Today I’m really excited to be chatting with Katya de Becerra about her 2020 release Oasis!
If you don’t remember, Katya released What the Woods Keep back in 2018–a genre-bending dark fantasy/sci-fi/contemporary mystery thriller with paranormal elements, and I absolutely adored the genre twisting! (You can read my review here!)
And next year, she has Oasis coming out, another genre-bending story feat. survival, sandstorms, and mysterious happenings. It sounds thrilling and vicious and I’m super excited to dive in.
We talk about Oasis, some of the inspiration, twisty mind thrills, and so much more in the interview! Plus, stay tuned because we’re giving away four copies of Oasis at the end! Enjoy!
Hi Katya! Thank you for joining me today to talk about your books and your upcoming sophomore novel Oasis! I loved reading What the Woods Keep and am so excited for more of your genre-bending thrills in Oasis. Can you first tell us a little bit about Alif and how she ended up in this situation?
Thank you for having me, Vicky, and for all the wonderful work you do for the YA community. I’m super excited to talk today about Oasis!
Alif is the central character and narrator. Both of her parents are archaeologists and she’s an archaeology buff herself. When an opportunity presents itself for Alif to spend some time at her father’s ongoing excavation campaign near Dubai, she jumps at the chance and arranges for her friends to come with her. But this particular site is unlike all the others Alif’s ever been to. It’s plagued by non-stop issues, from malfunctioning equipment to volunteers dropping out in record numbers. Then a terrible desert storm hits the dig site out of nowhere, signalling the end of Alif’s amazing summer and turning her overseas vacation into a surreal nightmare and a desperate struggle for survival.
I mentioned how I loved your genre-bending style–especially with how What the Woods Keep was very contemporary mystery dark fantasy paranormal. Did Oasis being a survival, conspiracy supernatural thriller make the writing process for you change? If so, how?
I find that I always lean toward genre-bending in my books and also find that it comes naturally to me. Having said that, compared to What The Woods Keep, Oasis was an “easier” book to write, in a way. Partly, because I had a very clear idea from the start in regards to what I wanted this book to be and that it’ll be a survival thriller with supernatural themes, and partly because like Alif I’m a complete archaeology buff, so I was super into all those parts of the book where I could just geek out about it. I remember saying to a friend a while ago that after the emotional toll of writing something so dark and psychological as What The Woods Keep, I wanted to write a “fun” book. But then I guess when you read Oasis, you might wonder what my idea of “fun” is, which, I suppose, is a fair question to be concerned with…
I absolutely adore survival stories and Oasis has me so excited to dive into another similar one! What made you choose a sandstorm and a mysterious oasis to set the novel up, especially given the oasis maybe being . . . more dangerous than the sandstorm?
I love survival stories too! Bonus points if survivors are stranded in a strange, isolated place and there’s a hint of supernatural presence. In terms of why sandstorm/oasis… This book was inspired by a specific place that I love. This place is Dubai. I’ve seen it all there: the limitless expanse of the desert, sand dunes, a lush oasis in the middle of a wasteland – all right next to modernity and high-rises. And I’ve actually experienced a sand storm while there, though a minor one, which was still scary. Dubai must’ve left such an impression on me, it felt like a natural thing to set my book there. The site in Oasis where the excavation takes place is a fictionalized one, but it’s inspired by a real place that’s an active dig site.
One line in the summary really intrigued me–”Alif and her friends against one another.” I love how this plays with the contrast between physical conflict (the sandstorm) and the more psychological emotional conflict between the people in the oasis. Was there something specific you included to highlight this juxtaposition?
The exploration of emotional tensions between survivors was something I was particularly interested in when writing Oasis. When we first meet Alif, she’s about to fly out to Dubai and her friends are coming with her. They seem like a very tight group, but as we learn more about them, and as they find themselves in mortal danger having to rely on one another in order to survive, we see their relationships start coming apart at the seams. They are faced with their worst fears and that’s when a person’s true face shows through. I wanted to play on those emotions and see how far I could take it. It was FUN to write. (Sorry to Alif and everyone in this book who had to suffer greatly in the process.)
I know Alif and her friends are in a very high pressure situation, but to get to know them, what type of activities if they weren’t in a dangerous oasis after a sandstorm? If they were just regular teens hanging out and going to school?
Alif had to change schools because of family circumstances and it wasn’t easy for her to make friends again. But slowly, her small but tight circle was formed – the five of them seem like a collection of complete opposites, somewhat misfits, who don’t have a lot in common, but that’s what brought them together. At school, they’d come together at lunch, stand up for one another in difficult situations, and study or just hang out after classes. Though, they’d also spend time in smaller sub-groups/pairs because of their different interests. Alif would gravitate toward some creative pursuits, but she’s also the core that holds the group together, meaning she’d make an effort to locate something for them to do that they’re all interested in.
Honestly, knowing Katya lived through a sandstorm (minor or not) is really exciting, ahah! This makes me really want to pick up my copy right now and get immersed in some top-notch survival storylines. And all the thrills.
Alif sounds like such a cool protagonist and I’m excited to see where it goes! If you enjoyed this interview, please let Katya know on her social channels & check out Oasis before it releases in January 2020!
And stay tuned till the end! I promise it’ll be worth it, heh!
Content warnings can be found here!
More About the Book
The oasis saved them. But who will save them from the oasis?
Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archaeological dig site in the desert with four close friends . . . and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.
With their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed . . . until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.
The answers turn Alif and her friends against one another, and they begin to wonder if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave . . .
Katya de Becerra’s new supernatural thriller hides a mystery in plain sight, and will keep you guessing right up to its terrifying conclusion.
More About the Author
Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, immigrated to Australia in 2006, and now lives in Melbourne. She earned a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Melbourne. She is a mentor with 1st5Pages Writing Workshop, where she provides free critique to help foster new writing talent. Released in 2018, her debut novel What The Woods Keep is a genre-bender combining mystery, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Her second novel Oasis is forthcoming in 2020.
Katya and I have a huge giveaway for y’all–four lucky winners will receive a copy of Oasis!
- One INTL winner will receive a hardcover preorder
- Three US winners will receive an ARC of Oasis
You can enter through the Rafflecopter button below & on Twitter! It ends next Tuesday at 11:59 PM EST, so good luck! And like. Hope you survive the story, hehe!