A huge thank you to Estevan for coming to Musings and sharing!
So Estevan, as I am a writer at the beginning of my career and my blog is geared towards writers at this same stage, I'd like to ask you some questions regarding your experiences beginning your career.
The Sacred Sin is your second book. How did the process of writing a second novel compare to writing your first?
Well, it felt like an easier feat to accomplish at first. I mean, I had spent close to three years or so writing Servant of the Realm. I started that thing when I was, like, in sixth grade. It went through a ton of edits, one of which consisted of me trashing fifty or so pages of it and completely starting over...that wasn't all that fun. But The Sacred Sin was a little different, because it was the first time I had something to work off of and compare. While I was in the process of getting Servant of the Realm published, I had begun working on book 2. Not a sequel, by the way. I started it in February and finished it that August. Or, so I thought. It also went through a gazillion edits, and three years later, it actually decided to be born...officially. So, very different, but very similar situations. All that had changed is my confidence and ability level. I definitely knew, without a doubt, that this was it...my passion.
Have you taken any courses in writing? If so, do you believe there is anything you gain from a course that is absolutely essential to beginning authors?
I have taken some courses. I am going to be a junior in college, and my majors have been creative writing and English, so, I've definitely taken a bunch of classes. I've learned some things I've tried to employ and some things I don't really like, but it all helps, you know? It all aids in stimulating a writer's mind, whether you like what you're doing or not, it works to make you better. I remember my first writing class, I got a C. I was upset, to say the least, especially because I had turned in every assignment. Then my professor informed me of my tardiness and absences. Ahh....college. You can't even escape lame rules there.
I've also gone to a writer's conference called The NYC Pitch and Shop Conference, where I pitched my forthcoming novel Arson to editors who don't like to reply to e-mails. I got one request from an editor at Penguin for the manuscript, but she never contacted me back. Although, in her defense, I sent it in three months after the request.
So, onto the advice. Don't be late or oversleep for class. Send in materials when you're supposed to. And as for writing...don't suck. Whatever that means. Oh, and read and watch tons of movies.
Can you describe the experience with an editor?
Not really, because for my first two books, the editor was pretty much me. Both publishers assigned someone to copy-edit, but there were still mistakes. Plus, I can only read a manuscript so many times, before I don't even notice my own mess-ups, which is why there were still a few typos in The Sacred Sin and Servant of the Realm. Sorry, world. When Arson comes out, I'll let you know.
Do you belong to any writers groups or critique groups? What have you found is the most valuable, in terms of feedback for your writing?
Can a writing group consist of two very needy dogs who shed constantly? They seem to be my biggest supporters, and most annoying critics. I don't know too many writer friends. My neighbor is a writer, and we've worked together a few times, but we don't talk often, probably because there's such an age gap. Other than that, I send my stuff out to other authors and get their feedback. But my aunt, miss Jean Gudaitis (had to give her a shout out) and my father have been the best supporters and encourages of my writing. They read the stuff, usually before anyone else, and let me know what they think...that's how I know if my stuff's good or if I need to run it through a blender again.
Do you write everyday?
Does any writer? Oh, man, I wish I did. It's hard to write everyday, because I do college and hang out with friends and try to have a normal life, whatever that means. Bascially, I'm just trying to find legitimate excuses for procrastination and slothfulness, but you're probably not buying it. I guess, the simple answer is...I just don't write everyday. But my mind never shuts off. I get new story concepts all the time...so that's cool.
How often do you read?
Again, something I should do more. Recently read The Road, which I liked. I read it because the movie was supposed to come out last year, and then the studio decided to push it back eleven months. But yeah, I gotta read more. Although, it just goes to show that even people who don't hum through nine million books a week can still attempt to contribute to the collection...whether they're good or not...
Do you tend to read books in your genre, or do you mix?
I like to read anything that sounds good. I mean, generally, I stay away from trashy dime-store novels with a buff cowboy on the cover. And generally don't care for mysteries, but I like watching them...which is probably why I decided to write The Sacred Sin, and why it has more of a movie feel than a novel. But I try to keep an open mind when reading. I give the author a chance to wow! me, which is all I can really ask of any other reader.
What authors do you believe have the most influence in your writing?
I haven't read a ton of his stuff, but I've seen a bunch of his movies. Stephen King. I've cited him as an influence a lot, because I really admire the guy. He has accomplished so much in his life, kicking down boundaries and redefining what an author is capable of. Plus, he's able to shift genres, which is something I think is really cool. Another author I really admire is Ted Dekker. He's a good writer, but (hopefully without sounding cocky) there are even a few instance in his books, where I'm like, "Oh, I could've phrased that better." That lets me know that one day, I might be where he is...assuming people like my stuff. Verdict's still out.
Can you describe the submission process you went through to find your publisher?
Long and arduous. Painful. Pride-squashing. Superfluous. Pleasant? But worth it.
Can you offer readers any advice, or tidbits learned throughout the process of submissions?
Write whenever you can, even if you're a slacker like me. Don't give a kangaroo (that's right, I said kangaroo) what people think when you tell them you're a writer, because there will be skeptics and nonbelievers. Just write, believe in yourself, so that one day others can believe in your words. Pray. Gnash your teeth, tighten up your gut and prepare for rejection...and eventual success. You can do it. What are you waiting for? Get writing! Oh, and take inspiration from anything and anyone around you. There are more plots and concepts than you probably can think of, and they're right in front of you.
What are you working on right now?
So glad you asked. I am very excited to announce my next novel Arson. It's a much more personal story than I've written before. Arson is a kid with an unusual ability, something he was born with but hates about himself. As he tries to identify what and who he is, a very strange yet very mysterious girl moves into the abandoned house next door, a girl who'd rather wear a mask than show the world, and this new boy, what her face really looks like. I'll be working on it this summer with my publisher, and it will hopefully be out later this year. Keep your eyes peeled!
Please check out my website: www.estevanvega.com, and say hi!
Again, thanks to Estevan Vega for stopping by and another big thank you to BronzeWord Latino Author for hosting the first ever Virtual Latino Book Tour! I'm really happy to be part of this!
Tomorrow Estevan Vega will be at Rafael Marquez' site. Check it out and learn more about Estevan!