Sporadic Reads decided to do Author Features from time to time, and I’ve decided to feature one of my favorite authors, David Estes. This time, instead of focusing on being an author, I’ve decided to ask him questions about his travels! We’re so lucky because he shared a lot of personal photos and experiences whilst traveling the world. Of course, we can’t separate the traveler from the author, so we are going to get some tidbits about his writing, too.
Now, to start off my December Giveaways month, there’s a giveaway after this post! There will be 3 winners.
- 1 Winner of “The Dwellers Series” eBooks (includes The Moon Dwellers, The Star Dwellers, The Sun Dwellers, The Earth Dwellers) + Fire Country eBook
- 2 Winners of “The Moon Dwellers” and “Fire Country” eBooks
This means, if you have started reading The Dwellers Series, you can now continue on Adele and Tristan’s adventures! Plus, you can start on Siena’s awesome journey in Fire Country! Winners will be announced on December 16, 2013. All winners have 24hours to respond, else I will give the prizes to the next in line.
Here we go!
The Interview :
Hi Dre and members! *waves* Thank you so much for having me on your awesome blog to talk about what it’s like to write YA books while traveling.
Have you always wanted to travel the world?
For those of you who don’t know, my wife, Adele, and I have been traveling for 18 months while I write fulltime and she edits my books. It’s been the trip of a lifetime for the both of us!
Now to your question, Dre…It’s sort of a funny question for me, as the answer is surprisingly exactly the same as the answer to a question I get all the time: Have you always wanted to be an author?
The answer to both questions is yes, however, they were always things that were in the back of my mind, things I would do when I was much older, maybe even when I was retired. I had dreams of writing novels while traveling to exotic locations all over the world! But being a traveling writer wasn’t practical, right?
And then I met my wife, Adele. She changed my thinking in so many positive ways, made me realize that life is too short to wait to do the things you want to do. First I started writing, and then a couple of years later, Adele convinced me that we should quit our jobs and use what savings we had to travel the world and try to launch my writing career at the same time.
Best. Decision. Ever!
18 months later I’ve published 10 young adult novels and 4 children’s books, I’ve managed to land myself a literary agent (by some magical stroke of luck), and my sales are consistently greater than 1,000 books a month (over 2,000 the last two months!). Yes, miracles do happen! When we return from the trip, I’m planning on continuing to write full time! And to top it all off, I’ve had the once in a lifetime opportunity to see six continents and tons of different countries! Did I mention this “writing trip” has been the best decision ever? And all the thanks go out to Adele, who convinced me to take a risk.
Which part of the world were you when you were writing The Moon Dwellers and Fire Country?
Ahhh, good memories! Well, technically I’d already written The Moon Dwellers just before we left on the trip, so I was at home in Sydney, Australia. But when I published The Moon Dwellers I was in Hawaii, at Waikiki Beach, and working on the sequel, The Star Dwellers. In fact, I wrote the ENTIRE first draft of The Star Dwellers while sitting on Waikiki Beach! Don’t believe me? Here are some photos of my office on the beach smile
I wrote Fire Country in Mexico, while in Playa del Carmen, which seemed so appropriate considering how hot it was there. For those who haven’t read the book, Fire Country takes place in an arid desert environment, with plenty of cacti and lizards in the book, the exact same things I was seeing every day while writing it. There was loads of inspiration for Fire Country in Mexico!
Does the place where you’re writing your novel at influence certain events or situations in your book?
Absolutely! As a writer who is constantly thinking about my characters and stories, I’m inspired everywhere I go. For example, while sightseeing I might see something happen, and an idea for one of my books pops into my head. Real life is the best inspiration for fiction, and traveling to so many different places and cultures has provided an endless amount of material for my books! The below picture is a good example.
Where is the most memorable place that you’ve been into and why?
That’s an impossibly hard question considering how many amazing experiences we’ve had! But if I had to pick just one place that I will absolutely never forget, it would have to be Morocco, because it’s so different to anything I’ve ever experienced.
Morocco is an incredible blend of old and new culture, tradition and technology, and people and architecture. We saw cities filled with people walking, riding motorbikes, and riding donkey-pulled carts, all on the same streets! You had to literally take every step carefully to avoid getting knocked over.
Morocco is also a country that has all different types of environments. Within our five weeks there, we went from windy beaches (Essaouira), to hot, crowded cities (Marrakesh), to oasis towns filled with inquisitive children who followed us around(Skoura), to dusty deserts where we rode camels (Merzouga), to vibrant walled-in city medinas (Fes), and finally to chilly mountain vistas with blue-painted buildings (Chefchaouen). Whew! It was truly UNBELIEVABLE, and was the only part of the trip where I took an extended break from writing so I could just experience everything to the fullest!
What advice can you give your readers who would love to travel like you do?
Do it! Honestly, there’s no time like the present, and the longer you wait the less likely it is that you’ll actually go. Obviously, everyone has different limits in terms of budget and work, but there are always ways to make your dreams come true if you really want them to. For us, we are on a very tight budget because when we left, my author expenses were higher than my income from book sales (yeah, I was losing money each and every month!). That meant we had to find very inexpensive accommodation, while not sacrificing our safety and cleanliness. For those on a budget, here are some tips on how to travel to amazing places and yet not spend all your savings! (All the credit goes to Adele for these tips as she’s done ALL of the travel planning and booking on her own, with almost zero help from me):
Traveling on a budget
- AirBnb is an incredible site! There are listings in almost all cities with places that range from extremely cheap to quite posh, so there’s something for everyone. Most of the time, Adele found awesome places to stay (generally with locals) that fit in our tight budget. Our experience was so much better because of it, because we didn’t feel like tourists. We got to know our hosts, they gave us tips on where to find inexpensive and delicious local food, and we felt like part of their family.
- Longer stays usually mean discounts! Many times you can stay at huge discounts (sometimes half the price per night) if you stay longer. This is especially true if you use www.airbnb.com for your travel bookings. Although it limited the number of places we could visit, by staying a month in each place we saved significant amounts of money!
- Eat where the locals eat! Don’t settle for tourist traps. The food is usually not “real” local food, and they’ll charge you much more than the going rate. For example, in Morocco we found the same local food (tagines) for anywhere between 20 dirhams and 150 dirhams! And the quality was exactly the same. Only the price would change depending on where you got the food from. Once we found a place owned by honest locals, we’d go back again and again, getting to know them and saving lots of money.
- Research, research, research! Thankfully I have Adele, who handles all of this. She spends hours searching for the countries and cities that will fit into our budget. Although there are many places we wanted to go, we had to skip some because they were simply too expensive. But that’s okay, because we ended up visiting other (less expensive) places that we NEVER would have visited, and they turned out to be absolutely life-changing experiences!
- Be as flexible as you can with your flight dates! Traveling from Tuesday to Tuesday will save you loads of money. Traveling on weekends is the biggest budget-killer around.
- Walk! Walking is great exercise and can save tons of money on taxis. If you have to go a bit further than walking distance, try the public transportation. In many places it will be much better than you might think, and significantly cheaper than other modes of travel. We travelled all around Morocco on buses, for example.
- Use tripadvisor’s city guide app when going to major cities! You don’t have to be online to use it (once you download it), and you’ll be able to find delicious, inexpensive food, as well as the best attractions.
- Haggle on souvenirs. We didn’t really have the budget to buy much on the trip (nor luggage space!), but when we did, we haggled with the sellers. Neither Adele or I particular like haggling, but we found that the initial price provided by most sellers was usually at least 10 times the going rate for whatever they were selling! Don’t be fooled by the insane tourist prices sellers try to trick you with, and don’t be afraid to walk away from a seller who is charging too much!
- Stay slightly further away from the hot spots (city center, the nicest beaches, etc.). Rates go down a ton if you’re just willing to walk or ride public transportation to the nice attractions and beaches. Trust me, it’s not as inconvenient as it sounds, and many times you’ll get to see much more of the local culture by staying where the locals actually live.
Author Info :
David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been happily married to for more than two years.
A reader all his life, David began writing novels for the children’s and YA markets in 2010, and has completed 13 novels, 11 of which have been published. In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now travelling the world with his wife while he writes books, and she writes and takes photographs.
David gleans inspiration from all sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things, dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and even from thin air sometimes! Recently he’s been inspired by some of his favorite authors, like Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Maggie Stiefvater.
David’s a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table. He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends.
Where you can find David :
Other Young Adult Books by David Estes:
The Dwellers / Country Series :
The Evolution Trilogy:
Children’s Books by David Estes:
The Nikki Powergloves Adventures:
- Nikki Powergloves- A Hero is Born
- Nikki Powergloves and the Power Council
- Nikki Powergloves and the Power Trappers
- Nikki Powergloves and the Great Adventure
- Nikki Powergloves vs. the Power Outlaws (Coming soon!)
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