Monday, April 19, 2010

Interview with ARSON's Estevan Vega!

I am so excited to introduce all of you to Estevan Vega.  If you haven't heard his name yet- you will!   He is the super talented author of Arson.  I recently read and reviewed Arson and it was fantastic!  He has been traveling around the blogosphere on a tour promoting Arson, and I am happy to say that he is making a stop here today for an interview.  Before I begin my questions, I want to provide a summary of Arson and a little background on Estevan:

Arson Summary from Barnes and Noble:
"Arson Gable feels like a freak. He can create fire. He never asked for it. He never wanted it. But he can't shut it off. Before now, three things were true: he both loved and despised his grandmother; his life was going nowhere; and he was alone. But when a strange girl—who feels more normal behind a mask than inside her own skin—moves in next door, Arson hopes to find something he's never had: purpose. Using what he fears most about himself, Arson must face his consuming past and confront the nightmare that is his present as he walks the fine line between boy and monster. Dark, moody, and breathtakingly relevant, Arson, the chilling chronicle of an isolated boy with unimaginable ability, is sure to ignite the hearts and minds of a new generation."

About the Author (taken from his bio):
 Currently a college student in Connecticut, Estevan Vega has been writing since he was a teenager. Arson is his third published work, following Servant of the Realm and The Sacred SinArson holds a part of Estevan, a piece he began during a tumultuous time in his own life. With a curiosity for the supernatural, as well as a feeling of discontentment with humanity's complacency, Vega’s story-lines dwell somewhere in between fiction and reality, a place where the world is as blurred and irregular as human choice and consequence.

*Thank you Estevan for dropping by today and answering a few questions for me!  I will begin by saying that Arson took me by surprise!  I was not expecting to sit down and read it cover to cover in a day!  It is definitely not a light read, but a beautifully written journey into some pretty dark and heavy issues. Many of those issues teens and adults face daily, such as family dysfunction, the pressure to fit in, divorce, peer pressure, alcoholism, dealing with insecurity, and more.  I've read that this book is very personal to you and was written during a tough time in your life.  Was writing Arson a therapeutic experience for you? And how much of yourself do you see in Arson Gable?

Wow.  I am amazed that you read it in a day.  But you're not the only one, which I can honestly say has never happened to any of my previous works, to my knowledge.  Thanks for enjoying the book.  As a writer, we need fans to support a work, or else it just falls into oblivion.  Hopefully that won't happen this time around.  I am stoked to be here with you today! ARSON is a powerful read to get through, no doubt.  And yeah, it is the most personal and intricate novel I have yet to write.  It means so much to me.  During the writing and editing process I was meticulous with EVERYTHING.  It had to be perfect before I was happy.  It's kinda crazy, because even after I had submitted the ultimate final draft, I was always, like, could that have been better?  It can definitely become an obsession, but I just wanted to make sure that this was the story that had to be told before it was okay.  I am the most honest I have ever been, the most transparent and heart-on-sleeve probably of any work. 

 So...therapeutic? It helped to be honest and real with my characters and my readers.  And it got me through a very, very painful time in my life.  Well, ask me in a few years.

*The cast of characters you created in Arson are pretty unforgettable!  Each one battled their own personal demons, and the way you conveyed their struggles stirred a wide range of emotions in me while reading.  I found my heart breaking at times for each one of them. I also felt angry, hopeful, sad, nervous, and happy at different points throughout the story - like I said a wide range of emotions. The dark beauty in each of your character's struggles was captivating.  Are these amazing characters loosely based on people from your own life or were they created from your vivid imagination?

Arson Gable is parts of me, but so is Emery.  They're like amalgams of my youth.  Their trials are things I have dealt with or things people I know have dealt with.  It was great to expose much of what was lurking beneath an angry current at the time.  And it's sorta crazy, because a lot of the stuff still exists.  Some of the characters have places in my life as well.  I mean, with anything I write there's gonna be part of me left on the page, so that sorta goes without saying.  It just happened a lot more with ARSON.

*I think that most of us can find pieces of these characters in ourselves as we experience the ups and downs of life.  Your adult characters (Aimee, Joel, Arson's Grandmother) were dealing with very adult feelings, problems and issues.  I read that you began developing the concept of Arson over 3 years ago.  Was it difficult to convey their struggles authentically at such an early stage in your own life?

Honestly, I had a lot of fun with all of those characters.  Probably of the three, I had most fun with Grandma, particularly because she's so out-there, that I could explore such a wide array of emotions and you can still accept that it's okay and part of the story because she's so nuts but yet loving.  It was a lot of fun to play with that.  I wrote for an adult audience with my last book, The Sacred Sin, and readers seemed to think it was pretty authentic, and I started writing that when I was, like, 15.  I think sometimes people tend to forget that adults are just bigger kids.  They feel the same emotions, pains, and heartbreaks as we do.  Maybe not in the same way, but they feel it just the same.  I had to just be honest with the insecurities and the struggles I was dealing with with these characters, and they just seemed to flow from there.

*It is amazing that you were publishing your first book at the age of 15 and now you are out here promoting your third book at the ripe old age of 21! Do you feel that your age has helped or hampered you while navigating the let's just say difficult publishing industry?  And what lessons have you learned through your own experiences (positive and negative) that may help the young, aspiring writers reading this interview?

Difficult? I think you mean, painfully godawful. haha.  No, it has most definitely been a journey with ups and downs.  It's true, I started writing Servant of the Realm when I was 12 and decided to seek publication when I was 15.  It came out and I was already working on The Sacred Sin.  I guess I am getting old.  I mean, it's taken me roughly 3 years between projects, but that's partially due to the lovely publishing industry.  As far as my age goes, it has proven to be a hindrance in some respects, either because people didn't take me seriously, as in I didn't have enough life experience or whatever...or I wasn't able to get a contract when I wanted because of my age.  However, I think for the most part it has been extremely positive.  When I started writing I just wanted people to read my stuff, and I figured the audience would come.  That's why I wanted to get started as early as possible, because I imagined this endeavor taking a long time, which it has.  But I'm not sure if I would have changed any part of the journey.  So, all you writers out there, stay positive and stick with it. 

 *I am dying to know the answer to this one... Is there an upcoming sequel to Arson already in the works? and if so, when do you expect it to be released? (Believe me.. people are going want to know the answer to this!!)

Maybe...and I wish I could tell you specifics, but the powers that be (i.e., my writing mind) won't let me divulge anything beyond that. 

*Do you have any idea how many books we can look forward to featuring Arson and Emery? 

Haha...isn't that kinda the same question as the one above? Sneaky, you.

*Are you planning a book signing tour for Arson? (Don't forget about NC!) 

Yes, that is definitely the plan. I am heading down to Raleigh, NC, on May 8th to hang out with teens in the local library.  But I am going to attempt to hit the East Coast.  We'll see if the powers that be will allow me.  I am gonna promote the snot out of ARSON until people tell me to stop...and then maybe promote it a little more.  This story's gotta get heard.

*Describe a "Perfect" day in the life of Estevan Vega!

Hanging out with a beautiful woman or my family.  Then heading to a movie, eating a plate of my dad's rice and beans, and shooting over to see a rock show!  Oh, yeah, that's where it's at.

*You really interact with the fans of your book through Twitter, Facebook and blog sites.  I think that is so cool!  And I'm sure your fans really appreciate it!  Have you had any embarrassing or funny fan moments yet?

I love doing that kind of stuff.  The fans who support my work mean the world to me.  Without them, these words would never be read, so it's my pleasure to drop in and let them know I'm there to talk, message, twitter, whatever.  I'm still kinda waiting for an embarrassing moment as far as fans go.  But I do have an embarrassing moment in writing... I had been corresponding back and forth with an editor of a review site.  I had checked out a picture and of this person and never noticed a ponytail.  They had a soft face, but overall, I thought this person was a guy.  So in an email, I think I was, like, "hey, dude, or hey, man," and then I found out that she was a girl.  I was, like, "oh, God help me." 

*Are you reading anything now? If not, what book would you really like to read? 

I have actually been reading a lot lately.  Jumping around between novels and not really finishing, which is terrible.  I haven't really been uber-inspired by what I've read.  I have been reading a bunch of short stories for class, which has been cool.  I read a great short story called "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas."  I loved it.  My interest has been piqued by a few books lately, particularly The Hunger Games and Day of War.  We'll see if they make it to the read pile soon.

*What is the one question you wish I would have asked, but didn't?  What is the answer to that question?

Question: Did you write parts of the Bible? Answer: Yes.

I would like to thank Estevan for dropping by!  I truly loved Arson.  I was blown away by its tragic yet redeeming story.  I predict this book is going to be big when it hits shelves on May 4th!  If you can't wait until May to get your hands on it then you are in luck!  You can purchase Arson from the publisher's website today! Just click HERE.  If you want to check out my review of Arson click HERE.

**There are still lots of stops left on Estevan's tour, so be sure to check them out every day.  Here is a list of what's to come:

Tuesday, April 20: Kate at Neverending Bookshelf
Wednesday, April 21: Melanie at  Melanie's Musings
Thursday, April 22: Amber at Just Your Typical Book Blog
Friday, April 23: Teenage Reader
Saturday, April 24: Lucy at Delightful Reviews
Sunday, April 25:  Bridget at Readaholic
Monday, April 26: Sab at YA Bliss
Tuesday, April 27: Patty at Yay Reads
Wednesday, April 28: Gina at Insatiable Readers
Thursday, April 29: Kelsey at The Book Scout
Friday, April 30: Laura at Calico Critic
Saturday, May 1: The Moody Teenager
Sunday, May 2: I Heart Monster 
Monday, May 3: Katlyn at I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
Tuesday, May 4: John at CT Book Examiner
Wednesday, May 5: Laurie at Readergirls
Thursday, May 6: Darcy at  Library Lounge Lizard
Saturday, May 8: Cindy at Princess Bookie
Sunday, May 9: Eleni at La Femme Readers

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