Friday, June 19, 2009

Chat with Estevan Vega

Today, I have the pleasure of hosting a Estevan Vega, the talented young author of SACRED SIN. SACRED SIN was published when he was 18 years old, and tells the story of Jude Foster, a cynical self-loathing detective,assigned to bring down a serial killer capable of stealing victim's souls without ever touching them. 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.

Since he started writing at such a young age, I thought it would interesting for Estevan to share his experiences and perhaps inspire other teens who have a love of writing. Hope you enjoy our chat. I did!

Lara: Hi Estevan. Many young writers tell me they want to write, but they don't think anyone in publishing will take them seriously. Did you have these type of thoughts and did you find it to be true? How should young people approach the world of publishing?

Estevan: Honestly, I just decided to write a book. It started when I was in 5th grade. I had these mundane, lame writing assignments, which I had no interest in doing whatsoever. My father was the one who told me to get away from the TV, sit down, and listen to him, while he painted pictures in my mind. From there, the stories we created were very cool. I remember my first really good one was dark, had a detective and a demonic element to it, very much like The Sacred Sin. At the time, I had no idea I could be published, what publishing entailed or how to go about it. I just knew that once I started getting good grades on these lame assignments, and once the kids in my class started listening to the teacher read them aloud, I knew I had something. A small spark can sometimes become a great consuming fire, and that's just what happened. Little did I know how hard (and awesome, and fun, and freakin crazy) the journey would be. Every young person out there, if there is something within you, some small spark of interest or passion for the written word, for creating, then let that spark grow, let it become a fire. Let it consume your doubt, your fears and your ambition. Being a writer is very difficult, takes a lot of patience, and a lot of rejection. It's kinda like dating. So get ready to fall in love (spot an agent/publisher) , go out a few times (get manuscript requests) , and get dumped (manuscript rejections). But remember, there's usually someone out there for keep writing, no matter how young or old you are. It'll happen.

Lara: Excellent advice! Wow, I wish I had been that savvy in my early 20's -- not sure I am now. Okay, I have a question on parent support. Parent's tend not to be thrilled with their children going into the arts, because frankly, the pay isn't great and chances of success are slim without a lot of work and talent. I know you had a supportive father. What advice can you give to teens that don't have this support?

Estevan: It is true that I have a very supportive father. In fact, I sometimes wonder if I'd even be a writer without his guidance. But at the same time, that passion hit me so quickly that maybe it was fate or destiny or whatever. I've heard it all before, that writing isn't really a job and that stringing nice words together can't put food on the table. Many skeptics squint their eyes when I tell them I'm a writer or that I want to write. The truth is that a lot of people don't understand. Yes, it is a very hard road to be a writer, but it is the only thing I can see myself doing. I believe that the words I write mean something, and that goes beyond the dollars and cents. Maybe I'll be rich and famous one day, and that'd be awesome; but if not, I'll know that I took a shot, that I followed my passion and tried when most people would have quit at the starting line. That's why I started early. I figured if I put out a book at 15, then by the time I was 30, the odds had to be in my favor. So, all that to say that you should follow your passions, your heart. Write as often as you can, and read other great writers. Have fun with each word and phrase and piece of dialog. At first, your work might sometimes look like Picasso, and at other times like Rembrandt, but in time, you'll find what style suits you. And BELIEVE in yourself. Tattoo this on your body somewhere (figurative request...please, don't do this). If you can't find support at home, then try to find a group of other writers and readers, people you can bounce ideas off of and critique your stuff. Try to get published small, like in a local newspaper or school press or literary magazine. Then again, for me, I just went for the pot of gold. I mean...silver. Bronze?

Lara: I totally agree with you, Estevan. I especially love the advice about finding other writers that understand what's driving you. No one understands the passion inside writers like other writers. Last question: I'm assuming you wrote your first book while still in high school. How do you balance a passion (in your case writing) with demands of school?

Estevan: Yes. Servant of the Realm is my first book, and it was published the summer before my sophomore year in high school. That was five years ago. Wow...crazy. How do I balance a passion with demands of school? Not well. I've said this before, that if I ever had to choose between school work and writing, writing would always win, hands down. But the fact of the matter is that I need school, because there are plenty of things I never would have learned: stuff about other writers, techniques, point of view. If I didn't get forced to learn about these things, I probably never would have known about them. So, school is good, and who wants to be an idiot, right? I think it's important to write whenever you can. Ideas will hit you, sometimes at random. Be ready for them. And just write, whether you have a paper due the next day or a math test to study for. Don't let one suffer to save the other. For me, I just wrote when I could. I guess at the end of the day, if the apocalypse were to happen, and I still had my computer...I think I'd be all right.

Lara: That's how I feel too - LOL. A couple of years ago, we had evacuations due to fire close to my house, and I packed up my kids, dogs, and my computer. Figured nothing else mattered. It's been great chatting with you. Thank you so much for stopping by, and best of luck!

For a chance to win a copy of Estevan's awesome book, leave a comment. I will draw a name tomorrow, Saturday at 5pm.


  1. Hey Estevan (& Julia),

    Another great stop on the book tour--I feel like I'm learning something new everyday! And this is great advice for aspiring writers of any age (though it would be to their benefit to start young).


  2. I was out all day but wanted to pop in and say hello and wish you weel on the rest of your book tour!!

  3. Thanks, John and Carolyn for the kind words. Glad you stopped by. Keep spreading the word! You're awesome.

  4. I am so glad that I found out about this tour from your site. I just read the first stop (hilarious) and need to catch up on the rest.

    There were some great writing quotes in this interview that I will share with my middle schoolers next year in writer's workshop.

    Congratulations on getting published at such a young age. I am just now starting my first attempt at writing a YA novel. I had to laugh at your comment of starting young to up your chances of being published by thirty because it hit me that I am almost 30 (and just barely starting).

  5. There you are again, Mrs. V. Are you an English teacher? Thanks for stopping by and for the encouraging words. I hope that my story might be a bridge to the kids in your classroom, for those who love books and those who might not. Here's hoping that it'll be them up on these tours some day...and good luck to you! Writing can be tough...but it is rewarding.

  6. Great interview! I will also feature Estevan on my blog on June 27th!

  7. Estevan,

    I teach middle schoolers reading, writing, and social studies in a dual immersion school. I teach one week in English and then one week in Spanish. It is fun to see my students develop literacy skills in both languages.

  8. I liked Estevan's comment that being a writer in this business is a lot like dating. LOL - It is!

    The lucky winner of Estevan's book is John!! John, please contact Estevan with your mailing address. And congratulations!