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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review and Interview with Estevan Vega, author of Arson

Hi, everyone!

I am pleased to participate in Estevan Vega's Arson Virtual Book Tour sponsored by Partners in Crime Tours.

We will be joined today by the author of Arson, Estevan Vega.

About Estevan:

Estevan Vega published his first book when he was fifteen, and his second followed shortly after. His fascination for the supernatural ignited a desire to write his third and most praised work to date, Arson. For those just joining, Ashes continues the turbulent story. Vega currently resides in Connecticut, where he is feverishly plotting the next chapter in the series. Get stoked.

Connect With Estevan:


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Author Interview:
 
Tell us a little about yourself. 
 
I love writing cool stories. Rock concerts are amazing. I frequent the movie theaters way more than most normies. Reading another writer's good work rocks, and then I get jealous. I absolutely cannot stand the taste of booze or smoke. Oh, and I have never been the one to write while lounging with a cup of java at a coffee shop. If you've never seen the skit from Family Guy concerning those writers, do so immediately.


Do you recall when your interest in writing originated? 
 
Yes. Right before my voice changed and I started growing hair in funny places but before high school. I was in fifth grade. Began writing my first "real" book in sixth grade. I mean, c'mon...how hard could it be?


Do you have a specific writing style? Any quirks or superstitious routines you stick to? 
 
Yes. Strange. Out of the box. And I try to make it sound original and poetic. If you're gonna write a cool story, make it sound good. As far as superstitions go...I can't stand it when people read over my shoulder, and I'm not much for writing with background music.


What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? 
 
Toughest criticism I think was when an Amazon reviewer told me to stop writing, though I'm convinced it was a high school peer. Verdict's still out. Best compliment was probably when a blogger told me that I could write a scene about a dog taking a crap and make it sound good. Guess that makes my storywriting skills legit.

 
What inspired you to write this book? 
 
Not much aside from several years of feeling a bit displaced, several rejections by females, a love for comic book characters, my parents' divorce, and a lot of pissed-off emotions. Yeah, this one was a real reach for me.

 
What was the hardest part of writing your book? 
 
I get this question often, and the answer stays pretty much the same. I think coming up with a killer beginning and a killer ending can be pretty tough. Granted, sometimes the middle sections take some work, but the start and the finish are very significant.

 
Can you tell us about your main character? 
 
He's jacked, a real ladykiller, and he can start fires with his mind. Well, one out of three ain't bad.

 
Can you share a little of your upcoming work with us? 
 
Yeah. Coming up after ARSON, and it is even better than book one. I promise. I worked on it for a while now, and it should be released in about two weeks. Killer opening scene, a bunch of new and interesting and dysfunctional characters, and some unexpected twists. Get stoked.

 
What do you like to do when you are not writing? 
 
See question uno.

 
Who is your favourite author and what really strikes you about their work? 
 
I like stuff from a bunch of writers. It's hard to pick one. I'm really inspired by the works of Stephen King, Ted Dekker, Robert Liparulo, Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, to name a few.

 
What book are you reading now? 
 
A lot of edits of my own, to be honest. But I'm about to start another semester, so that'll change soon.

 
Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? 
 
Go find an excuse to read. Put aside your work, your obligations, and find something awesome. My unbiased mind suggests you pick up ARSON ahora and then get ASHES the second it streets. 


Snappy questions and answers:
 
Favourite colour? Blue.
 
Dog-lover or cat-lover?  Dog.
 
Vanilla ice cream or chocolate? C'mon. Don't be frontin'. Mint chocolate chip. Psh.
 
Beer or wine? Um...Cream soda, root beer, or birch beer.
 
City slicker or country girl? How about a smokin-hot hybrid? Sorry about that, Estevan, LOL! I obviously didn't change "girl" to "boy" before I sent you the question!
 
If I could take an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, I would go... on a road trip across America. That would so rock!

Thanks for joining us here today, Estevan! It was fun getting to know you better and to learn about what's coming up next in the Arson series!

I hope everyone enjoyed the interview. Please continue reading below for a book excerpt, book trailer, and my review!

Book excerpt:



The lake was quiet.
A lazy fog hovered over the surface of the gray water, whispering in the wake of currents and steady ripples. The world seemed dead to Arson Gable, silent anyway. Like the calm before a storm.
It waited.
Arson stepped off the porch onto the lawn; his mind was swimming. This was where he came most mornings while Grandma slept. He cut his gaze toward the lake, that black womb which rested beyond and beneath the rickety dock. It was as if the lake knew his name and his heartbeats, much like the streets and corners of this town knew his name, cold and faceless as they were. Whether he wanted to admit it, this place was home, and there was no going back.
A bright light burned in the sky, somewhere far enough for him to notice but close enough to nearly blind him. He breathed deeply and blinked, welcoming the dark rush of black behind his eyelids. From where he stood, he could see the towering oaks rooted deep in the ground. Their thick branches stretched upward into the clouds, some parts draping over the shady spots of the worn-out cabin. One final glance and he was reminded that these tortuous, beaten things seemed to swallow the world. Just thinking about them—how he’d watched them ruin—made him seem small, so worthless.
Arson made a fist and felt the heat swell in his grip. He wanted to run into the brush, to get lost deep in the small section of backwoods Grandma had forced him to avoid ever since they’d moved here. But he didn’t move.
This town seemed so close-knit and yet so separated. Less than a mile up the road were a country market, restaurants, and a bowling alley. There was even a liquor store, a cheap pharmacy, and some fast-food chains, and a few miles past that, a movie theater and a nightclub. But at the heart of this place was disunity, a fierce and futile fight to be known and accepted. Arson never understood why Grandpa had picked here to have the cabin built, right beside the lake.
As Arson slowly approached the dock, his mind returned to thoughts of Danny, the only childhood friend he’d ever had. Dim mornings somehow made each memory more real, hard to let go and even harder to erase. Was he always here, always watching? Odd how seven years could come and go without warning, as if the world blinked and somehow forgot to open its eyes again.
In all fairness, it had never been his grandparents’ intention to stay anywhere for too long, but it seemed East Hampton, Connecticut, had become a part of them now, a part of him. “One day we’ll be like the rest of them,” he recalled Grandpa saying—a man of ideals, empty dreams, and hopes Arson could never freely call his own.
Eventually, they had grown tired of running. This dull corner of the world seemed ordinary enough for them to believe starting over again as normal folks would be possible. “Forget what happened all those years ago in Cambridge,” Grandma said so many times that Arson imagined her screaming it to him while he slept. But it was always there—the memory—a splinter in the back of his mind. No going back. Ever.
Arson staggered across the dock, images of child play and stupid laughter pouring in all at once. Danny’s face stuck out the most, and behind that he glimpsed their old home in Cambridge and flashes of his first birthday. His mother wasn’t there, though, nor dear old Dad, but that day had been recounted to him only once by his grandfather, and it stuck.
Nevertheless, with every joyous memory, distilled regret was close behind. He sometimes imagined what it might be like to get thrown in jail by some nameless special agent and be forgotten, or to wake up and find strong hands squeezing the life out of him.
Arson was an unusual boy. A freak. He knew it. And he hated it. Whatever lingered inside his bones always left as quickly as it came, breathing out in short moments of fear or rage. Over the years, he’d asked to be examined to locate the source of his imperfection and if possible terminate it. After all, why did he sometimes wake up in the middle of the night with a fever? How come his sweat sizzled when it hit the ground? What was he?
Grandma always argued there wasn’t much point in talking to no-good doctors or even finding out answers to questions he was better off not asking in the first place. Some people were just born with demons, she’d say.
Arson swallowed hard and threw a stone into the water. The splash shattered his reflection, and ripples spread across the dark surface. He wondered why he was the way he was, wondered why those little girl’s parents quit looking all of a sudden, why the investigation against two stupid boys evaporated. Perhaps they didn’t care about retribution, or maybe they were just sick of chasing shadows.
I want to be free, Arson thought, nausea creeping up into his gut. While boats raced along the surface of the lake, Arson stared in awe. They vanished so easily, like mist gliding across the water and dissolving into nothingness. What if men could do the same? There was a man once, he’d heard, who walked upon water and didn’t sink. Maybe he could too. Maybe one day there would be those who believed in him.
Arson’s gaze moved over the lake, across to the other side, where Mandy Kimball lived, and her neighbor, his science teacher from the ninth grade. Then his eyes drew back to the ripples spread out before him, to the dying cabin behind him, as he spit. Beads of sweat streamed down his bony frame, his ash-brown hair trapped inside the gritty creases of his forehead. Arson listened for the lake’s soothing melody but couldn’t hear it. He focused instead on the sound his feet made atop the splintering dock, kind of like the way swings sounded in cheap horror flicks—empty, rocking back and forth to no melody at all. Closer to the edge he came, lingering.
With shut eyes, he stepped out onto the water and began to sink. Peace soon abandoned him to the lake’s shallow world. In a blink, he was looking through the eyes of a ten-year-old boy.
“I don’t like fire,” he heard the boy say, so frightened, so na├»ve. “It’s dangerous.”
“Don’t be such a wimp,” came his older friend’s taunts. “Just light it already.”
With each shove and curse, the memory turned alive; it was as if it knew he was watching and didn’t like it. The pain still stung, images wilting and dying, only to come alive again and again.
I. Hate. Fire.
Arson could feel the cold, could even remember the way everything sounded or how there was no sound at all. Until the night shattered. The weight of remembering dragged him down while he sucked in a filthy drag of water, his coffined body jerking. The veins on his head began to swell. He was choking.
Time to return to the real world, to release the nightmare once more into the dark of the lake. The struggle eventually pulled him to the surface. Slinging his head back and forth, Arson fought to bring himself out of the bitter current, eventually falling upon dead grass. He tasted the grit of sandy dirt in his teeth. Panting, Arson stood up slowly and staggered toward the cabin, where Grandma Kay’s shadow guided him in.

There was something strange that came over Grandma when she exacted punishment, like a part of her enjoyed it too much. She said fixing their leaky roof was a good and righteous way of killing the demons inside him. Nothing like hard work. She said there was no way a lake could cleanse a boy’s troubled mind anyway and that he was just plain stupid for thinking it could. To ease his frustration, Arson let himself believe that if he had been caught any other day, her scorn might have resulted in worse than fixing a leaky roof, which Arson would’ve had to do eventually anyway.
Grandma’s reasons for why she did things, why she treated him a certain way, seemed to get worse with time. It was no secret that she loathed the idea of him diving into the lake, especially if fully clothed. She even claimed there were toxins in the water from pollution that had supposedly killed a bunch of fish years back. But maybe it was a fair trade. He’d returned to the lake all the toxins he’d soaked up with every vile thought. When considered, Grandma’s logic didn’t seem all that twisted. She probably just didn’t want him bringing any of that evil back with him, infected or not. She was superstitious, so Arson made a promise he knew he couldn’t keep and said it wouldn’t happen again.
The muggy June morning caused his palms to sweat. Arson almost lost his grip on the bucket during the climb to the top but regained his balance before losing any supplies. Spiderman would have been proud. Reading comic books all his life came in handy now and then.
Grandpa took care of the cabin to the best of his ability, had even showed Arson how to repair the roof years back. “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself,” he recalled. But in spite of his grandfather’s hard work, it was clear that time eventually wore away all things, even hope.
Arson worked for about an hour before carelessness got the best of him. A loose, jagged shingle sliced through the palm of his hand. Blood gushed from the wound and onto his leg. He swore as the sting began to overwhelm him. He chucked the hammer and tried to keep pressure on the cut.
“What happened?” Grandma’s voice echoed from below. “I heard you cussin’ all the way in the kitchen. You know how I feel about that.”
“Sorry, Grandma.” Arson was glad she left it at that. Sitting on the roof, he turned slightly toward the sun. It’s a gusher, he thought. Then, as he stared in amazement, he watched the wound cauterize itself in seconds. It burned.
“Arson, are you all right up there?”
He looked down at the remaining scar, struggling to make sense of it, neglecting the mess on his clothes. “Just fine, Grandma,” he called down.
“That roof isn’t going to fix itself. If I have to spend another night with drops of water hitting my face, I promise you’ll regret it.”
“All right,” Arson said. “I’ll get back to work.”
By evening, the task was complete. He braced himself and watched the sunset from the rooftop as it melted against a fluorescent sky. Arson listened as Grandma concluded her tea conversation with the man she loved.
Moments later, their time together ended with laughter, and he knew it was safe to come down. Arson caught her while she was clearing away the silverware and china.
“Did you finish the roof, love?” she asked in a pleasant voice.
“Yes, Grandma. It’s healed…I mean, fixed.”
“Marvelous. Say, whatcha mean healed?”
Arson grabbed the ladder. “I’m really tired. I’m not thinking straight right now. Maybe I just need some rest.”
“I think you’re right. You’re not making any sense at all. Say, do you want a piece of cake before I put it away? Grandpa didn’t eat much tonight. He’s never been much for carrot cake.”
“No thanks. Not hungry,” he said.
“Suit yourself. Put your tools away and get on up to bed, then. A growing boy like you needs his rest. I hope you learned your lesson, though. I don’t like you spending so much time in that miserable lake. The very idea doesn’t sit well with my soul.”
Arson nodded with reluctant eyes and put away the ladder and the tools. Then he rushed inside the cabin and up to his room to read a comic book before dozing off. Maybe tonight his dreams would be different.





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TITLE: Arson
AUTHOR: Estevan Vega
PUBLISHER: StoneGate Ink
DATE OF PUBLICATION: May 2011
FORMAT: ePub, 199 pages
GENRE: Supernatural/Young Adult/Coming-of-age
ASIN: B0052ZRKAG

SYNOPSIS: 

Arson Gable feels like a freak. He can create fire. He never asked for it. He never wanted it. But he can't shut it off.

Before now, three things were true: he both loved and despised his grandmother; his life was going nowhere; and he was alone. But when a strange girl--who feels more normal behind a mask than inside her own skin--moves in next door, Arson hopes to find something he's never had: purpose. Using what he fears most about himself, Arson must face his consuming past and confront the nightmare that is his present as he walks the fine line between boy and monster. Dark, moody, and breathtakingly relevant, Arson, the chilling chronicle of an isolated boy with unimaginable ability, is sure to ignite the hearts and minds of a new generation.

MY REVIEW: 

I received this e-book for review from Partners In Crime Tours as part of the author's virtual book tour. I did not receive any compensation for my review, and the views expressed herein are my own.

Arson is a 17-year-old boy who has an unusual ability: He can make fire! He needs to remain in control of his emotions to avoid something disastrous from taking place.

Raised by his senile and abusive grandmother, Arson lives like a hermit only leaving home to work at the ice cream parlor or go to school.

When a teenage girl his own age moves in across the street, Arson is intrigued by the girl (Emery) who wears the strange mask. What is she hiding behind that mask? The two social outcasts find friendship and more with each other.

Vega has created an interesting pairing with Arson and Emery. Arson is more shy and withdrawn, and it is hard not to feel sympathy towards him for the upbringing he has had. He comes out of his shell when he meets Emery, who I think is a fantastic character! You would think that Emery would be shy and aloof, but no! She has spunk and is not afraid to speak her mind! I think the mask gives her the courage to do that because people can't really read her.

The book deals with real problems which teenagers will be able to relate to: peer pressure, alcoholism, their parents' marital strife, first love.

The book ends rather abruptly, and Vega has obviously set us up for a sequel. I wonder what Vega has next in store for Arson and Emery?

MY RATING: 4 stars! I liked it!

This book qualifies as:

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Tour Participants

August 3-Guest Post@Tributes Books Reviews
August 4-Guest Post@The Top Shelf
August 5-Review@Gelati's Scoop
August 8-Interview@Beyond The Books
August 9-Guest Post@The Calico Critic
August 10-Review@The Top Shelf
August 11-Guest Post@Stuff & Nonsense
August 12-Review&Guest Post@The Bookshelf
August 15-Review@Oodles Of Books
August 16-Guest Post@The Book Faery Reviews
August 16-Review@A Good Day To Read
August 17-Guest Post@Terri Forehand
August 18-Review@Coffee and a Keyboard
August 19-Spotlight@Suspense By Anne
August 23-Review@Hypnotically Entranced
August 24-Interview@Book Marketing Buzz
August 24th-Review@ Lady Lit Reviews
August 26-Interview@Coffee and a Keyboard



1 comment:

  1. Awesome interview Darlene. I like it when the author has snarky comebacks to these questions and enjoyed reading Estevan's comments. I would ask, 'Do people actually call you Estevan, or is there some cutsie nickname that you don't want to get out?' Promise not to tell .....

    ReplyDelete

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