10 Questions with David Estes

David Estes, author of The Fatemarked Epic, The Dwellers Saga and The Country Saga, dropped by The Book Base to answer ten questions about his fantasy books and his writing life.

What do you like about the writing process and which parts do you like the least?

Creation! One of the coolest and most satisfying things about writing is the power to create something from nothing. Worlds, characters, battles, suspense…it’s extremely rewarding. There are times when I look back and think, “How did I do that?” Even I don’t know sometimes.

If I think too hard about the fact that my stories and characters and world wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t sat down day after day, month after month, year after year and taken the time to pour my emotions and ideas into my writing…well, I go a little crazy. If anything, the ability to create something only motivates me more. I think that motivation is best highlighted by my bestselling epic fantasy series, The Fatemarked Epic.

Which books have had the greatest impact on your writing?

So many! On the epic fantasy side, my favorite authors are Tolkien, Sanderson, and George R. R. Martin. Tolkien’s worldbuilding had a huge influence on me. As a kid, I read The Lord of the Rings more than a dozen times, until the cover was falling off of my books. In fact, one of the reasons I wrote more than twenty books before I attempted to write an epic fantasy was because I didn’t think I could live up to the high standards set by Tolkien. When I finally finished The Fatemarked Epic, I was surprised to find myself feeling worthy. I would be proud to share it with Tolkien were he still alive.

Sanderson’s creativity motivates me to be MORE. More everything. More creative, more focused on creating complex characters. Just more.

And Martin, well, his books have shown me that it’s okay to be EPIC. That’s one reason why The Fatemarked Epic is nearly a million words spread across five books. I had a lot of stories to tell, and I didn’t want to skimp on any of them.

Which of your characters is the easiest for you to write, and which is the most challenging? Why?

For me, the easiest characters to write are those that are three-dimensional. It doesn’t necessarily matter whether they are good or evil or something in between, as long as they have depth. That tends to make the words flow onto the page.

A good example is Rhea Loren from Fatemarked. She is quickly becoming the most hated/loved character in any of my 30+ novels. It’s her inner conflict that makes her so polarizing. We all go through hard times, and she is no exception. How we react to the crap the world throws at us is what defines us. Rhea reacts in a lot of different ways as she learns who she is and who she wants to be.

The hardest characters to write are those I can’t become in my mind. Usually they don’t have enough depth and I’m forced to rewrite them or scrap them altogether. I refuse to write a character that doesn’t come alive in my mind. It’s not fair to me or to the reader.

Do you plot your books in detail, or develop the story as you are writing?

I’m more a pantser than a plotter, because I like being surprised by the direction my books go in. Also, I’m a firm believer in creativity breeds creativity. So the more I write, the more the ideas flow, which allows me to formulate the story as I go.

That being said, for a massive undertaking like The Fatemarked Epic, I had to do some planning. Before I started writing, I drew a map, mapped out the royal family trees for three generations, created my magic system, and wrote a summarized 500 years of history that I could sprinkle throughout the series. Then I started writing!

The Fatemarked Epic has been compared to The Lord of the Rings and Throne of Glass. What are the similarities, and what sets your series apart from these works?

It’s an honor to be compared to other epic series. The Lord of the Rings in particular gave me warm fuzzies, for reasons I explained earlier. Honestly, Fatemarked has little in common with either series, except for the epic nature, dragons, and magic.

I think it gets compared to LOTR because of the epic battles between good and evil, and compared to Throne of Glass because of the huge cast and extent of worldbuilding. But everything else is different, from the magic system, to the types of characters, to the plotlines. Regardless, it’s an honor!

Which fantasy books written in the last few years would you recommend to readers of The Book Base?

So many! Anything by Brandon Sanderson, his writing is flawless. If you haven’t read LOTR, read it!

Also, I recently read Battle Mage by Peter Flannery and was so impressed with the quality of his writing and worldbuilding. And it’s standalone book at around 800 pages! Happy reading!

When and where do you do most of your writing?

In the morning between 6am and 8am. Sometimes in bed, sometimes at a desk. I write almost every day.

Who would you want to play the role of Annise if The Fatemarked Epic was filmed for the big screen? What about Grey and Rhea?

I suck at these questions! Honestly, I have no idea. All three characters stand out so much in my mind that it would be hard to get comfortable with anyone playing any of them. However, my cover artist has brought them to life on my covers. Annise is portrayed in battle on he cover of Fatemarked, Rhea is on the cover of Truthmarked battling a sea monster, and Grey is shown on Deathmarked fighting in the desert.

If you could have written any book in history, which would it be and why?

I don’t think anyone would be surprised that I wish I’d written The Lord of the Rings. It sets the standard for all things epic fantasy. And those movies! SO GOOD.

What are your writing and publishing plans for 2018?

Great question! With the last book in The Fatemarked Epic, Lifemarked, releasing on November 21st of 2017 (available for preorder on Amazon), I’m planning a new epic fantasy series! I have a title for the first book and the series already picked out, which I shall reveal in 2018. I’ve also mapped out some of the basics of the world, characters, and plot. I plan to start writing it in December of 2017 and then work on it for all of 2018. I expect it to be at least a trilogy, but it could be longer, depending on how things go (I’m a pantser, remember?). Although it’s both sad and exciting finishing a series, it’s always fun starting a new one.


David Estes has a great website and he is offering a free Fatemarked short story to all of those who sign up to his mailing list.

You can also follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

David says he loves keeping in touch with his readers and he’s been known to send out signed bookmarks to those who have reviewed his books an Amazon and let him know about it!

Book Review: A Feast for Crows by George R. R. Martin

A Feast for CrowsTitle: A Feast for Crows

Author: George R. R. Martin

Publication Date: 2005

Why did I choose to read this book?

I read A Feast for Crows (the fourth book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series) when it was first published in 2005. I decided read it again before starting the newly-published fifth book in the series, A Dance With Dragons.

Summary

From Amazon:

The fourth volume in the hugely popular and highly acclaimed epic fantasy. There is passion here, and misery and charm, grandeur and squalor, tragedy, nobility and courage.

Bloodthirsty, treacherous and cunning, the Lannisters are in power on the Iron Throne in the name of the boy-king Tommen. But fear and deceit are in the air: their enemies are poised to strike.

The Martells of Dorne seek vengeance for their dead, and the heir of King Balon of the Iron Isles, Euron Crow’s Eye, is as black a pirate as ever raised a sail.

Across the war-torn landscape of the Seven Kingdoms, Brienne the Beauty (thus named in mockery of her great size and strength) seeks for Sansa Stark, having vowed to protect Sansa from the wrath of Queen Cersei, Tommen’s power-hungry mother.

Meanwhile apprentice Maester Samwell Tarly brings a mysterious babe in arms south to the Citadel from the cruel frozen north where the sinister Others threaten the Wall…

Review

One of the key features of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series is the way that the story is told from multiple viewpoints. Although written in third person, each chapter is devoted to one character and the reader gets to see events and scenes from his or her perspective. As the series has progressed, the number of viewpoint characters has increased. In order to prevent A Feast for Crows becoming too large, George R. R. Martin decided to divide the viewpoint characters into two groups. The storylines involving the first set of characters became A Feast for Crows, and the storylines involving the other group would be contained in A Dance With Dragons (Book 5). These two books  pretty much cover the same time period, they just recount the story events from the perspectives of different characters.

The move by Martin to split the book in this way has proved to be quite a controversial one, and I admit that when I first read A Feast for Crows, I was quite frustrated by the fact that some of my favourite viewpoint characters (Jon and Tyrion in particular) were missing. However, this didn’t seem such a big deal to me during the re-read. In fact, I quite liked the way that other characters came to the fore and were given more space and attention.

George R. R. Martin’s writing is always vivid and easy to read and, although the plot becomes even more convoluted and complex, it’s never hard to keep track of and follow.

Because of the decision to remove half of the viewpoint characters, A Feast for Crows doesn’t feel as complete as the first three books in the series. It doesn’t have such a clear beginning, middle and end, and it doesn’t really work as a standalone novel. But this isn’t really a big problem as most people will read this book and then read the next book in the series, A Dance With Dragons, straight after. I still think the best book in the series so far is A Storm of Swords (Book 3), but A Feast for Crows is also very good. I’m really glad I re-read it and I can’t wait to begin A Dance With Dragons.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Check out my review of A Storm of Swords (Book 3 in the A Song of Ice and Fire series)