Welcome, David Estes, thanks for talking to us today and letting us have a little insight into you and your books.
Q: Tell us about Angel Evolution and the Evolution Trilogy
First of all, I just want to thank you, Ann, for inviting me to talk about my books on your awesome site, I truly feel honoured. I am so amazed at how positive the reception has been for my first trilogy! I can only hope it is only the beginning of my writing career!
Now, to Angel Evolution and the Evolution Trilogy, where do I start? Without giving too much away, The Evolution Trilogy is my own spin on the classic angel vs. demon story. To be honest, when I first got the idea for Angel Evolution, I thought I would be leading the angel book trend. By the time I finally published the Evolution Trilogy, there were dozens of angel books out and I was pretty worried that mine would get lost in the shuffle. What I’ve found is that readers have noticed how different my plot is than most others in the genre. I strip out any religious aspect from the story (no fallen angels, no heaven and hell, etc.), and instead create my angels and demons from humans themselves via an evolutionary fluke of sorts.
I’ve tried to keep the reader guessing as to who is really good and who is evil (angel, demons, archangels, gargoyles, etc). I also took the approach of allowing the reader to see many different points of view so they could appreciate the drama taking place amongst the different parties. Other than that, I hope to just entertain my readers with a classic adventure filled with action, suspense, some romance, and a bit of humour.
Q: What’s your genre and why did you choose it?
I write for both the Young Adult and Children’s markets, and the Evolution Trilogy is targeted at lovers of YA Paranormal books. Although I am in the gender minority for authors in the genre, I feel right at home in the space. I am a bit of a romantic, and I prefer writing about younger characters, so it’s a perfect fit for me! Plus, I’ve never really grown up myself, always enjoying reading books across all genres and age groups, so it was just natural that I should write in such a versatile genre. I love paranormal because there are so many opportunities to be creative and to do something that no one has done before.
Q: What’s the biggest obstacle you faced with your writing journey?
Ooh painful memories! 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, Lizzy Ford, Karen McQuestion). So I hired a cover artist, edited my books to death, utilised 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 a 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!
Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?
It’s interesting, inspiration comes at so many different times and in different places that you always have to be ready for it. To be honest, most of my best inspiration comes when I’m writing. I’ll be working on my newest book, in the thick of it, creating battle scenes or laughter or developing my characters, and WHAM! an idea for a completely different book will hit me. I always stop and pop the new idea into my iPhone. Over the course of writing the 9 books I have written so far, I’ve come up with at least three times that many new ideas. They’re all waiting to be written!
Q: Who or what are your influences?
Oh, there are so many authors that I cannot possibly list them here. But at the very top of the list are authors like Dean Koontz and J.R.R Tolkien. Tolkien was my favourite author as a child, while Koontz became a favourite of mine later in life. Each of them has an uncanny ability to weave words into a book, like threads into a tapestry. I have also been inspired recently by Suzanne Collins and Amanda Hocking, who have both seemingly come out of nowhere to gain immense popularity. They are both great storytellers, which is what I hope to be.
Q: Are you self-published, legacy or a combination?
The Evolution Trilogy is self-published, but I am seeking a literary agent for my unpublished works. It’s an exciting time to be an author, as despite how competitive the industry is, I still have the opportunity to get my babies (ie my books!) out there for people to experience and enjoy. I’ve met so many incredible people who started out as strangers and are now huge supporters and good friends. The true goodness of people always amazes me!
Q: What was the hardest part of your self-pub / publishing journey?
Besides dealing with all the rejection from agents and publishers as I mentioned earlier, I suppose it’s just putting all the pieces together on your own. Having beta readers review your book, editing, revising, revising some more, rewriting, hiring a cover artist, formatting for print and e-book, uploading, contacting book bloggers, setting up giveaways and author interviews and guest posts, Facebooking, Tweeting, message boarding: It’s a full time job!! And guess what? Like many other authors, I was holding down another full time job at the same time :) But it was all worth it when I started getting my first reviews and found people who really enjoyed my writing!
I am so fortunate that things have gone well enough that I will be able to start writing full time starting in June of this year. Life is good!
Q: What format are your books available in?
Everywhere except bookstores ha! Print via Amazon.com. E-book on all major sites, including Amazon Kindle, iBooks, Barnes and Nobles NookBooks, and Smashwords.com. They are cheapest as e-books so I recommend grabbing them that way!
Q: How many books have you published so far?
Just the Evolution Trilogy so far, so three, but I’ve got another six unpublished books that I expect to publish this year if I go the self-publishing route!
Q: What things did you outsource, if any at all?
I wish I was a graphic designer, or an artist, or something creative like that. Unfortunately, the extent of my creativity is with words, so I hired both a cover artist, Claudia McKinney at phatpuppyart (she’s amazing by the way), and a book jacket designer (including custom font), who were my friends at Winkipop Designs. It was my wife’s concept that Claudia was able to bring to life on the book covers!
I couldn’t afford a copyeditor for the Evolution Trilogy, so all the editing is my own hard work. I read each book six times, three of which were out loud, to try to pick up any typos and errors, but I would have loved the professional polish a copyeditor could bring. Since I’ve had some success recently, I’ve now hired a copyeditor, Christine LePorte (Lizzy Ford’s copyeditor), so I’m ecstatic to have her as part of my team!
Q: What’s the best bit of advice you received when starting out?
Great question. I think it probably came from my wife, which was to forget about trying to come up with the next big idea, the next Twilight, the next Hunger Games. Take the best idea you have right now and go with it. See where it takes you. If you’re partway through it and you don’t feel like it’s going anywhere, rethink it, perhaps switch to your next best idea. Eventually you’ll find the right one, but never give up. That’s kept me going for 18 months with no signs of stopping anytime soon!
Q: What advice would you offer to the future Debut Authors out there?
I recently wrote a blog post at http://davidestesbooks.blogspot.com about the road to publishing the Evolution Trilogy and I noted three pieces of advice that I think are the most important to those just getting started. Here’s what I said:
· Write every day. Even if it’s only a couple hundred words, it keeps you in your story and makes it easier to pick it up and continue writing. Plus, you’re less likely to forget something and change the storyline or details partway through.
· If you can’t afford a copyeditor (which I couldn’t at the time), get a few eagle-eyed people to review for silly errors. Read it yourself at least five times too! No one likes a book they paid for to have a bunch of typos.
· Use independent beta readers! This is something I didn’t do for Angel Evolution and now wish I did. I asked friends and family to read and provide feedback and I made some good changes from it, but it wasn’t enough. Make friends on sites like Goodreads and ask people to read your unpublished manuscript to provide feedback, particularly around character development, the beginning, the ending, what annoyed them, etc. I wish I would have done this so I could have avoided some of the negative reviews from my readers.
Q: What’s next for you? Any projects in the pipeline for us to look forward to?
My current project is a YA 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’ve finished the first book, which is currently with my copyeditor, and hope to release the entire trilogy in 2012.
I have recently finished a YA novel about a boy with a very unique disability and one hell of a sense of humour 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.
I have also completed 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. I am seeking an agent and publisher for the series.
My remaining projects range from a variety of children's novels from the fantastical to the downright silly, to my next venture into YA fantasy, and to the creation of an adult suspense/mystery series with a strong and interesting male character. I have written the first page of more books than I can count without taking off my shoes!
Q: Any favourite Author that you are a fan of and would recommend?
I’m glad you asked this, and although I’ve mentioned a few of the authors who have inspired me over the years, I fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater’s writing in The Scorpio Races. If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it! I haven’t read her angel series yet, Shiver, but I’m making my way through her faerie books, Lament and Ballad, which I’m quite enjoying. But The Scorpio Races is my favourite.
Q: Give us one of your favourite quotes……………….
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” As I’m sure many of those who read this will know, this is from The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien. There are a million amazing and inspiring quotes out there, but this one has always been my favourite. It was the perfect line for Tolkien’s characters and their story, but the beauty of it is that it can be related to many other books, as well as to real life. Sometimes the first step is the hardest, because once you take it you are out of your comfort zone. But I can promise you that it’s always worth taking anyway :-)
Q: And finally tell us something random about yourself to make us chuckle………………………….
I love this question and there are so many ridiculous things I could tell you about myself. I could tell you about my insane OCD, how I get anxious when I don’t write at least 2,000 words a day, how I am obsessive about following and participating in certain threads on Goodreads, but I won’t. Or I could tell you about how much ping pong I played during college, to the point of obsession, where I was so sweaty after playing that it was like a full aerobic workout, diving and stretching to return the tiny white ball, but I won’t tell you about that either. Instead I’ll tell you about my reading obsession.
I read all the time, but that’s not the funny thing. The funny thing is that 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! I read anywhere and everywhere.
Before we finish, I just want to thank Ann again for the chance to be interviewed for her blog, it’s been awesome. I’d love to hear from my readers or anyone who just wants to chat about books or writing, so please contact me using your favourite method below, I promise to respond :) And if you Friend me on Goodreads, I promise to accept!!
Thanks so much David for joining me on my blog, its been great having you. Congratulations on your success, very deserved. I can't wait for your next works.
You can find David and his books at the links below:-
My blog/website: http://www.davidestesbooks.blogspot.com
My Facebook page/s: http://www.facebook.com/pages/David-Estes/130852990343920
My Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/davidestesbooks