What Inspired Katya de Becerra to Write Oasis

January 6, 2020 | 4:00 PM

What Inspired Katya de Becerra to Write Oasis

By Katya de Becerra
I first drafted Oasis during the 2014 National Novel Writing Month, while my debut novel was on submission to publishers. It was an anxious time in my life, and the only way I could make myself feel better was, of course, by writing another book. After setting my genre-bending debut, What The Woods Keep, in the beautiful woods of Colorado, I wanted to try something different for my next project. I don’t remember the exact moment I decided to write a genre-bending supernatural thriller set in the desert—though, in hindsight, it was inevitable. Given my undying love for archaeology and my training and experience as a cultural anthropologist, it was only a matter of time before I’d write an “archaeology book.” For most archaeology geeks (myself included), archaeology would likely bring up associations with Ancient Egypt and the related discipline of Egyptology which developed specifically to study that region’s long and fascinating history. But a serendipitous trip to Dubai a few years before I started writing Oasis was a catalyst for me to expand my horizons, archaeological and otherwise. During that short but eventful trip, I experienced a sandstorm (a minor but nonetheless very scary one), enjoyed a walk outside on a sizzling 113F (45C) day, gazed upon the mighty dunes which stretched in all directions and wavered in the heat, and, most importantly, spotted a tiny oasis in the middle of nowhere. After returning home and healing my sunburns, I knew I had to set my archaeology book in Dubai. To get started, I read everything I could find about active excavation sites in the region as well as about archaeology in general, its current challenges and recent breakthroughs. I wanted Oasis to be an adventure novel at its core. After all, I grew up on The Mummy and Indiana Jones. But I also knew I wanted to keep exploring genre-bending—this time in the context of survival in a hostile environment. Having been obsessed with Lost in my younger years, I’ve also always been interested in how group dynamics function in a crisis situation, when people face stressful scenarios and their decisions are potentially life-and-death. Hence, Oasis got shaped and started to evolve. As authors, we tend to leave a little piece of ourselves in every character we write, and I definitely have a lot in common with Alif Scholl, the narrator of Oasis. Alif is a dreamer but also a very practical, realistic person. She means well but perhaps she’s not the best communicator at times. Just like Alif struggles with some important questions about herself and what she wants to be, I also took a while to understand what I wanted to do with my life and whether it was indeed what I really wanted or what was expected of me. Though the strange and increasingly disturbing events that unfold in Oasis are seen through Alif’s eyes (meaning, we’re subject to her bias and interpretations), there are other views at play, which compete with and challenge one another. By doing that, I wanted to explore the notion of reality and how it’s subjective and defined by our context, our needs, and our desires. But, of course, I’d like to leave it to readers to seek their own answers to the questions I pose in Oasis. Specifically, what really happened to Alif and her friends in the desert...

Oasis by Katya de Becerra

In this young adult thriller, a group of teens are saved when they come across a mysterious oasis. But who will save them from the oasis? Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archeological dig site in the desert with four close friends... and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit. 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, and 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 each other, 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... Start writing now.  


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