a new character for the series, her perspective was difficult to write accurately. I think I pulled it off, but her chapters required the most editing.

The easiest to write was Maxar. I tend to identify with his character very easily. Since he is a human of similar age (along with several other factors), his perspective comes out naturally.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 22, 3:01PM EDT0
When writing books you only have the voices in your head. Has that made a difference to how you build your characters?
Mar 21, 2:11PM EDT0

To some extent, yes. But I also have friends, family, acquaintances, and the world-at-large that I base aspects of my characters on. They are combinations of personal experiences and observations of those around me.

Thanks for the question!

Mar 22, 2:56PM EDT0
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