The Wellington Alternate: Interview with Author Oliver Dace

Oliver Dace
“The Wellington Alternate” is the debut novel of author Oliver Dace. Born in the Philippines, Oliver now resides in Wellington, New Zealand, which serves as a forefront location in many of his stories.

“The Wellington Alternate” is the debut novel of author Oliver Dace. Born in the Philippines, Oliver now resides in Wellington, New Zealand, which serves as a forefront location in many of his stories. Oliver’s writing style is firmly rooted in magical realism, the imagery he paints with words describe worlds that are both familiar and fantastical and woven together seamlessly. Stepping into one of Oliver’s stories is akin to entering a new dimension and so it is very befitting that his first novel is titled “The Wellington Alternate.”

“The Wellington Alternate” tells the story of eighteen-year-old Merinette Dace Nadean who comes from a magical family who are tasked with maintaining a centuries-old tradition of controlling various surreal entities that live in Wellington. These entities—called Fiction—can only be seen by people with Merinette’s powers yet Merinette is more interested in being an academic than a glorified maintenance worker, a life she perceives as a chore. Originating from an airplane seat in August 2014, The Wellington Alternate is a story involving floating stars, family, friendship and the extraordinary ordinary.

Oliver attributes his fascination with Horror and Magical Realism as being what led him to develop an addiction to the taste of words. Oliver currently works, is studying to be a teacher at university, and enjoys pondering philosophical questions. He recently discussed his book via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for writing and how did that lead you to the genres of horror and magical realism?

Oliver Dace (OD): It began when I was around seven when I wrote a poem about a spotted whale. There was no such thing as a spotted whale and, so too, was an extinct giant dragon duck that I created. It would have been a poetry collection featuring my creatures. I always have had a passion for creating stories whether it came in the form of a fantasy world, a black cat ghost story or a detective story with a paranormal twist. I don’t know. Pursuit of creativity? An unceasing imagination? Escapism within? I could say that I was addicted to the taste of words. Specifically, I enjoyed blending the fantastical with the real which allowed me to narrow my writing either within the horror or Magical Realism genre. Both sides of the same coin. I enjoyed writing horror because it allowed me to twist reality. I enjoyed writing Magical Realism because it allowed me to spice-up reality.

MM: How did your childhood impact your creativity?

OD: I went to a private school that strove to have its students speak English. I remembered that they were quite strict, especially during class times and the only time we speak our native dialect was either before or after school. Also, when there were no teachers around. There was something sophisticated with English, particularly in its written form. There were no proper libraries in my hometown – it was after I arrived in New Zealand that I visited one for the first time – and one reason why I liked writing was to capture that level of sophistication. Maybe the lack of libraries forced my brain to say, “You know what? We’ll create our mental library.”

MM: You live in Wellington, New Zealand. Why do you also make this location so prominent in your fiction?

OD: It makes me feel a sense of home. I may have spent half of my life in New Zealand, but I always felt that my real home was the province where I grew up. I guessed the reason why my stories are prominently based in Wellington is that I am trying to set my roots here. Imaginatively, at least. As such, when I started at the local harbour and imagined stars floating on the water, I could tell myself, “You are making creative roots in this country.”

MM: You got the initial idea for this novel while you were on an aeroplane, so how exactly did the concept come about?

OD: I don’t know. That was the best part. What was better was that I was already committed to another project which featured a race of carnivorous humanoid winged creatures waging a war to expand their hunting grounds. However, something was alluring when I looked outside the aeroplane window and imagined giant goldfish swimming underneath the city on transparent glass ground. It could be my own “Welcome Back” present.  I imagined that it was a “Welcome Back” present after some time overseas.

MM: How long did it take you to complete this novel, and how did you find a publisher?

OD: An eight-year journey that culminated in a story about an academic that was eaten by an egg ended up with rejection after rejection. It would have been fantastic for an agent to take up my manuscript but after two months of receiving continuous dismissals, I decided to publish the book myself.

Oliver DaceMM: How similar to, are different from, are you from your characters?

OD: The main difference was that the characters are from the opposite sex. I’ve done a challenge on whether I can write an authentic female character. Regarding similarities, I could say at this point that the characters have a dose of my personality. One of my characters, for example, is homesick and her main goal is a longing to go back home.

MM: What’s your favourite thing about this novel and why?

OD: My favourite things about the novel are the characters and the imagery. One of my goals is to create a character (through their goals or personalities) that can stand outside the realm of the plot. Similarly, I enjoy creating vivid imagery scenes so that when the readers open the book, they can “see” what they are reading.

MM: What have been the highlights of your career as an author so far?

OD: It’s just starting. At the moment, delving through the business and organizational side of writing proved to be an anxious and a good challenge.

MM: You are currently at university where you are studying to be a teacher. How, if at all, do that career aspiration and your writing influence one another?

OD: I hope to go home and inspire future writers. At the same time, I would love to create a Magical Realism novel set in my home region.

MM: What have been some of the most memorable comments and/or feedback that you’ve received about your work?

OD: One of my favourite comments was from a beta reader who commented that the characters have a lot of personalities and very different goals. In summary, they’re pretty well written. Another beta reader commented, I enjoyed the book a lot; it is well written, has terrific, fully 5 worked out characters, and lots of conflicts. It is inventive and entertaining.

MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?

OD: I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to be showcased in this interview especially when I started this journey to create stories where the words taste delicious.

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The book will be released on August 20, 2022.To learn more about Oliver Dace, visit his official website: