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Between the lines with Estevan Vega (Q&A)

Estevan Vega's 'Arise' is available now from Capulet Entertainment.

Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Estevan Vega.

Vega is the author of The Arson Saga, the latest installment of which, Arise (Capulet Entertainment, $14.99) is out now. He published his first book, Servant of the Realm, at age fifteen, and has since released four novels—including The Sacred Sin, which was later revamped and re-released as The Forsaken—and several short stories. Arson was unleashed in 2010 and continues to ignite interest among a rapidly expanding audience. Vega makes his home in Connecticut, where he is at work on his next project.

Arise is the third book in the popular Arson series and was published in July, and has resonated strongly with early readers. Jay Bonansinga, New York Times bestselling co-author of The Walking Dead: Fall of the Governor, praised, “Estevan’s dark fantasy bristles with malignant energy and throbs with ideas … Surgically precise … This is Harry Potter for the thinking person. Highly recommended!” Further, Josh Olds of noted, “ARISE is fast-paced, edgy, and—in typical Vega style—just a bit bizarre. His characters are complex and loveable, even when they aren’t very likeable. I found myself lost in the story, turning page after page to try to keep up with Vega’s intense storytelling. What began four years ago as a coming-of-age tale of a kid with fire-making abilities has now become so much more. And I’m fully along for the ride.”

From the publisher:

THE PIECES ARE SCATTERED. A NEW NIGHTMARE DAWNS. THE END IS COMING. With the aid of Kyro, a smart-mouthed street hustler, and Redd, a cunning investigator at war with her conscience, Joel and Aimee Phoenix follow a lead to Salvation Asylum, where they hope to find their daughter alive. But Emery and Adam have already fled from captivity into even more chaos and confusion. Danger haunts every action and darkness seeks to claim her protector’s life as a result of using too much of his power too soon. Adam’s soul now hangs between life and death, yet Emery can’t help dwelling on the boy who once tempted fire and her love. From inside his coma, Arson roams the fiery halls of past nightmares, looking for the code of escape. But when a stranger slides into his subconscious, promising new abilities and a way out, part of him is ready to accept the revelation and be free, and part of him questions the ghost’s true intentions. Divided and fearful, Arson’s mind is now a deadly game of wills. There’s no telling what will become of the outside world. Arson’s only choice is to enlist every power within and arise from the ashes of who he used to be. THE WAR HAS BEGUN. IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP AND FIGHT.

Now, Estevan Vega reveals a few pages from the book of his life …

1) As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?

As a child, I didn't really appreciate how awesome good writing was. I mean, every kid likes a bedtime story or creepy stories around a campfire, but I was in no way, shape, or form a lover of books. But then I hit 5th grade, and I saw how cool it was to create characters and worlds and situations in which these characters must struggle and try to survive. My teacher at the time had assigned us to write short stories on a daily basis, and at the end of the year we would compile them together and submit the finished product for a final grade. As a result, my father stepped in and taught me how fun it could be to create and helped me write the first few before I took control and began to write with my heart. Been at it ever since. And I love it!

2) What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?

When I first started writing, I found books that had been adapted from their film versions. Since I love movies, this was a no-brainer. It was interesting to see how different authors could take a screenplay and give it new skin and bones as a novel. I loved that. I remember reading Lost in Space and giggling a little because of its use of profanity. It was never that big a deal to hear a curse in a film, but for some reason, I felt exposed reading it, like I had sneaked into the cookie jar when nobody was looking. From there, I read X-men and Spider-man and loved them. I also remember this book called Tuck Everlasting. It was such a fun read when I was young. The movie's pretty good too. But yeah, it's really important for young kids to find books they connect with at an early age so that they can begin to foster a relationship with good writing and good stories. For me, I was fortunate at the beginning because I loved superheroes and was learning to love books, so it worked. I guess it was all part of God's plot to get me to write The Arson Saga.

3) What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?

I just finished The Maze Runner. It took me a few chapters to really get into it, but once I did, I was hooked. I liked the concept and liked how a lot of the characters are dudes. I say that not because I hate stories with female leads (I am currently writing one), but because it seems like sooooo many books-turned movies have female protagonists, and it's just cool to see a male author releasing a book like this and having it become popular. My favorite character is Newt, by the way. It's amazing how inspired I am by film, because I choose a lot of books because there is a movie coming out, and I want to compare and contrast. Little Children, The Great Gatsby, The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games. It's just cool seeing two different forms of entertainment coming together to tell the same story. It's cool that a lot of YA books are becoming more and more mainstream and getting attention from Hollywood. Hopefully that trend continues in the coming years.

4) What one book do you always recommend when asked?

The Great Gatsby. I reference it in every single Arson book. The tone, characters, and several of the ideas expressed in that novel just really resonated with me. And it's kinda funny ... when I first started reading it, I wasn't that in love with it. It grew on me, though, and now it's almost like a part of me. I liked Fitzgerald's style of writing. His other story Babylon Revisited is fantastic too. And Hemingway's story Hills Like White Elephants. The poetic language of the classics are powerful, which is why I try to bridge the Then and the Now in my writing. The poetic style of the classic writers with the engaging plots and style of the modern. That's who I try to be.

5) Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?

The Arson Saga. I love all my books, but the Arson character has been with me the longest, so it's taken the biggest chunk out of my heart. And it has really resonated with readers, young and ... a little less than young, so it has been well-received, which is always awesome.

6) Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?

I took a Women's Lit class in college, and coming from a family of guys, it was ... interesting. I had to read a bunch of stuff that I was just, like ... what? haha. I read Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Perkins Gilman (The Yellow Wallpaper - which I actually really liked). Some of the writing was a bit much, but overall I am glad I took the course. I got an inside look into how a good portion of modern women think. It's always good to get an insight into your audience, and since so much of the modern reading audience are women, it can't hurt.

7) Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?

I met Andre Dubus III recently and gave him a copy of Arson. Haha. I attended his reading at a library in CT, and I asked him something about writing or having his stuff turned into films, and he could tell automatically that I was a writer before I had said anything. After his reading, I shook his hand and got a picture with him, which was really rad. His book House of Sand and Fog is just incredible. If you haven't read it, you should. The audio version is excellent and the film version is also phenomenal. One of my favorites by far.

8) Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?

I had a sort-of "I've made it" moment when Arson came out, because I knew it would be a game-changer for me. And in a lot of ways, it was. But as far as the real "I've made it" moment, that may not happen until the books get turned into film, because that would mean that my audience would expand a lot. Something else comes to mind, though. Over the years, I've had the privilege of meeting cool people; some are bands, some are film people, others own movie theaters or work with theaters, etc. and having fostered those relationships, it has allowed me the benefit of getting into special screenings or getting into concerts free. Honestly, it's the coolest thing, because I love film and music so much, and I bring my book writing into it, so it all plays off each other. I don't get gold bars delivered to my hotel room as a party favor just yet, but it's a start ...

9) What is your greatest literary ambition?

It may seem kinda cliché, but I wanna change the world. I've never been a writer content with writing for the sake of writing. I wanna impact this rock, and a powerful way to do that is to get a bunch of people reading your stuff. I have gotten emails from fans telling me that my work has impacted them in some way or made them think differently about certain things, and that's so awesome. It reminds me why I do this, even though it isn't always easy.

10) Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.

… the freakin' bomb!


With thanks to Estevan Vega for his generosity of time and thought. Spread the fire, readers ...

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