Recently, I was interviewed by Ruty of Reading…Dreaming. She’s an avid reader from Uruguay who wanted to learn more about my approach to The Day Eight Series. She asked some great questions. Here is the first half of the interview:
Ruty: Why did you decided to write THE DAY EIGHT SERIES?
Ray: In high school, almost 20 years ago, I read George Orwell’s 1984. The main character, Winston, decides to keep a journal, “For the future, for the unborn,” when the mere act of even thinking about keeping a journal in his world was punishable by death. I was so moved that I began keeping a daily journal myself.
I decided to write The Day Eight Series because I had a deep desire to share an engaging story with readers, but also to share ideas – ideas that might have the power to alter the way readers think about their world.
Ruty: What was your inspiration? And, how long did it take you to write it?
That was back in about 2000 when I had the idea. I started writing in November, 2005, for the NaNoWriMo. That got me 34,000 words into the story – enough that my wife could read it and tell me that I should keep writing when I’d been doubting myself (interestingly, she had been expecting not to like it). The entire series is over 186,000 words. It took me 5 years to write the full first draft, then another 18 months to get feedback, edit, and revise. It took me so long to write because I had to juggle it with my full time job (as a video game designer on The Sims games) and also because I was learning how to organize and write a compelling novel at the same time.
Ruty: Why did you decided to divide the story into three parts? (A great decision if you ask me.)
The second reason was price. This let me charge very little for each part – especially the first part, which is $0.99, but also which I’ve given away for free on many occasions (over 10,000 people have downloaded it free, and it was the #1 Free Amazon Kindle Technothriller during Labor Day weekend). I want to be able to suck in as many readers as possible.
Ruty: Was it easy to imagine the kind of technology and resources that exist in the books?
One of the experiences I used from my own life was an interview I had with the NSA in college. I was interviewing for a computer science position. They told me, “People don’t work for us because of the salaries. They work for us because of the technology. Our computers are 10 years ahead of the industry.” That idea alone got me imagining what else might be out there already, and you’ll remember a similar line from near the end of Part 1, The Reborn.
Ruty: Did you find it hard to find the words to make it easy for the readers to understand the laws of physics and all the technological argument in the story?
Some of the heaviest revision after getting draft readers was focused on the longer technical sections. I revised a lot and cut large chunks that went too deep into detail. And I mostly pulled it off – I’ve had readers telling me they never knew they’d like this kind of story. But the few pages where Ezra creates a bubble in her universe that begins to break down physics… that is still too detailed for some readers, but I was too in love with that section to chop it, and it makes the story and world much deeper for those who follow it.
Ruty: What was it like creating Ezra? How was the process of creating a super-intelligent being?
I liked imagining how someone would live if they had total control over their environment and could change it with their mind – how would they have fun? What would they aspire to? And what would they think of us?
I also wanted to foreshadow Ezra’s eventual fate so that reading Day Eight a second time would be enjoyable in new ways as readers picked up on some her layers. For example, even her very first line of dialog in the prologue is significant.