Interview with Zachariah Wahrer

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love rock climbing and being outdoors, so when I'm not writing, that's usually what I'm up to. I actually just finished a year long rock climbing road trip across the United States and Canada with my wife. Other than that, I also enjoy playing video games (mostly for the storytelling and social aspects), Dungeons & Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Arizona, near the town of Prescott. My 5th-grade teacher instilled a love of science in me, which is one of the major reasons why I love sci-fi so much. I'm also a dreamer, a "what-if"er, and when you combine that with a knowledge of science, you end up with a ​sci-fi author.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was actually just looking through some of my old work yesterday and came across a picture book I wrote in grade school called "Sending Monkeys to Space". The story line was decent (for a 5th grader), but the illustrations were pretty bad. Basically, a scientist develops a plan to send a bunch of chimps to space. After a short period of time in the space shuttle, the monkeys develop superintelligence and revolt. The shuttle is crippled and everyone is forced to reunite in order to fix it. With a better title and illustrations, it might make it onto​ the bestseller lists...
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I think the first story I remember that had an impact on me was "My Side of the Mountain", by Jean George. The story really illustrated to me the freedom you could find in the world if you were willing to be different (and sometimes uncomfortable). I know I read many things before that, but "My Side of the Mountain" really stands out in my mind. It got me started on a whole genre of fiction I didn't know existed and created a desire to be self-sufficient and able to handle myself in any situation.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing fiction in high school, but it was pretty bad and I didn't feel like I had any talent for it. I became interested in creating music and played in a punk rock band for several years. After getting bored with that style, I started an experimental rock group that incorporated a sci-fi story in its lyrics. We played for a bit before our guitarist ended up going to jail. The band sort of fell apart after that. I was left with a desire to keep writing sci-fi, however, so I began writing books again. I really credit my time writing songs as giving me the confidence to write sci-fi novels.
What is your writing process?
For me, writing is a combination of force and calmness. Sometimes, I have to power through certain sections and make the characters do as I want them to. Other times, I need to be still and let them speak to me. This yin-yang aspect also carries over to my workspace. Sometimes I work at home or in a coffee shop with headphones blasting Tool, BT, or Buddhist chants. Other days, I like to sit in a park or other outdoor space and listen to the wind.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I try to write my fiction as scientifically factual as possible. This can create problems for both me and my characters. I end up doing a lot of research into physics, engineering, astronomy, technology, medicine, and just about any other scientific field you can think of. The joy for me is when I discover a scientifically possible solution to a problem my world or characters are facing. I really love doing the research though, so that's enjoyable too!
How do you approach cover design?
I do my own cover art through a process of digital photo manipulation. I start with a concept of what I'd like to portray, and since I'm awful at freehand drawing, I take a photo of something. For "Breakers of the Dawn" it was a street light on a foggy evening. I import the photo into GIMP, and then begin manipulating it using a myriad of filters, trying to portray the concept in my mind. For "Breakers" it was a ​supernova or wormhole effect. I try to design covers that are integrated with the storyline, without being too overt.
What do your fans mean to you?
I spend a lot of time typing on a keyboard and thinking about things that don't, and never will, exist in reality. Without people to read what I've written, it's meaningless. I enjoy the process of writing, of course, but without a reader the cycle is incomplete. Things are created so that they can be enjoyed. The people that participate in this process with me are invaluable. Without them I couldn't do what I do.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Dark Tower Series, by Steven King. The way King incorporates the real world (and himself) into the Dark Tower is fantastic. The story felt so real, like I could walk through a door and end up standing next to the Gunslinger.

2. The Wheel of Time Series, by Robert Jordan. I love how complex the story line is in WoT. Jordan keeps so many threads going at the same time, as well as adding new ones.

3. Deep Survival, by Laurence Gonzales. I keep reading this book over and over because it provides amazing insight into my own mind. It always gives me a ​deeper understanding about my own motivations and feelings as well as a new view of the world around me.

4. The Saga of Seven Suns Series, by Kevin J. Anderson. Much like the Wheel of Time for me, but sci-fi instead of fantasy. Anderson has that same ability to keep complex plots straight and engaging.

5. Contact, by Carl Sagen. This book really struck a chord in me. Sagen brings out so much humanity in his characters. I empathized with Ellie so much and the story is compelling and believable. If only all sci-fi was this good.
What are you working on now?
Currently, I am working on the Dawn Saga, and will be for some time. There are still three sequels to "Breakers" that need to be written and possibly a prequel. I'm also working on poetry (as I'm inspired) as well as some various short stories.
Published 2015-12-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Amaranth: A Short Story
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 5,360. Language: English. Published: April 11, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Cyberpunk, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Ava, a talented coder for the multi-national Haute Tech Corp., is coping with the death of her fiancée, Liam. Now, six months after his passing, Ava gets a PM from Liam's social media account, claiming it’s him. Ava saw the gruesome accident scene and identified Liam’s corpse, but somehow, the sender has information only he could know. Could Liam be alive, or is it just a sick joke?
Destroyers of the Dawn
Series: Dawn Saga. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 103,870. Language: English. Published: May 4, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
With enemies on all sides, the Harbingers seek to understand their strength. Knowing they cannot face the Breakers head on, Maxar leads Wake and Jaydon to the Traynos system. There, a mysterious archaeological dig holds the key to the nano-tech coursing through his body. Will what he finds be worth the risk of separating the Harbingers?
Flight of the Mariner
Price: Free! Words: 1,980. Language: English. Published: January 15, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural, Fiction » Alternative history
(3.00 from 2 reviews)
When five torpedo bombers disappear off the coast of Florida during a training flight in 1945, Wally and his flight crew are sent to look for them. They head out over the stormy Atlantic in their Mariner seaplane, searching the dark ocean for survivors. They find the downed planes, and with them, something far more sinister.
Harbingers of the Dawn
Series: Dawn Saga. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 103,010. Language: English. Published: January 9, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
The Breakers continue flooding across the Akked Galaxy, stealthy and unstoppable. Their next target: the Founder of the Ashamine. Crasor knows if he can kill the supreme human leader, the Ashamine government will plunge into pandemonium.
Breakers of the Dawn
Series: Dawn Saga. Price: Free! Words: 85,690. Language: English. Published: December 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.33 from 3 reviews)
Humanity has fallen from its once majestic place amongst the stars. Desperate for resources to prop up an aging galactic dynasty, humans seize every planet they find, exterminating their alien inhabitants.
Utopia Gone
Price: Free! Words: 4,580. Language: English. Published: December 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Alone in the world, the man enjoys life. He has no name, nor needs one. Every rock, tree, mountain, and sea: he knows it all in detail. He has no memory of how he arrived on the planet, only a blissful love of his surroundings. When the starship comes, his life makes a dramatic change.