Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Author-Interview with fellow P&R author Brock Eastman

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?  
I always liked to create stories. My first big winner with readers was Zog in fifth grade, but it was short and didn’t take a lot of effort. As word counts grew on my homework, my desire to write
Meet author Brock Eastman
waned. It wasn’t until college that I sat down and wrote my first book. Then titled
Evad it was actually what is now Taken and Risk in The Quest for Truth. I’m not sure I ever ‘wanted’ to be a writer as much as God opened some awesome doors and I walked through them. 
  1. How long does it take you to write a book?  
Well I write quickly, I just sort of let the ideas flow from my brain to my fingers and then onto the screen. I like to let the story take me and let the characters come to life and lead the action and dialogue. Granted this can cause for a lot of rewriting or additional writing as I get my characters out of situations they get themselves into. But usually I can hammer an 80k word book out in a few months if I dedicate myself to it. It’s the rewrites and edits that add time. HowlSage was actually written in one month. I made a commitment to write one chapter a day, as the book itself goes day by day from October 1st to October 31st 
  1. What is your work schedule like when you're writing? 
When I can,” is the best way I can describe it. Life happens and my family is first, so I just grab the moments that I can and write then. It can make it harder to get momentum at time. 
  1. What would you say is a unique quality of your writing? 
Quick, fact paced action. I like to write to make my readers sweat. I try to write chapters that make them want to read just one more, then one more after that, until 7 hours later they’ve finished the book.  
  1. How do your books usually get published? Tell us more about the Kickstarter crowd funding approach to publishing your newest book? Why did you choose this method? What are the advantages or disadvantages? 
All three of my series originally started on the traditional publishing route, a proposal, a contract, an advance, writing, editing, printing, promoting. But one of my series, Sages of the Darkness, hit a bump along the way. The series’ publisher made a decision to stop releasing fiction, which left the Sages of Darkness series incomplete. It left my readers without the conclusion to Taylor’s story. Having worked in the product marketing department for Focus on the Family, I had firsthand knowledge of book promotion and creation from the publishing side. And the other two of my series, The Quest for Truth and a book in The Imagination Station series were published with traditional publishers, P&R, Focus on the Family, & Tyndale, which had given me a good readership. So what I really lacked was funding. I didn’t have the resources to pay for the editing or revised covers for the books. Aside from flat out asking for money or borrowing it, I had heard of KickStarter which is a crowdfunding platform. Crowdfunding is unique in the way that it allows creators to connect directly with consumers who are interested in their work and raise money to finish a project. It’s really a win-win for everyone. The creator gets the needed funding and the backers, as they are called, get cool rewards, like exclusive opportunities and the final products whatever they might be.  
I have a slew of rewards for my KickStarter. $5 will get your name in the acknowledgements for all the books, $35 gets you all three ebooks, $250 gets your name as a minor character, or $750 and I’ll dedicate one of the books to you and there are many more to choose from, dust jacketsm paperbacks, writing a book with me, etc. The exclusive opportunities motivate backers to give more and claim special unique rewards. Crowdfunding also creates a relationship between the author and the reader unlike ever before. My backers will always know they were responsible for the series Sages of Darkness being released and for that I will forever be grateful. It also allows me to self-publish which in the end gives me more control over the series and ultimately more revenue that I can sink back into more projects down the road. I’ve launched my own little imprint to handle my projects called Crimson Pulse Media. You can check out the KickStarter campaign by clicking here or you can go to KickStarter.com and search for Sages of Darkness.  
  1. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? 
It’s all in my noggin, lots of God given imagination at work. I do read articles about space and technology that act as inspiration and when I wrote Showdown with the Shepherd the book of Samuel was the key to telling that story. 
  1. When did you write your first book and how old were you? 
Well I was officially published in 2011 (contract in 2010) at age 27. But I wrote the manuscript in 2005 when I was just 22. Taken was the title of the book released in 2011, and Evad was the title of the manuscript in 2005 which would later become Taken and Risk. It’s fun to look back and think about sitting at my desk writing that first story. I had no grand dreams of getting published, I was simply pounding out 100k words because I’d felt God inspiring me and that He had a story for me to tell. I guess it was an act of obedience and faith. 
  1. What do you like to do when you're not writing?  
Spend time with my wife and my three kids. There is nothing I like to do more than be with them. In fact sometimes it’s hard to want to go and write, because I’d rather be with them. Usually I write when everyone else is in bed so I don’t miss out on time with the family. 
  1. What does your family think of your writing? 
My girls are still really young, but they think it’s cool that daddy has written books. They love looking at the covers. We often make up stories together and Kinly my oldest loves sitting t my computer and typing her own stories, generally this consists of a stream of letters and her name, but I save each and everyone of them. My wife loves reading, though my stuff isn’t in her favorite genre. Still she’s very supportive of the work I am doing and always comes to my signings. I’m thankful to have  wife that puts up with a creative type. 
  1. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books? 
  1. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite? 
In The Quest for Truth I have written 4. 3 (Taken, Risk, Unleash) are released and 1 (Tangle) is being edited. There is 1 (Hope) left in that series to write, bringing The Quest for Truth to 5 books. Only 1 (HowlSage) of the books in Sages of Darkness has released, but if the KickStarter is successful, there will be 2 (BlizzardSage, CrimsonSage) more. I wrote 1 (Showdown with the Shepherd) book in The Imagination Station series and have self-published two short novellas; Wasted Wood and Coming Storm. 
My favorite series is The Quest for Truth. Partially because it’s my first story, but mostly because it’s futuristic and the characters are like family to me. Oliver, Tiffany, Mason, and Austin have come alive in ways I could have never expected. When I sit down and write, it’s like I am working with a team as their personalities rise to the surface and show me what direction the story should go in. The Quest for Truth is also action packed and I’ve been able to explore all sorts of ideas from my imagination. Part Indiana Jones, part Star Wars, the series has something for everyone, it even has dinosaurs! 
Sages of Darkness is up there though. I always wanted to tell the full story. It’s about spiritual warfare and how easily we take the battle between Angels and demons for granted. Every moment around us a battle rages that we can’t necessarily see. And I know that I don’t put on the full armor of God every day, yet I should because the battle doesn’t cease just because I don’t prepare. Satan wants to kill, steal, and destroy and the only way to stand strong is to arm ourselves each and every day as we serve the Lord. That said this series takes readers deeper into this world and reveals it to them. We see Taylor the main character struggle like we do, he’s just a normal guy. 
  1. Do you have any suggestions to help young writers become better writers? If so, what are they? 
Number one: JUST FINISH! I think the biggest problem I see, is kids have great ideas, but they don’t want to write the whole story. One chapter isn’t a book, ideas on paper aren’t a book, you need to write the story from beginning to end. Don’t even edit the first time; just write your whole story from start to finish When you have full story it’s easier to pull it apart and revise it into a great story. It’s like most anything you buy, version 1 is usually not as great as version 2 and 3. But version 2 and 3 wouldn’t be possible without a complete working version 1. There will be plenty of time to go back and clean it up. JUST FINISH!  
I’d add, don’t let your first critique get you down, don’t let any critique get you down. Use criticisms positive or negative to dig in and make your story better. I received some hard criticism when I first started writing; I took it to heart and stopped writing. Eventually I shook it off and continued to finished my book. And what do you know, I got published. I believe that if you tell the story God wants you too, then it’s going to find its place, its home with a publisher. If God is in it, success will follow. 
  1. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say? 
Yes I do. I have a facebook, a twitter, a pinterest, and a website all of which receive comments and questions on a daily basis. It’s hard work keeping up sometimes, but the more engaged my readers the more exciting this journey is and the more I know my books are having impact. But this is again one of the top reasons I launched the KickStarter for Sages of Darkness. I have received so many comments, emails, and questions in regards to BlizzardSage the planned book 2 in the series. Finally after my last book signing and one reader asking for the fifth time, I decided it was time to take the plunge.  
The feedback for my books has been far and wide positive. I love reading the Amazon reviews for my books, because a lot of those readers aren’t connected with me through my author channels and it heartening to know that I am reaching more people beyond my sphere. 
  1. Why do you write books? What is your overall purpose for writing? What do you want to accomplish by doing it? 
I believe that God is using me to tell stories He wants written. It’s a form of evangelism, my mission perhaps. These stories connect with kids in ways other ministry might not and the books can get into the hands of people who may otherwise never cross the threshold of a church. Ultimately I hope God uses these stories to inspire and connect people to Him.  
  1. What do you think makes a good story? 
Characters that come to life and the reader can connect to, mixed with exciting locations and lots of action. But that’s me, I’m a guy, and I love action! Plus you need a dinosaur somewhere in the story to really make it sizzle. 
  1. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? 
Great question, I wanted to be a paleontologist and I was the only second grader who could spell it. From the time I was a little little boy I loved dinosaurs and I wanted to spend time digging them up and putting them together. Then when Land Before Time, Dino Riders, and finally Jurassic Park came out I was obsessed. But as I grew older I decided spending lots of time in a hot desert slowly using a brush to clear dust off of bones wasn’t as appealing and I switched to something a bit more creative but yet practical; marketing. For this I am grateful, because that was God’s plan to get me to Focus on the Family, working on Adventures in Odyssey, and eventually published. 

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