Friday, May 21, 2010

Freestyle Friday, This just in: We're under attack by...Killer Cows?

The Oasis is under attack by Killer Cows and this man is to blame. Father, husband, and educator of Middle schoolers in Oregon.  Let us welcome author D. M. Anderson and his…cow.

                        (Your guess is as good as mine as to which one is which.)

How long have you been writing? Was it always a passion or was it a craft you slowly grew to love?†

I've been writing most of my life, really. It's always been a passion, but it took me a long time to appreciate the writing process itself. Before, I wrote with the hopes of getting published. Now I write the types of stories that I would personally want to read. If someone else does, great! If not, then I've gotten in some good practice.

Any insider tips for stress-release after a grueling day of writing, editing, or waiting for news? †

Yeah. For one thing, don't ever wait for news. When you submit a query or manuscript, try to forget about it (which is almost impossible, by the way). If you are good, know you are good on your own terms, not by someone else's gauge. Worry about pleasing others later.

As a husband, father, and middle school teacher, how do you balance that part of your life with writing?

       I'm lucky that my family understands that there's a certain portion of my life set aside for me, and I wish to use it writing. They are respectful of that, and in return, I have changed my routine from trying to get a certain number of pages written to quitting after a couple of hours, regardless of how much I've completed. And to be honest, sometimes being forced to quit right in the middle of something helps make it easier to return to it the next day, because I can't wait to get to it again.

Do your students know you’re a writer? If so, are they your test subjects?

They do, and when I complete manuscripts, I do ask for a couple volunteers to read them and offer honest opinions (for no grade...just a favor). And I try to select the students least interested in me as a person, and more into reading in general. I often gauge how long it takes for kids to read the book to determine its worth. If a kid takes weeks to read it, then I'm convinced there's some work to be done on the manuscript. If they return it the next day, having read the whole thing, then I feel like I'm onto something.

Can you tell us a little about your writing process?

       I try to write a few hours each day, whether I feel like it or not. Sometimes something cool develops; sometimes I end up hitting the delete button. I seldom start with an outline for a story, preferring to see if I want to follow the characters I create. If I personally like the premise and the characters, then I'll start mapping out the whole thing. That's where the fun begins.

Any writing advice for aspiring authors?

Write for yourself, not a market. Write the kind of stuff you would want to read, even if you think no one else will. And remember, almost nobody's first novel is ever published...very likely, the only person who will ever enjoy your first novel is you. And that's okay. My first novel was a violent, dumb and vulgar piece of garbage called "Bunnies from Hell." It sits safely hidden from the world in my desk drawer, and every now and then I'll pull it out and re-read it and thank God it wasn't my first published book, because some of what I wrote was embarrassing.

Congratulations on the recent release Killer Cows.  I’ve read the whole thing and I was hooked! You have an amazing voice for the YA genre, how did you find your style?†

       I didn't find my style. It found me. I was once trying to be the next Stephen King, and would never have pursued the YA genre if I wasn't a teacher first. Only after teaching did I realize that YA fiction is the most diverse of all genres. I mean, look at the diversity out there...Stephanie Meyer, J. K. Rowling, Gordon Korman, Jerry Spinelli, Meg Cabot. The one thing they all have in common is their style of writing, which appeals to young adults because they do more showing than telling, something lacking in a lot of 'adult' writing. I found that my own personal 'style' was more conducive to YA fiction. Maybe, through the years of teaching, I subconsciously changed the way I wrote my stories. Or maybe, and this is how I like to think of my work, I was always meant to write for young adults, simply because I never really grew up myself.

Of all the docile creatures you could have chosen, why cows?

Because cows are funny animals, the way they look, stand, stare, chew cud and essentially do nothing all day. To me, there's something amusing about that. And even though they are the last animals you'd think would try to take over the world, God knows there's enough of them that they could if they wanted to. Besides, someone beat me to the punch in the 70s by making a horror film about killer rabbits.

You’ve said that you wanted this book to have a “B” movie flavor to it, is there any reason for that?

       Who doesn't love a good (or bad) B movie? There's something cool about sitting down to watch or read a story you already know is ridiculous from the get-go, yet you enjoy it for those very reasons. They aren't meant to be admired; they are meant to be enjoyed. I guess the best recent example I can give is, as much as I admired a film like "Avatar," I enjoyed a cheap movie called "Mega-Shark vs. Giant Octopus" a lot more. I wanted to cross that B movie mentality with the type of realistic young adult fiction my students like to read.

Do you have any plans for a sequel?  And if so, when do you think we might see it?  (Soon I hope.  (*wink, wink, nudge, nudge*))

              I do have at least one sequel planned, tentatively titled, "Apocalypse Cow," which follows the same characters a year later, once again facing these dreaded cows, with a little time travel thrown in. I'd love for it to be my next novel, but that depends on how successful "Killer Cows" is.

Do you have any other works you’d like to share with us?

        I'm trying to place my second novel, "Shaken," with an agent. This one is inspired by the disaster novels and movies I loved as a kid (and still do), only told strictly from the prospective of teenagers. As much as I loved those movies and books, I hated that most of the kids portrayed were either completely stupid, or so obnoxious I wanted them to die. "Shaken" is an attempt to portray teenagers as they really are, thrown into a situation beyond their control.

Did you find it easier or harder to place your work, since it was written in a ale P.O.V.?

       Granted, my experience in placing young adult fiction is limited, but it hasn't been an issue so far. I don't think the P.O.V. is as important as whether or not the characters are intriguing, regardless of who wrote about them.

And one last BONUS QUESTION:

If you could pick one place, anywhere, for an Oasis, where would it be?

       Disneyland. If money were never an object, I'm pretty certain my family and me could venture there every day and be happy. It's also the inspiration for the YA horror novel I'm currently writing, and I wouldn't mind at all revisiting there for further ideas.

The cover of your book is truly awesome!  Giving it that B-movie flavor you strived so hard to create.
(From D.M.'s website and

Killer cows! They’re big! They’re angry! They smell bad! They’re coming!

The only thing standing in their way is a lonely 14-year-old, whether he’s ready or not...

Randy Meyer is the new kid in Satus Creek, a tiny farm town where nothing ever happens, and his days are filled with tedium. Then one summer afternoon, a meteor crashes nearby. It’s just the first in a series of events that will not only change his life, but threaten the entire planet. Soon after, vicious cows are on the rampage all over the country, and they’re not of this Earth!

Armed with a newly-discovered flying saucer he doesn’t know how to fly, and a misfit group of new friends he doesn’t entirely trust, Randy is forced to grow up fast if he’s going to make decisions that will not only help him fit-in with his new peers, but save the world from a fate worse than death!

Thank you D.M. for sharing your time and cows with us on The Oasis.  Good luck and happy writing.
~J.A. Souders, on behalf of the Oasis Team.

Want to learn more of the menace attacking our humble planet?  You can visit D. M. and his terrifying creatures at his blog, or best of all…buy his book.


  1. JA, major awesome interview. I adore his attitude. Got to get me some of that.

    The book cover is so appealing, even though I'm looking up the nostrils of a cow. I love it.

  2. Sheri, I KNOW. I fell in love with the book based on the cover, hoping the book would be just as good. It was BETTER. He's an awesome writer and I'm so glad I got to share him with the rest of the world. :)

  3. That is the coolest cover I have ever seen. "B-Movie" is the perfect way to describe it. The only way it could have been more B-Movie-ish is if it had Roger Corman's name on it.

  4. Oops. I meant to comment yesterday. This interview is so cool and book looks fantastic. Great job.

  5. Sounds great! Thanks Jessica! :)

  6. What about a sequel with crazy cows and rabid rabbits trying to take over the WHITEHOUSE....kind of like a bit of MEN IN BLACK mixed in..?

    FAB interview DM - LOVE that cover. Definitely appealing to kids - they have a thing with nostrils and all related subjects!


  7. BTW - I think that DM Anderson is the one with 2 legs in the picture - am I right? Is there a prize for guessing correctly?



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