A couple of months ago an eighth-grade boy named Max interviewed me for his English class. Now that he’s a big ninth grader, he came back for a follow-up.
Shane: The last time we talked, I hadn’t planned on writing a sequel to “Time Snap.” But you sort of got me thinking about it and, well, here we are.
Max: I was so excited to read it! And thanks for the free copy, by the way.
Shane: No problem.
Max: So you said you did a lot of things differently this time. What did you mean by that?
Shane: When we talked before, I told you that I always write my first drafts longhand, then type it into the computer later. With “Time Crunch,” I sat down in front of the computer and started typing. And I didn’t print out any pages or do any editing until I had the whole thing done.
Max: Was it hard doing it that way?
Shane: No, it was actually kind of fun. I didn’t write an outline or anything, so I didn’t really know where the story was going. I’d get up every morning excited to get to work to find out what was going to happen.
Max: You really didn’t know?
Shane: Not a bit. The characters would get into trouble or find themselves in a jam, and I’d start writing faster than ever just to find out what they were going to do about it. It was pretty exciting. I mean, for me it was like a reader going through it for the first time. I didn’t know what was going to happen next and I couldn’t wait to find out.
Max: So did everything turn out the way you thought?
Shane: I’m not sure, since I really had no idea how things were going to turn out. But there was one character I was sure was going to be a bad guy. I had in my mind that he’d turn out to be a jerk, and I kept waiting for him to do something mean, but he never did. So that really surprised me.
Max: There are a lot more dinosaurs in this book . . .
Shane: Oh, yeah. Like I said, I didn’t set out to write a series. But once I realized how much people liked the dinosaurs, I thought I’d better get back to work. So this one is set in the Mesozoic Era, and aside from the people all the main characters are dinosaurs.
Max: You said this is going to be a series?
Shane: It is now. The third book, “Time Jam,” will be out in October, and there will be at least one more after that.
Max: That’s awesome!
Shane: Yeah, I’m pretty excited. Like I said, it sorta just happened, but I’m happy with the way things are going.
Max: Is it a series that you have to read in order?
Shane: No, I’ve tried to write each book so that it stands alone. I’d like to think someone could pick up the second or third book and jump right into the story. And then maybe like it enough they might go back and read the others.
Max: Is it hard doing that?
Shane: It’s not hard, but I have to keep reminding myself there might be readers who don’t know the whole backstory, and I don’t want them to get lost.
Max: Can I back up a little bit?
Max: You said you wrote this on your computer . . . what did you do next?
Shane: I’m a brutal editor. Once I had a first draft, I printed it and then went to work editing and polishing and rewriting and trying to make it better.
Max: But you didn’t do that on the computer?
Shane: No, to me it’s just different when it’s on paper. But having a hard copy lets me do the editing wherever I want. I take my dog mountain biking in the hills every morning–well, I bike and she runs–and when we get back I’ll pull out a chair and work on my books for a while. And we go camping a lot too. But I’ve always got my pages with me, and I try to get a lot of work done while we’re out in the hills.
Max: So you wrote about dinosaurs called “Siats?”
Shane: Siats meekerorum. It was discovered in Utah and was named after a mythical man-eating monster in Ute mythology. Siats means, “man-eating monster.”
Max: Sounds wicked.
Shane: It’s a good name . . . almost as good as “Lythronax.” That one means, “King of Gore.”
Max: That sure paints a picture.
Shane: I know, right? That’s one of the fun things about dinosaurs.
Max: So, you must have a lot of fun doing this . . .
Shane: You have no idea. I mean, writing can be a lot of work, and when I’m editing and polishing and trying to make things as good as I possibly can, sometimes I’ll agonize over a single sentence, trying to get it just right. But overall it’s a blast. I’m just really having a good time.
Max: And “Time Jam” will be out next month?
Shane: It’s gonna be tight. But that’s what I’m shooting for.
Max: So, um . . .
Shane: Are you going to get another free copy?
Max: Am I?
Shane: Count on it.