Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Welcome back to Fanbase Press! On the heels of your recent release of Bent Heavens, you have a new release slated for September called They Threw Us Away. For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise, and what inspired you to tell this multipart story (in the Teddies Saga)?
Daniel Kraus: This series is my homage to Richard Adams’s Watership Down, which greatly affected me as a young reader. I was so impressed by how Adams paired a big, sweeping, Lord of the Rings-type plot with, well, a bunch of rabbits. The fact that the rabbits weren’t powerful wizards or soldiers made their adventures all the more incredible. In the Teddies Saga, I go even further. Rabbits may be vulnerable, but teddy bears are really vulnerable.
In They Threw Us Away, four Furrington-brand teddy bears wake up in a landfill, with the last thing they remember being that they were on store shelves. They are fully unequipped to survive in the trash dump, much less the greater world, but they gather their courage and set off on a three-book journey to find out what they did that was so terrible.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in not only bringing this story to life, but also working with illustrator Rovina Cai to bring visuals to the project?
DK: Although each book in this series is not particularly long, I approached it the same as I did my epic novels—the Zebulon Finch duology and The Living Dead. I did an extensive outline that sketched out the broader strokes of the teddies’ trek and discoveries and where I might reveal, piece by piece, vital pieces of their backstories.
Rovina was absolutely my first choice as illustrator. Her art balances on that edge of pretty and scary. I had input on the general subjects of her illustrations, but her genius is entirely her own.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Buddy’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
DK: The overall theme of the Teddies Saga is that we are able to move on from the bad things that have happened to us. It’s not easy, and perhaps the process will involve significant struggle. But if we pull together, we can overcome our trauma and be new people—or new teddies.
BD: What makes Holt the perfect home for They Threw Us Away?
DK: Simply put, Holt is where my beloved editor, Christian Trimmer, works. They Threw Us Away is our fifth book together. I don’t write safe books; I’m always pushing at what is normally found in books for youth. Better than anyone I’ve worked with, Christian understands the kind of writer I am. He never tries to change me or dull my edges; he’s there to sharpen my edges and make sure my stories land in the best way possible.
BD: As this is Book One of the Teddies Saga, is there anything that you can share with readers about Buddy’s future adventures?
DK: I can tell you it’s not going to get much easier for the teddies! This is not a series where things are going to work out for every character. In the second book, the teddies are going to encounter the last thing they’d ever expect to find—and one of them is going to be tempted away from the others.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DK: Aside from book 2 and 3 of the Teddies Saga, I have my first comic book starting at the end of September 2020. It’s called The Autumnal. It’s a scary comic for adults.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about They Threw Us Away and your other work?
DK: My website is danielkraus.com. That’s always the best place to start!