Zero Is The Key

Zero Is The Key - Robert Guerrera

There are a lot of young adult books out there. When I was in high school, I mostly ignored these as they tended to have flaky and unreliable protagonists. Plus, growing up in a Christian school, the "acceptable" reading choices weren't always the greatest of books. 

So I really appreciate when I read a young adult novel that has strong role models for the children leading them. Not only are Declan and Dalya intelligent and responsible, but they also are respectful of others and aren't afraid of trying something new. Their bond as siblings was admirable and I appreciated the lack of a romantic element. 

All of that combined made for a highly enjoyable read that I would gladly hand over to my young adult child (if I had one. . .my 2 year old is a little young for it at this point). 

I thought the plot was excellent and moved along at a steady pace. While the dialogue was a little stiff, I believe that had to do with the scientific nature of it in general. It took a little getting used to that these were not your average slang-talking teens. But once I realized that, I had an easier time with the dialogue. 

Overall it was a fun book and I enjoyed watching the twins piece together the puzzle placed before them. I'm very interested to see where this series goes. 


Some Bio Information

Born in Alaska and raised in California, Robert Guerrera earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at San Jose State University. In 1993, he moved to Texas where he earned teaching certificates in elementary education and in secondary social studies at the University of Texas – Pan American. Ever since, he has been teaching elementary, middle, and high school students.

After teaching in the United States for several years, his traveling itch and curiosity to learn about different cultures led him into an international teaching career. He has lived and worked in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Switzerland. Presently, Robert lives in Switzerland with his wife, two children, and his black cat. He teaches English, history, and geography at a private bilingual school, travels, plays the guitar, and writes.

 


Q&A

1.    Do you have further plans for Declan and Dalya? 

Yes, indeed. Declan and Dalya will have many adventures after this introductory tale featured in ‘Zero Is The Key.’ I am in the process of finishing up research for the initial settings and concepts for the second installment. As the writing process unfolds while the story develops, more research will be needed to respond to the gong that goes off in my head when a major idea shows itself, asking to be enriched and expanded. The second installment will also have the features to stand on its own or be read as a follow up to ‘Zero Is The Key.’

2.    Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? 

Well, for several months ideas for a new story begin to drop into my mind. As time passes, the drops become a small stream, and then a gushing river. When the gushing river begins to overflow, I begin organizing an outline for the story’s plot and settings. Characters begin to reveal themselves somewhere along this process. When most or all of the characters reveal themselves, I develop a character web on paper with pen and pencil. And then, over a year or so, the story commands itself to be written until the first draft is finished. As each chapter is completed, my editor reviews it and gives it back to me for revision. When every chapter has been edited, I then reread the entire story two to three times for further editing. Afterwards, I hand over the third or fourth draft is given to my editor for an overall proofing. When this is finished, my editor and I painstakingly review all of the suggested plot and structural changes together. I then rewrite the changes and then proofread it a final time. The story is now ready to publish...maybe.

3.    Was there a deciding point in your life when you realized you wanted to be an author?

As a child, in the hot summer months, I lived in Mexico. During the mid afternoon’s siesta time, I would pass the time by writing my own superhero comics.  As a teacher, I feel I have always been a writer of sorts since I have had to write reports, newsletters, promotional documents, curriculum, and projects of all types with their rubrics and written student expectations, and other school documents. To model written assignments for students, I have written my own short narratives and other various writing pieces to motivate children to write.. Later, I began telling bedtime adventure stories to my two children every night and would improvise everything. My children loved the stories. One day, I described several of these to my wife. She suggested that I should write a book someday. That was three years ago. And now, my first book has been published.

4.    Describe your favorite place: 

Well, I believe there are special places based on a desire or need at a particular time or phase in one’s life.  A solitude moment  on a beach at sunset is a great time to reflect and ponder one‘s life experiences or to ponder over a difficult situation.  A family gathering around a dinner table is a great time to connect with others. Standing on top of a mountain top or paddling down an isolated part of a river is a great way to explore the wonders of nature. There are many great places based on your desires or needs.

5.    How much time did you spend researching for this book?

Weeks were spent researching for my book’s unique geographical settings. Since I use real yet obscure but fascinating places for my story, the history and physical qualities of my settings must be accurate and must help the story come alive. The settings in my book are actually important major characters of the book that are integral and necessary for the story’s development. For me, the trick on writing realistic fiction is to decide how much factual information is left out of a story. It is more difficult to decide what to leave out than what to leave in. For the first draft, I include a vast amount of facts from my research. During the several revisions and editing sessions, much of the irrelevant information is painstakingly removed. In this case, twenty-five percent of the book’s content was cut in order to prevent the story from being bogged down with wordiness, subplots, and irrelevant details. 

6.    Who is your favorite character in Zero is the Key? 

At the moment, I don’t have a favorite character in the novel. All of the characters are so unique, strange, and lively. I-m fond of all of them, with the exception of the main antagonist. However, I am always rooting for Declan and Dalya. I think as Declan and Dalya develop further in the second book, there may be a favorite.

7.    What is your ultimate writing goal?
 
My ultimate writing goal is to write for me...it is a selfish reason, but I must have a creative outlet to release ideas and thoughts swimming frantically around in my head. Playing music and teaching students are outlets as well, but nothing beats the quiet solitude a writer has with his or her own thoughts, and that inner voice that compels one to pour one’s soul out into the form of a story, an autobiography, a documentary, or any other form of writing. Hopefully, by reading this book and my future books, people may also learn something about our cultural heritage and become even more interested in the fascinating world we live in and the gifts we could benefit from if we treated each other and our planet with more dignity and kindness.