Where reading is a way of life

Sunday, November 16, 2014

4 year Blogoversary Celebration--Interview with David Estes + GIVEAWAY!

Today I have David Estes, amazing YA author, on the blog!  I can't imagine a celebration on my blog without David, one of my very good friends, AND one of my favorite writers! His newest book, Brew, recently released and it is brilliant!

Welcome to the blog, David! Tell us more about Brew!

Thanks so much for having me on your awesome blog, Jenny, and congrats on your 4 year blogoversary, that’s a HUGE accomplishment!

In three words, I’d describe Brew as a book about the witch apocalypse! Basically, the history from the Salem Witch Trials repeats itself on a much broader scale, leading to accused “witches” being executed in modern times. As it turns out, some real witches are killed in the process and they don’t like that too much, leading to a major response that comes to be known as Salem’s Revenge, as the magic-born (witches, warlocks, and wizards) take over the world.

With millions of humans killed off in less than 24 hours, the surviving humans must attempt to survive in any way they can. One of them, a teenaged book-blogging football player named Rhett Carter, becomes a witch hunter under the masterful training of his neighbor, an ex-CIA badass. Rhett’s ultimate goal is to become strong and tough enough to kill the gang of witches he suspects murdered his best friend and girlfriend.

Although Brew is about survival, at the heart of the book is a message of friendship and love, and the sacrifices we will make for those we care the most about.

If you were a warlock and could choose a witch gang in Brew to join, which one would you choose and why?

Awesome question! As you point out, Brew is a little different than other witch books as there are still groups of magic-born, but they’re called gangs rather than covens. They are generally grouped together based on magical specialty. For example, the group of corpse-raising magic-born are called the Necromancer, or Necros. There are many other gangs, from Changelings to Pyros to Sirens. However, if I had to choose just one gang, I’d want to be a Clairvoyant. Their powers are extremely powerful and they have an almost elf-like quality to them. Also, they have the gift of eternal life in the form of reincarnating after death, something that would be incredible! My biggest fear about dying is not being able to see what will come AFTER I’m gone. Reincarnating would allow me to see the world change over the course of centuries!

The cover of Brew is STUNNING. I know you had some input into it. How did this cover come to be?

Thank you so much, I’m so pleased you like it! My wife, Adele, and I come up with the concepts for all of my covers, and then we rely on the expert skill of my various cover artists to bring them to life. Something I enjoy doing is portraying a scene from the book on the cover, so that when readers get to that particular part they have an “Aha!” moment and appreciate the cover even more. In this case, there’s a scene with dead sunflowers, but then Rhett’s magical dog, Hex, begins to bring the sunflowers back to life, one at a time. That’s what the cover portrays.

The cool thing is that I was inspired to write this scene when my wife and I were traveling in Italy. We were near Siena and driving past beautiful fields of sunflowers. It was late in the season, so many of the fields were dead. We stopped at one to take pictures, and found a single living sunflower amidst thousands of dead ones. The dead ones looked like old men with sore backs, bending over, while the living one was vibrant and full of energy, craning toward the sun. That true life scene inspired me to write my fictional scene in Brew, which later inspired the cover for the book.

You are given a magic wand that has 3 spells “built in” to it. What 3 things would you “fix” in our world to make it a better place?

Gah! Why only three? It’s like the 3 wishes thing where you always want to use your last wish for 3 more wishes. But I won’t cheat…much. OK, first I’d want the wand to be able to create food from thin air. That way I could use it to feed the hungry. It would still be a major task to supply the food everywhere it’s needed, but I’d do it. NO ONE should have to go hungry. A full belly would hopefully inspire more people to turn their lives around and pull themselves out of whatever rut they’re in. Oh, and this might be cheating, but this would include pet food! There are way too many starving stray animals around the world too, it’s heartbreaking!

Next I would use my wand to remove all weapons from the world. Yeah, angry, violent people would still try to hurt each other, but it would make it a lot harder. Our world is way too violent. Although we see it in the U.S., in other countries it’s far worse. People shouldn’t be scared to go to sleep at night. People shouldn’t be scared to walk down the road or go to vote.

Finally, I’d use my last spell to cure all children’s diseases. This might sound unfair to the adults, but children would be my priority. Every child deserves the chance at a childhood. They should be out playing, laughing, making up games, having fun, learning. Not stuck in a hospital. Everyone should live to be at least eighteen. Although I’d like to use my spell to cure all disease, I think that might be pushing it a little!

What is the best compliment you've received? Ever?

Whoa, this one is really tough. I’ll start with a close second place, which is when a major editor at one of the big publishing imprints said one of my books was really high quality and my best writing yet. That meant a lot coming from someone with a high standard. It’s been my goal from when I started writing to truly become a good writer, not just an average one.

However, that compliment couldn’t top the compliment of my wife’s love. She’s someone I respect more than anyone, and the fact that she would love ME, is the best compliment in the world. She has high standards and to think that I met them is unbelievable sometimes.

I know you love your readers and fans, and are a rock star when it comes to how you interact with them. What has been your favorite fan moment?

Aww thanks! I’m not sure about the rock star part, I can barely carry a tune and have been known to make instruments sound like dying animals! But thank you for saying that! Hmm, my favorite fan moment…this is also really hard! I’ve had a couple of my readers send me videos, and even one who created a soundtrack to one of my books, which was really cool.

However, I think my favorite moment of all was when one of my readers who was unfortunately in the hospital with cancer, messaged me to tell me that my books helped her get through her treatment. Gosh, I’m tearing up just thinking about it. I can’t cure her cancer. I can’t even be there to hold her hand and give her strength. But knowing that my humble words and stories made even a small difference in her ability to cope with an impossible situation? That’s success. That makes all the hard work and self-doubt worthwhile.

Brew is overall a very dark read, but has some great LOL moments! My favorite line from Brew is one of them. What is your favorite quote from Brew?

Ha! I’m naturally the type of person who likes to laugh a lot. For me, laughter is what makes life the best. So even though I do love drama and horror and dark themes, I always have to infuse them with a bit of humor. Although I’d say Rhett’s friend, Laney, has some of the funniest lines, I’ll pull a scene from where Rhett and Laney come across an old friend of Rhett’s a video-game playing, magical weapons dealer named Tillman Huckle:

Password?” a voice says from the right, where there’s a largish couch, a loveseat, and a giant, plush recliner. There’s a flat screen TV on in the corner. A soldier that looks at least part cyborg is blasting away at what appear to be aliens with long, rubbery tentacles as feet and arms. Tufts of unkempt brown hair sprout like grass over the top of the recliner, and the sound of controls being mashed fills my ears.

You know it’s me, Huckle,” I say.

Password,” he repeats, snorting out a laugh.

I lower my voice, hoping Laney and her sister won’t hear, and say, “I like big butts and I cannot lie.”

Tillman doesn’t hold back, letting out a loud guffaw.

Really?” Laney says. “I’ll have to keep that in mind.”

This is one example of how I try to add laugh-out-loud humor into a dark story filled with death and horror.

What has been your most extreme experience?

I’ve been skydiving, which was definitely extreme. But that was nothing compared to when my wife and I were attacked by monkeys in Thailand. Let me tell you, it was freaking scary. A girl we didn’t know was bitten on the arm, Adele had one of the monkeys smash her head into a metal pole, another girl had her shoe break as we flew down steep steps trying to escape. Somehow I escaped unscathed, but it was still the most extreme experience I’ve ever had. Despite Adele’s massive goose egg, she refused to let the monkeys stop us from trying again, climbing the 1,000 steps to the top of the Tiger Temple. The view was worth it!

You are an amazing author that basically came from nowhere to become a very successful full time writer. What is the secret to your success?

*blushing* You are too kind! I truly believe my journey is two parts hard work and one part luck. There are no secrets to success as a writer. Despite working a full time job and having very little free time, I managed to write six books in 18 months, using my lunch break and commute to churn out 2,000+ words per day. I wrote almost every day. That’s how I got my start. The first five books haven’t really sold many copies, but the sixth has sold ten thousand copies and the subsequent sequels have done extremely well. Despite having spent thousands of hours on the first five books only to watch them wallow in the land of the unsold, I never gave up. I keep believing that each new book I write will be my best book yet, and then I do my best to make that belief true. I practice, practice, practice writing, learning from my mistakes, taking on criticism without getting angry (or at least as best as I can), and being inspired by the authors I love. I respect each and every new reader (and old reader) that takes a chance on one of my books, and I never take them for granted. Without my readers, my dream of being a full time author could disappear in an instant!

What is one thing you want your readers to take away from your books?

Feels! I want my readers to feel things as they read. Strong feelings. Sadness when a favorite character doesn’t make it through. Happiness when they do. Giddiness when characters reunite. Spine-tingling suspense in the throes of the action. Laughter at the humor. All of that. In essence, I want my readers to feel life coming through the pages of my books.

You are always working on some project or another. What's next?

Ha! You know me too well. I don’t really take breaks, and when I finish one project I immediately feel the itch to start the next one. Well, firstly I have to finish writing/publishing the two new trilogies that are in various stages of completeness. My witch apocalypse series (Salem’s Revenge) has two books out (Brew and Boil) and I’ve written the third and final book, Burn, which I’ll release in January 2015. I’m also in the midst of my new YA SciFi dystopian series, the Slip trilogy. The first two books, Slip and Grip, will be released on December 1st of this year. I still need to write the final book, Flip, which I plan to release in the first quarter of 2015.

After that…well, I might just have another awesome project planned, which will be a SciFi retelling of a fairytale. Sorry, that’s all I can say at this point!

It has been awesome to have you on the blog again, David! To wrap this up, share with us a random fact about you.

Thanks so much! I’ve loved all your questions and I hope you and your readers enjoyed my responses!

I’ll leave you with this random fact: I’m so obsessed with Angry Birds that every time one of them gets an update with new levels I have trouble concentrating on anything else until I’ve managed to achieve 3 stars on all the levels. *hangs head in shame* I think I really need to go to the next ABAA (Angry Birds Addicts Anonymous) meeting!


David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. David grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife. They now live together in their dream location, Hawaii. A reader all his life, he began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and started writing full time in June 2012. Now he travels the world writing with his wife, Adele. David's a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table.


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