Saturday, February 4, 2012

Author Spotlight- David Estes

Welcome to the second Author Spotlight of the year. I'm happy to introduce David Estes to you. I've had some time to get to know David. Here's a little bit about him:

Thank you, David for joining us in this week's Author Spotlight. I had the chance to interview him and I think you'll enjoy it! 

1. Please tell the readers a bit more about you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to review my book and interview me. I was born in El Paso, Texas, but my family moved to Pittsburgh when I was very young. I grew up in the Steel town and am a fierce Penguins and Steelers fan. A loss by one of them is like a dagger through my heart (although being halfway around the world slightly eases the pain nowadays ;). I went to college at Penn State and studied accounting and then got a job at one of the big accounting firms. Accounting never really excited me but it was a “safe” job. In the back of my mind, I always had this crazy notion that someday I would write books for a living, but I always found some excuse not to write. I moved to Sydney two and a half years ago for work and met my wife, who helped convince me to start writing. Now she can’t get me to stop!

I love, love, love reading and I will never stop no matter how busy I am. I sneak it in whenever I can. My wife calls me ‘Brick’, after the child character from the TV show The Middle. In the show, Brick is constantly reading no matter where he is. That’s me. We’ll be watching TV and then a commercial will come on and Adele will run back into the kitchen to get a drink, and when she comes back, I will have my book out, trying to sneak in a page before the show comes back on! So while I don’t have nearly as much time as I used to because I work full time in addition to my writing, I still manage to read enough to satisfy my addiction.

2. What types of books do you write?
Currently I write fiction books for a younger audience, both Young Adult’s and Children’s. Fantasy, dystopian, paranormal, superhero: I like books that tickle the imagination and allow kids and teens (and even adults) escape from reality into worlds where amazing things are possible.

3. Who's your main audience?
Primarily young adults at the moment, because the three books I’ve published, the Evolution Trilogy (Angel Evolution, Demon Evolution, and Archangel Evolution) are aimed at young adults. Most of the YA industry targets females at the moment, and my books probably do too, but I hope my books will appeal to guys and girls because they are full of action and suspense.

However, I hope to have a published children’s series in the near future too. The series will be aimed at 7-10 year olds.

4. When it comes to writing- what are your strong points? What are your weaknesses?
I feel my biggest strength is my imagination. I have so many book ideas that I’ll never have enough time to write them all! I’m pretty good at moving the plot along, creating entertaining action scenes, and building suspense. Early on, I’ve struggled with character development a bit, but I’ve gotten better with every book I’ve written.

5. What do you think of this term- Writer's Block? How do you overcome it?
To be honest, I find the writing part quite easy. I have a nutty imagination that works overtime, so I don’t really get writer’s block or anything like that. My wife always says how she’s amazed how I can just sit down and start writing. I read the last paragraph or page that I wrote, and just get going. I don’t worry too much about getting every word perfect, that’s what rewriting and editing is for; rather I focus on moving the plot along, feeling the emotions of the characters, and enjoying the ride. Occasionally, I will just have a little trouble getting started at the beginning of a writing session, but it’s usually because I’m not in the right state of mind. To fix it all I need to do it listen to a song I like or read a book I’m enjoying. That’s it!

6. How many books have you written?
I’ve just finished my 9th book! I’m completely shocked by how much I’ve been able to accomplish in only 16 months. A year and a half ago I would’ve been satisfied if I could’ve written 1 book in that amount of time. They’re not all published, but I’m working towards publishing them all. Here’s the list:

1. Angel Evolution
2. Demon Evolution
3. Archangel Evolution

4. A YA novel about a boy with a very unique disability and one hell of a sense of humor who meets loads of interesting teenagers on a suspenseful yet funny adventure to uncover the truth about the father he never knew. I am seeking an agent for this novel but am still open to self-publishing it if I am unsuccessful.

5,6,7,8. The first four books in a children's series aimed at kids between the ages of 7 and 10. It's a classic superhero story about a girl who meets a strange animal who leads her to a treasure chest in the middle of the forest. The chest contains a gift that allows the girl to perform miraculous feats. I have another two books planned for the series, which I will be working to complete in 2012. The first book in the series is currently being reviewed by a large children's book publisher.

9. A YA post-apocalyptic dystopian thriller written from the perspective of two characters in alternating chapters. Without giving two much away, the two characters (one male and one female) come from very different walks of life, but are thrust together unexpectedly. As their lives intertwine, they must seek to bring balance to a world that is out of control. I’ll be seeking an agent and publisher for this book over the next few months.

7. How many are published?
Just three so far, the Evolution Trilogy (Angel Evolution, Demon Evolution, and Archangel Evolution). Available now everywhere e-books are sold and in print on Amazon. My wife displays them on our coffee table!

8. Are you self published or traditionally published?

Interesting question because I turned to self-publishing like so many other authors who get frustrated with the challenges of traditional publishing. Initially, my biggest challenge was to get an agent and/or a publisher. When I finished Angel Evolution, I researched those agents and publishers that would be most likely to take it on. I sent off dozens of one page query letters and began receiving rejections on an almost daily basis. It was tough, but it gave me plenty of time to continue writing the rest of the trilogy, as well as work on some other projects.

I kept querying, kept getting rejected, and then finished the trilogy. I decided I wanted to self-publish after hearing about how much easier it was to do these days and how some authors were having considerable success with it (eg Amanda Hocking—as an aside, it is my goal to be the male author version of her!). So I hired a cover artist, edited my books to death, utilized beta readers to improve them (resulting in some awesome changes to characters and to the ending of the entire trilogy), and learned the ins and outs of formatting your book for e-book and print. Two long, busy months later I released the entire trilogy on Amazon in print and everywhere e-books are sold!

It was amazing to see my work in print and available on various sites and it has been the coolest experience to read reader reviews, watch the number of fans on my Facebook page grow (I get excited every time the counter goes up by even 1 Like), get Twitter followers, write new posts on my blog (and actually get comments!). All in all, despite the challenges, the publishing process has been so rewarding. That being said, I am absolutely going to continue to seek a publisher for the other books I have written!

9. What's the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Being patient! When I have so many ideas I just want to get them all out and into books! When I get close to the end of a book I’m always tempted to rush through to finish it, but I need to tell myself to slow down and make sure I finish it properly.

I also have a lot of trouble with the editing/proofreading part. I always want to move onto the next project, rather than spending considerable time editing and rewriting. I rely heavily on my beta readers to help me improve my books.

10. What type of books do you enjoy reading?

All types of fiction really, but my favorite at the moment are YA dystopian books like The Hunger Games or Divergent. But I also love fantasy like Lord of the Rings or Eragon. Of course, I don’t mind a little Middle-Grade too, like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson!

11. Who's your favorite Author?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but at the very top of the list are authors like Dean Koontz and J.R.R Tolkien. Tolkien was my favorite author as a child, while Koontz became a favorite of mine later in life. Each of them have an uncanny ability to weave words into a book, like threads into a tapestry. I have also been inspired recently by Suzanne Collins, who has seemingly come out of nowhere to gain immense popularity. She’s a great storyteller, which is what I hope to be.

12. What's your all time favorite book?
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, although the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy isn’t too far behind.

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