In the Newsletter every month (sign up for it here!), I do a short interview with a fellow author. I chop these interviews down usually because I don’t want to kill people with pages and pages of e-mail. This month, I interviewed best-selling author David Estes. David has absolutely blown up huge recently, and I’m incredibly jealous…
Where were we?
Oh, right. David had a lot of great answers which didn’t make the e-mail, so I’m posting the entire transcript of the interview below. If you don’t know David Estes, the first book in his Fatemarked series is currently a Top 100 best-seller in the entire Amazon Kindle Store, which is huge. It is also blurbed by me, which I believe has led to potentially DOZENS of sales!
Perhaps feeling guilty about how awesome he has been doing, David granted me an interview:
AC: Most of my readers may know you from your recent Fatemarked series, but you’ve been publishing since 2011. Can you tell us a little bit about your previous works?
DE: Thanks for noticing! I’ve been around the block a few times. I got my start writing mainly SciFi dystopian series. Before Fatemarked, I was most well-known for The Dwellers/Country Sagas, sister trilogies with separate characters and plotlines that came together in a 7thand final book. In 2013, the Dwellers Saga was featured in Buzzfeed’s list of “Series to Read if You Enjoyed The Hunger Games,” which led to much of its success. I think my writing “grew up” a lot over the course of my first five years of publishing, paving the way for Fatemarked.
AC: As a particularly prolific author who also manages to hold down a day job and spend time with a family, how do you do it?!?
DE: Sometimes I look back and wonder how I’ve managed to publish 35+ books over the last seven years. I was fortunate enough to write fulltime for almost five years, which greatly enhanced my productivity. Now, however, with a day job and a family of three about to become four, I am stretched. Honestly, I just do my best. I stick to a strict routine, in which I get up at 5am and make it to work by 6am. I write for two hours (3,000 words) and then do the day job thing for 8 hours. Home by 5:30pm, family time with my wife and toddler (dinner, outside play, inside play, bath time, reading time, bed time), and then alone time with my wife (Netflix!) while I multitask and get some marketing stuff done. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Whew. Yeah, it’s a lot of work, but well worth it.
AC: What inspired the Fatemarked series?
DE: In one person, Tolkien. I grew up on Lord of the Rings, literally reading the covers off the books. It took me writing 30 other books before I felt ready to write my own epic fantasy series. I’m so glad I did!
AC: What advice do you give to newer authors who are in the pre-publication phase?
DE: Don’t worry about sales early on. Just keep writing, improving your craft, interacting with readers, building your platform. My first series has sold 6,000 copies in 7 years. My second series has sold 80,000 books in six years. Fatemarked has sold 85,000 books in 18 months. I try to ignore all that as much as possible and focus on writing the next book in a series, or the next series. Sales will come.
AC: What do you think readers find most appealing about the Fatemarked series?
DE: The diversity of characters and the attention I give to each of them. I have a wide cast of characters from different genders, races and walks of life. I fully develop all of them over the course of the five books, even as I put them through hell. This makes for very long, but (hopefully) satisfying books. I’ve also been known to be relentless with twists, turns and killing off both main and supporting characters. No one is safe!
AC: You’ve gotten some flack for including a gay character in Fatemarked. We’ve spoken about it, and I know you’re happy with that choice, even if it leads to the occasional poor review. I am glad every time I see a different sexual orientation or different races represented in popular fantasy, and I wish I saw it more often. As an industry, how do you think we could encourage a more diverse range of characters in fantasy?
DE: The occasional backlash for having a bisexual main character has taken me completely by surprise. Especially because many of these haters seem to believe I’m trying to make some kind of a political statement. I’m not. I am a white, straight male with nothing to gain. BUT I do believe in my fantasy worlds being a reflection of the real world, so that ALL of my readers can relate to one or more of the characters I bring to life. Sometimes my characters speak to me in ways I don’t expect or plan. Does the negativity bother me? Sometimes. But the overwhelming response has been positive, so that is what I choose to focus on.
If you haven’t read any of his books, I recommend my fans start with Fatemarked (link to Amazon) and go from there. If you want to find out more about David, his website is: http://davidestesbooks.blogspot.com. Tell him AC sent you!