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New Book of Estevan Vega

ARSON

Chapter 1

Remnants of a passing storm formed the lazy fog drifting over the lake. East Hampton, Connecticut waited in silence, but for Arson Gable, this silence was louder than a gunshot. Like it or not, this place was the only thing he could call home. Pathetic, he reasoned day in and day out. After all, the streets and corners knew his name better than even he did, and faceless as they were, they reminded him there was no going back.
Arson looked up to find a bright light high in the sky. Somewhere far enough to notice him, but close enough to burn still, fighting its way through patches of rimless clouds and wandering fog. He blinked, welcoming the dark rush of black behind his eyelids. As Arson approached the dock, his mind returned to thoughts of Danny, the only childhood friend he ever had. Dim mornings somehow made each memory more real. Hard to let go, even harder to erase. Was he always here, always watching? Odd how seven years can come and go without a warning, as if the world blinks and somehow forgets to open its eyes again.
It was never his grandparents’ intention to stay anywhere for too long, but it seemed East Hampton had 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, his grandparents grew tired of running. This dull corner of the world seemed quiet enough for them to believe starting over again as normal folks was possible. “Forget what happened all those years ago in Cambridge,” Grandma urged so many times 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 was recounted to him only once by his grandfather and it stuck. Nevertheless, with every joyous recollection, distilled regret always followed. He sometimes imagined what it might be like to wake up and find strong hands choking the life out of him, or to get thrown in jail by an angry agent and be forgotten.
Arson was an unusual boy. He knew it. And he hated it. The ancients might have even gone so far as to call him cursed. Whatever lingered inside his bones left as quickly as it came, finding him 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 in a fever? How come his sweat burned when it hit the ground? What was he? But Grandma argued there wasn’t much of a 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, right?
Arson swallowed hard and threw a stone into the water, watching its slow ripples spread, soon losing his own reflection. He wondered why he was the way he was, wondered why those little girl’s parent’s 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. Would he ever see Danny again, or was his friend resolved to visit only as a figment of his imagination?
I want to be free, Arson thought out loud, as nausea crept up his belly. While boats raced along the surface of the lake, he stared in awe. He noticed each vanishing vessel, and thought of how easily they traversed across the water and then were gone. 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 into the current. 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 floorboards of the splintering dock. Kind of like the way swings sound 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. In seconds, peace abandoned him to the lake’s shallow world. In a blink, he was inside a memory, looking through the eyes of a ten year old boy.
“I don’t like fire,” he heard the boy say, so frightened, so naive. “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 stung still, images wilting and tossed against the shores of chaos. Lightless. Breathless. A thick blanket of fear and horror.
I. Hate. Fire.
Arson could feel the cold, even remember the way everything sounded, or how there was no sound at all. Until the night shattered. The weight of remembering dragged him further down, while he sucked in a filthy gulp 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 dragged himself against the tide, 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.
XXXXX
It was her way of showing him mercy, or so she said. A dive into the lake at dawn usually resulted in a more painful punishment than fixing a leaky roof, which Arson would’ve had to eventually do 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 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. And when he contemplated a bit, 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. Arson made a promise he knew he couldn’t keep, said it wouldn’t happen again. She replied by handing him a hammer and a bucket of tools.

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.
Being a good man of limited means, Arson’s grandfather took care of the cabin to the best of his ability, 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 wears away all things, even hope.
Arson worked for about an hour, when carelessness got the best of him. A loose, jagged shingle sliced through the palm of his hand. Blood gushed from the wound onto his leg. He swore, as the sting began to overwhelm him, tossing the hammer and trying 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 to himself. But 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 whole notion just 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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Day 9 Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

sacred-sinThe Sacred Sin by Estevan Vega
Posted by Jen on Friday April 10th 2009

Jude Foster, an L.A. homicide detective, has demons to deal with. His former partner, Morgan Cross, nearly killed him last year. His younger brother, Kevin, is on the brink of collapse, and Jude is taking that personally. Jude has just been assigned a new partner, Rachel, whom he wants nothing whatsoever to do with, despite their growing attraction to each other. Also, he may be losing his mind, but he’s not quite sure about that.
As if this weren’t enough, there are the bodies. A killer is out there. One who is somehow able to steal his victim’s souls without so much as touching them. Some bodies have been marked with a symbol, and the detectives keep finding scraps of paper with cryptic messages on them. Jude is compelled to find out who is behind these murders, and he has a strong suspicion that he knows who the killer is. On his quest to discover the answers, he ends up uncovering more questions. Can he piece it all together and put an end to it before another victim is claimed? Will Jude make the tough decisions, or take the easier way out?
The Sacred Sin is one part mystery, one part thriller, and is filled with some deep spiritual concepts as well. It’s a quick read, but not a light read at all. Parts of the book scared the hell out of me! Vega does a wonderful job of keeping the reader on the edge of their seat, wondering what will ultimately happen to the vivid characters he has created.
Estevan Vega was kind enough to do an interview with me for Book Sandwich.
Jen Thorpe: When I started reading The Sacred Sin I thought I knew exactly who the “good guy” and the “bad guy” were. However, as I continued reading, I started to question my initial decisions. Is there a “good guy” and a “bad guy” in this book? Is anything “black and white”, or is this book filled with shades of gray?
Estevan Vega: That’s an interesting question. It’s something I struggle with, the way my characters in The Sacred Sin do. There are good and bad things in this world. To me, it seems like humanity is somewhere in between. We were created good, but yet our nature seems twisted, sadistic, and evil sometimes. The things we are capable of, the things we say, think. I do believe there is darkness within us all; but I also believe there is light. We have to choose which one we’ll side with, as Jude Foster and Morgan Cross have to choose. And at the same time, we must realize that as much as we would like there to be a crystal clear way of determining which way to turn, which way to be, we must understand this world is gray, a dichotomy of the good and evil aspects of nature.
Jen Thorpe: This book is filled with imagery from Christianity, from the description of the churches, to the details about the statues inside them. Crosses appear in important places. There is even a character who is a priest, and a hospital called St. Mary’s. Were you raised Catholic, or did you do a lot of research in order to make these parts of the book so authentic?
Estevan Vega: I was raised in a Christian home, attended private school practically my whole life. I went to Xavier High School in CT, a Catholic school. So, my faith definitely interests me. The good things about it, the confusing things, the bad parts. Since this book was so internal and spiritual, I knew what kind of atmosphere I wanted. It was dark, but not utterly hopeless; that’s where the priest comes in, that’s where the hospital comes in. But at the same time, I felt it was important for there not to be a clear and cookie-cutter “Christian/ Catholic/whatever” answer for the characters or storyline, because life is rarely that clear. These are real people with real messed-up lives in a messed-up situation. It was fun mixing dark elements with the light.
JT: I’m always impressed when authors are able to write from the viewpoint of a character they have created who is the opposite gender from the author. You made the part where your character, Rachel, talks about what a previous boyfriend did to her very real. How did you make that so vivid and believable? Did you do research here, or did you talk to women who had similar bad experiences?
EV: I wish I could say I researched the crap out of it, but that would be an elaborate piece of fiction, and not the good kind. A lot of people say you have to have experienced something in order to write about it or relate; I disagree somewhat. The imagination is a powerful tool for a writer. I have never been a cop, never been hunted by demons or been a woman. But I have met these types of people, talked with them, tried to picture how I met handle a situation if I were them. Also, things I’ve read in the past and movies/shows I watch have also helped me to capture snippets of humanity along the way. Everything contributes to a writer’s life, not just the writer’s life itself.
JT: Some of the clues at the murder scenes in the book are small snippets of writing, with one letter… I’m going to say “highlighted”, so as not to give anything away. Do these letters actually spell out something, or were they just a lot of “red herrings”? Were these small pieces of writing quotes from somewhere?
EV: Oh, definitely. I was hoping you caught that. Some have caught onto it, others not so much, so don’t feel bad. If I could go back, I would have made that part of the book a bit clearer. Those letters, when placed in the right order, do spell something. Jude Foster, I believe, says what it spells. It’s near the end of the book, last chapter or something. But yeah, it’s significant to Jude’s character.
JT: I found your book to be extremely scary in parts, but, the scenes with Azrael were especially terrifying. I think I have heard that name before, but couldn’t quite place it. What can you tell my readers about Azrael?
EV: You know, they say there’s nothing new under the sun. When I was writing The Sacred Sin, I had never heard that name before. It was something I created during one of my many editing phases. So, to me it was completely original. It wasn’t until the book released that I stumbled upon a CD titled Azrael, or maybe it was a band. I was kinda pissed.
But on to the character. Azrael is a character in The Sacred Sin, a very prominent character. He’s not just one, he’s more like a part of a few of the characters in the book. In essence, he’s a bit of all of us. Like a symbiote. I just gave him a name. When he shows up, the characters’ eyes start bleeding red.
JT: It’s my understanding that you started writing at a very young age. What inspired you to become a writer? How old were you when you finished The Sacred Sin ? Is this your first book?
EV: I did. At the young age of eleven, I began writing. I had always hoped I’d get to this point, but doubted if it’d ever come true. It started with these writing assignments in the fifth grade. My dad would help me with them. “Close your eyes,” he’d say. “Picture this.” Then he’d go on to tell me about a character or a scene. He painted my imagination, gave color to my gray world. I have a lot to thank him for. He loves to write, but always says he never has the time. I think to him he gets to vicariously live through me. But anyway, it was after my class bound our story collections/essays at the end of the year, that my dad shared with me an idea for a book. He asked me what could scare a person so much that it literally killed them? This became the catylyst for my first book Servant of the Realm, a story about a kid who stumbles upon a formula which allows him to have visions of the future. Only catch is these visions are of all the people he loves dying. In a race against time, he tries to alter the events he sees.
I began writing The Sacred Sin a few months before Servant of the Realm was published. Had a first draft completed that summer. But it would take another three years before it would be released to the world. I was 18 when The Sacred Sin came out.
JT: In your experience, do you feel that the publishers you have dealt with treated you differently from how they treat authors who are older than you are, or was it the same? How so?
EV: Not sure how they’ve treated their other authors. But I do know this, I keep switching publishers with every book. I know the publisher of The Sacred Sin required me to be 18 before they even looked at my stuff. Nevertheless, I haven’t found the right publisher to stick with just yet. Working with a new publisher now that seems to be a good fit for my third book.
JT: Did you listen to any particular music while you were writing The Sacred Sin, or do you write in silence? I like to get an idea of what might have been in an author’s head as he was writing.
EV: Usually, I don’t like to listen to music while I’m physically writing, because I feel like it breaks significant concentration. Perhaps it’s a skill I will someday perfect. But I do love music, and try to go to concerts on a regular basis. I am definitely influenced by the lyrics of bands. I like all kinds of music, mainly rock. Whether soft or heavy. Some favorites are: Switchfoot, Mat Kearney, Underoath, Anberlin–this band actually kind of inspired book three through one of their songs.
JT: Where on the internet can my readers find you?
EV: http://www.estevanvega.com, amazon.com , bn.com, anywhere else books are sold. Also, on your lovely site. I’ve been privileged enough to have done quite a few of these interviews, so a google search might turn up some results.
JT: What do you have planned next? Can you tell my readers a little about your next book? Do you have college plans? Where might your next book tour, or podcast appearance be?
EV: I would love to tell them about my third and what I think is my best book. ARSON is a coming of age story about a seventeen year old kid struggling with guilt from a past accident. He’s anything but normal, and he hates it. Arson has a gift, well sort of. He can create and manipulate fire. His world’s a mess, but it makes sense, until a new neighbor moves in, a new neighbor who wears a mask.
At the moment, I’m studying English at Gordon College. Typical, I know, but I’m trying to stand out. I’m a sophomore, but try to come across as something other than sophomoric.
Next, you can find me online at Examiner.com. John Valeri is a great freelancer who recently did an interview with me about my writing. He’s a book examiner for Hartford, CT. Be sure to check it out. Thank you so much for having me on your site. Anyone who hasn’t checked out The Sacred Sin, please do so. It’s fun, and is sure to keep you on edge.
And keep your eyes peeled for ARSON, which I plan to have out later this year.
JT: Thank you, so much, for doing this interview with me for Book Sandwich!
EV: Thanks again for sharing with me this opportunity. It was a pleasure to answer these questions for Book Sandwich.

http://booksandwich.com/2009/04/10/the-sacred-sin-by-estevan-vega/

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Day 8 Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

Hartford Books Examiner
Estevan Vega: A young writer’s journey
April 18

Estevan Vega
Hey Estevan…I’d call/text but I’m on hold with the IRS at the moment…
As I hit ENTER and send the message via Facebook, I contemplate the wonders of the Internet. Facebook’s messenger function allows me to conduct an interview while simultaneously holding on the line for the good ol’ U.S. government.
Haha. I’m here, dude, comes his reply.
Figured as much…writers are always at their computers, I type back.
Writers are not always twice published by the age of eighteen, however. Estevan Vega, who grew up in Middletown and Portland, Connecticut, and is currently a student at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I., has just signed a contract for his third book, Arson. He is about to take a look back…and a look ahead.
I begin with the obvious: Why writing?
Ahhh, writing. Well, I honestly couldn’t stand writing, or English. Early on, I figured I was good at math…then the math started getting complicated. In fifth grade, Vega had a teacher who required daily essays/short story submissions, a prospect that he was not keen on. (I loathed the idea almost as much as I loathed her. Isn’t that harsh?) Fortunately, his father began to play an integral role in his writer’s journey.
As Estevan explains it, He pulled me away from the TV one night and sat me down, told me to close my eyes, and he started painting my imagination with images and characters. I marveled at how well he could construct a story or concept. I was this little punk fifth grader who couldn’t be bothered, and yet he saw something in me, a possibility…that I had never seen. He showed me that writing stories could be fun.
Soon, the short stories led to a bound “mini-book” based on a story that his father helped him to envision. It was the culminating project of that fateful fifth grade school year, and it left the would-be writer wanting more. I felt so accomplished…but it wasn’t enough.
Initially, thoughts of fame and fortune filled his head. The only thing I could think about was getting a full book out to the world. He started working on that book in the sixth grade, finished it when he was fifteen, and published it later that summer.
Servant of the Realm begs the question can fate be changed or is the future inevitable? The story centers upon a troubled teen, Luke Phillips, who steals a lethal serum that, when ingested, allows a person to see the future. But Luke’s visions are of those closest to him dying. It’s pretty heady stuff for anyone, let alone a fifteen-year-old.
I was such a novice, and the books shows it, Estevan humbly admits. My father says that book wasn’t about the story or the finished product’s quality, it was about completion. Suddenly, the teen found himself a published author amongst peers whose only writing credits were mandatory book reports. Kids at Xavier used it as a way to make fun of me. Anytime they got pissed at me, they’d say, go write a book, Vega.
So he did.
A few months after Servant of the Realm was published, Estevan had completed a first draft of The Sacred Sin. While it would take another three years, and a seemingly endless round of edits and rejection slips, the book was released to mostly favorable reviews in 2007.
Estevan summarizes the “high concept” for The Sacred Sin like this: A demon killer capable of stealing people’s souls without ever touching them, while trying to battle internal demons and ‘the darkness that lies within all men.’ It allowed Vega to explore “darker, more mature” themes. The Sacred Sin was powerful for me because I tried to incorporate a deeper truth than in the first one.
I liked my ability to capture character better, he continues. Those looking for that growth need only reference Jude Foster, the book’s protagonist. An L.A. homicide detective with a drinking problem and on the brink of a mental breakdown, he is a marked departure from those who populate the pages of Servant.
Can you tell me a little about Arson? I ask, in reference to his newest character.
The response is immediate: Oh…my favoritist book of all!!!!
Arson is the writer’s current labor of love. It’s also the name of the main character, described as a seventeen year old kid who starts fires with his mind. Whenever he feels emotions such as anxiety or anger, his body heats up, and the potential for devastation is great. And Arson’s back-story is a heavy one: his mother dies in childbirth, his father abandons him, and his grandparents become the caretakers by default. Of course, the grandmother is a bipolar, vindictive recluse who loathes and loves her grandson at the same time, as her daughter died while giving birth to “God’s mistake.”
Arson’s creation was no mistake, however, and his master proudly proclaims, He is my most unique creation. I feel like Victor Frankenstein!
The story takes place in East Hampton, CT, and Arson lives in a cabin on Lake Pocotopaug. Vega spent his formative years a town over, so he has the knowledge to keep it real. He also understands that having a local angle is a good selling point. The idea came to him as he was visiting colleges during his junior year of high school, a time of tumult for any teenager that was made worse by circumstances in the author’s personal life.
Some of that angst helped to paint Arson, the consummate tortured teen. Inevitably, there’s going to be a bit of me in every character I create, but it’s just a matter of how much of me is in there. Fortunately, the character does find some relief in the form of the girl next-door, who (literally) wears a mask, which, along with Arson’s powers, may be an homage to the comic books that the author loved as a kid. That was fun to play with, Vega reflects. I love her character, almost as much as Arson. The mask deal was great fun…I hope it’s believable!
Sometimes a reporter’s instinct takes over, and I can’t help but ask whether there was a real girl next-door that inspired the character. Never had one of those girl next-door moments, Estevan replies gamely. My neighbors are either older or ornery.
Estevan Vega is clearly the antithesis of those traits, and, while classes take up much of his time these days, writing is never far from his mind-including ideas for a possible sequel to Arson. School complicates things, as does my intrinsic laziness, he admits. It’s hard to be a dedicated writer, but I can’t picture being this passionate about anything else…

http://www.examiner.com/x-3859-Hartford-Books-Examiner~y2009m4d18-Estevan-Vega

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Day 7 Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

Review – The Sacred Sin by Estevan Vega

The Sacred Sin
by: Estevan Vega

Paperback: 218 pages
Publisher: PublishAmerica (2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1424183065
ISBN-13: 978-1424183067
Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches

If you like horror, psychological terror and suspense, The Sacred Sin is the perfect read for you! Centering on L.A. homicide detective Jude Foster, who just happened to be taken in by a priest, at the age of seventeen, after losing his parents at a young age and fleeing from the cops – sure that they were his ticket back to juvi. The Sacred Sin is like a never ending tunnel ride of twists and turns. The reader is gripped within the story’s dark clutches, from the first word until the very last.

Jude is a dark and mysterious, almost tortured character. The author, Mr. Vega, has created a perfect leading character in Jude, as well as an excellent supporting character in Rachel Cragin, who has reluctantly returned to Los Angeles to help in the case of a sinister serial murderer.

Jude does not take kindly to his newest partner, Rachel, after losing his previous partner, Morgan Cross, who was like a brother to him. However, Jude doesn’t have a choice and together, he and Rachel must try to solve a crime spree that leaves it’s victims dead and with an imprint of a cross carved within them (seeming being carved from the inside out). Behind him, the killer leaves a note – phrases from the Bible with certain letters that are highlighted in blood.

There is an evil and sinister force that is out there, killing, taking souls and it all seems to revolve around Jude. But what part does he play in the entire scheme of things? Is there a dark monster lurking within him, waiting to come out and if so, can he stop it before it is too late?

The Sacred Sin is not a story for the squeamish or easily scared or offended. This is a story that takes the reader to the depths of hell and evil – leaving no question about good and villainous. Mr. Vega does a great job of composing his story and bringing the reader into a world of darkness and sinister evil. As I read, I was brought to mind of the writings of Stephen King, Wes Craven, early Dean R. Koontz, as well as Bentley Little. Estevan Vega shows great promise in becoming a lasting novelist and writer of the horror genre.

I greatly enjoyed The Sacred Sin and was woven tight within it tale. There were a few mechanical errors throughout, but not nearly enough to detract from the writing and story itself. I feel that lovers of the genres of horror/supernatural/suspense and thriller will get a charge out of The Sacred Sin and be yearning for more from Mr. Vega. I, for one, cannot wait to see what the future holds for this young talent.

As a side note, I do want to mention the cover artwork. It is fantastic and really represents the story within. Gazing upon the eyes, you are dragged into their reaches – a glimpse into a tortured soul.

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About The Sacred Sin:

Everyone has a past. One that is inescapable. Jude Foster, an L.A. homicide detective, is on the brink of mental collapse. A year ago, he was left for dead by Morgan Cross, a once-close friend and partner. Now, although forced to undergo mindless psychoanalytical diatribes in order to be reinstated into the department, the world apathetically spins on. When a dead body is found in West Hollywood, an investigation is set in motion and Jude realizes, with the aid of Rachel Cragin, his annoying new interim partner, that the first victim is only the beginning. The markings on the bodies are trails to a more sadistic pattern of evil, one Jude may or may not recognize. But how does someone stop a killer who’s slaying his victims by stealing their souls, without ever touching them? As the time ticks, the countdown begins. They will have one week to uncover the sacred sin…and the darkness that lies within all men.

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About Estevan Vega:

As a young boy, Estevan Vega never really felt interested in the written word. Far more fascinating things like comic book superheroes and sketching fantastical beings caught his eye. But in the fifth grade, writing short essays for a standoffish teacher ignited a fire that is still burning. Using his imaginative father as a springboard for ideas, Vega set out to write a full manuscript. His dream to become a published author came forth when he was just15 years old, releasing his first literary creation, Servant of the Realm,to the world, a story about a teenager who sees the future deaths of those he loves and tries to change it. “There is something therapeutic and natural about breathing life into the mundane, or finding escape through odd characters and strange concepts,” says Vega.

The Sacred Sin, his second book, was published when he was 18, and shows a darker edge and deeper intensity than his first effort. The Sacred Sin bleeds with honesty and emotion, 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. Stopping this ghost killer, fighting against his demons, his inner darkness, may be the only path toward sanity and a new beginning. With a curiosity for the supernatural, as well as a feeling of discontentment with humanity’s complacency, 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.

Vega resides in Connecticut, a small New England state most people forget about. Tate Publishing will release his latest creation ARSON in 2009.

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Be sure to visit Estevan Vega’s fabulous website:
http://www.estevanvega.com/index.html

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Excerpt:

Chapter Four

It wasn’t much of a welcome home, but she expected nothing less.
“I hate this city.”
The thought of returning to the place that took her father so many years ago made her want to puke. Rachel knew in her gut that she had some unfinished business with Los Angeles. It was one of those now or never things.
She fought the invasive hues of light that sketched through her windshield. The midday sun made the drive that much more of a drag. Rachel was still chewing on loose pieces of the fortune cookie she shoveled down her mouth an hour ago. Although it was pointless, she read the small sheet one last time.
“You will meet someone interesting and unique today,” she said. Then she threw it out the window. “Why don’t they just tell me I’m going to breathe today? Could you be any more vague?” Rachel felt her head spin all over again. The fact that she sounded like the valley girls in high school that she always wanted to pummel didn’t help. It’d been three hours since she packed up from San Diego and was on her way to Hell as she knew it. “Okay, get a grip, Rachel, and stop talking to yourself.” She started pacing her breaths, focusing on the road, before screaming at a wild driver. “Yep, I’m home, all right.”
The sky painted a picture of fuchsia and bright orange. Amidst the cloudiness and smog, the breeze felt soothing, but it didn’t do much to calm her down. “What are you doing? This is not what you need. Another case? Are you out of your mind?” Rachel rolled her eyes, bellowing a curse at another driver. This time a taxi.
With both hands choking the steering wheel, she stared at her reflection in the rearview mirror, “Lighten up, right? It’s not what you want, Rachel, but it’s your job. Cities can’t protect themselves.” A sigh. “Oh, stop with the heroine routine, Rachel, you don’t want to go, just say it. You’re afraid…but afraid of what?”
When she found enough space to get off the exit, she stopped at a gas station to fill up. She looked at her watch. Eight o’clock. Exhaling deeply, Rachel blinked a thousand times, before getting out of the car to pump her gas. “Just shut up, Rachel. You talk too much.”

* * * * *

Night found Jude parked on a city corner, cold. He was making a few notes on the printout Mike had given him, and was almost finished when he felt his cell phone vibrate hard in his coat pocket.
“This is Foster,” Jude answered, scratching his cheek. It was the call he felt in his gut right before he got it. Often he’d been mistaken for having some kind of precognition, but he was never the type to embrace identities like a phony psychic or anything spiritual like that.
He listened carefully as he heard the familiar voice of the chief. “Are you okay?” Mike asked immediately, as if he read something severe in the detective’s voice.
“It’s 9:30, Mike, and I’ve spent the last four and a half hours finishing the paperwork on that kid yesterday. So for all intents and purposes, I’m fabulous.”
“Keep your sarcasm, Jude. Unfortunately, I’m at a crime scene. A unit’s on their way now.”
“Where?”
“Near the old factory, West Hollywood. Do you mind coming by?”
“I can always make time for the dead.” Jude hung up, got inside his car and gunned his car engine.
When Jude arrived on the scene, he looked around the perimeter before drawing nearer toward the house. The three family duplex was isolated from houses on either side by at least fifty feet. The factory exuded smoke from its huge cylindrical beams about a hundred yards away.
As soon as Jude stepped through the door, he covered his nose, trying to evade the foul smell that the house filtered out.
“Foster,” called Chief Michael Harrison, “follow me.”
Jude followed him into a dark room filled with obscene posters. He studied one closely. It was of a naked blonde, posing with her chest forward and her tongue sliding through her thick red lips. As she bent over, the coaster on her back of a black snake burned its way into Jude’s head. He focused for a moment on another wall. Beside the grotesque pictures carved into the indigo paint, he read: Die bitch. I hope you rot in hell.
“And they say I’m crazy,” he mumbled to himself.
Mike turned to Jude, “You look like a skeleton. Have you eaten anything?
“I haven’t been hungry.”
“You look tired, too.”
Jude stammered, “Is this a physical or a crime scene?”
Mike folded his arms. “The body was found at about four a.m.”
“And you’re telling me about it now? Why would you withhold something like this from me?” Anger permeated through Jude’s gaze.
“Whitney was the first to see the body early this morning. Let’s face it; you weren’t exactly all together.”
Forensics had been called to take pictures and collect DNA. One of the unit members was consoling a hysterical woman about twenty-two years old. Jude still hadn’t even seen a body yet, but this had already evolved into a nasty investigation.
“Show me the stiff,” Jude said in a forceful tone.
Mike led him to the adjacent room and pointed to a horrid creature sprawled out on the floor with bloodshot eyes and a gaping off-centered jaw.
Jude stared; he tried to remain calm.
“Black male,” Mike said, “His name is Darius Garnett. He’s about thirty or so. Time of death…3:14 a.m.”
With a sigh, Jude asked, “There’s no bullet hole, no marks around the neck, no knife wounds. But from the looks of him, he sure as hell struggled. Do we know the cause of death?”
“That’s what we’ve been trying to figure out,” Mike said.
“But take a look under his chin.”
Jude put on a glove and lifted the man’s face. When he stared closely into the wound, he saw a black cruciform burned into the skin, permanent, as if tattooed.
“What do you make of it?” asked Mike.
“My guess…some religious fanatic who wanted to get a point across,” Jude said. “But what’s the motive?”
“As of now, we don’t know.”
Jude turned his gaze to the hysterical woman. “What about her, does she know anything?”
“She’s about as lucid as my mother on morphine.” Mike licked his lips. “We’ve tried getting information out of her, but she’s not cooperating.”
Jude looked at the body again, inquisitively.
“This doesn’t make much sense, I know,” Mike admitted.
“Maybe it makes perfect sense.”
“What do you mean? This man didn’t swallow any poison, and despite his drug habits, he didn’t overdose.”
“Drug habits? I want information on all his dealings with any neighborhood scum. I want his dealer’s name and address.”
“So you want the case?”
“Yes,” Jude replied hastily.
Mike narrowed his gaze. “Why do you want it so bad?”
The silence in Jude’s face echoed in his eyes.
“Am I missing something?”
Jude stood, moved his eyes back and forth, and approached Mike. “Have you thought about the possibility that this might involve…Victor?”
“Who?” Mike said, as if he’d forgotten the name.
“Call me crazy, Mike, but I think it’s safe to say that Victor might be a suspect.”
Mike shook his head. “Anything’s possible, detective—” he began to roll his eyes, “but it’s highly unlikely that Victor is responsible for this.”
“Why, because he’s been missing for years?”
“For starters…yes. Not to mention the fact that you and your deluded ex-partner were the only ones to ever even see him.”
Jude half-smirked. “Look, I’ve seen Victor, okay. And you’ve seen his handiwork before. God knows those bodies weren’t normal.”
Mike looked heavily into Jude, before replying, “But a cross, Foster? That’s not his mark.”
Jude rubbed his forehead. “You’re right, but it could still be him.”
“Now we’re right back to motive. He’s been missing for three years. No one knows if he’s still alive. And even if he is, why would he risk his safety in hiding for a few quick thrills here in Los Angeles?”
“Because he can. Victor never touched anyone; he killed them some other way. This all sounds like some kind of story, but somehow he killed them. He believes he’s invincible. Maybe he wants to stir up commotion in the department that sought to put him away.”
Mike still didn’t agree. “You’re leaving too much up to chance. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“Since when did an investigation make sense? Look, you’re right, Mike, it’s a far cry. However, I think it would be smart to cover our asses here, in the event that this bastard…” he pointed down at the corpse, “really does belong to our friend Victor.”
Before Jude could spit out another sentence, a woman approached them both. “I agree with him, Mike.”
With a smile, Mike greeted her. “Jude, this is…”
“Rachel Cragin. I’ve worked homicide for five years in San Diego,” she said, firmly shaking Jude’s hand. “Chief Harrison contacted me last night, this morning actually, and I left as soon as I could.”
Jude, still puzzled, looked at Mike. “So why is she here? I thought I had the case.”
“You do, but Rachel is here to help.”
Jude leaned in toward Mike, ignoring Rachel completely.
“Mike, after all I’ve been through, the last thing I need is another partner. I thought you knew me better.”
“This is a crime scene, detective. Now is not the time to argue
with me.”
“I realize that, sir, but I don’t need her help.”
Rachel tapped Jude’s shoulder. “I can hear everything you’re saying. So why don’t we cut the crap. I’m not here to step on anyone’s toes. I’m here—”
“Because you can’t solve this case alone, Jude.” Mike looked at Rachel.
Jude studied her frame: freckles dotted her nose, and she had a small face. Her auburn hair cascaded backward into a bun. A small figure balanced out her independent features. Although she was only about five foot four or so, she looked tough.
“Look, whoever did this is still out there. As a detective, you should know that every little bit helps.” Her oval eyes gazed into Jude. “I know what happened between you and your former partner. I can only assume that’s why you’re so hesitant with me. I want to nail this scumbag as much as you do.”
“Enough with the adolescent bullshit,” Mike coughed dust out from his throat. “This place is like a cellar. Listen to me, both of you. Forensics will get the prints to the station as soon as they’ve checked them in at the lab. In the meantime, you two have got some acquainting to do and a case to look into. Foster, let me know if you find anything.”
Jude rolled his eyes at Mike, who was already walking away. Meanwhile, Rachel paced the floor, glancing at the body and all around the room. He watched her make a few notes and put the tiny booklet into her pocket. Then he gave her a hard look as he stepped away from the dead body.
She said, “So are you always this friendly to new people?”
“No,” he replied grimly.
He took a last glance at the pale life as it was being stuffed into a body bag. A chill rushed up his spine, as he muttered, “Stiffs.”
Rachel had left the room when Jude found a torn sheet of paper tucked beneath a loose floorboard. Anxiously, he studied it, reciting the words slowly in his mind, Thou shalt not kill.
With every condemning thud in his chest, it became difficult to breathe. When Jude felt the still-wet note with his fingertip, his head pounded. The U was written in blood.

http://cafeofdreams.blogspot.com/2009/04/review-sacred-sin-by-estevan-vega.html

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Day 6 Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

I’ve been asked a lot about my age as an author. Getting published for the first time at 15 can do that. It’s a question the media, and the general public, like to ask. What fascinates them, I think, is that I’m a fiction writer who’s written a few books that aren’t half-bad. But deeper than that, I think they realize how difficult it is to write a book in the first place. Chances are that they’ve probably attempted to write a draft, to get an agent and to find that publisher who drools over the manuscript, but they never seemed to pursue the work to publication. So, they see that my passion is for writing, and they take a look at my age. Shock. Then more questions. I like them, though. It helps to let people know that I’m more than just a name on a book cover. For me, my age has been a blessing, allowing me to connect with people who might have otherwise refused to look at my work due to preconceived notions of my being a pompous yuppie or some old guy too removed from current trends to “get it right” with today’s youth.   

But why is my getting published a big deal? The truth is that it isn’t. It’s merely something people like to gravitate to. If I were to guess, I’d say people gravitate to aspirations, probably more than they gravitate to other figures, almost like they fall in love with the idea of something. Much like I am fascinated by story concepts, the reading and interviewing public seem fascinated with the ability to pen a good story, even more fascinated by one’s ability to do it at a young age. Why? Because most of society’s youth are getting stoned, pregnant or still trying to find themselves in college. Am I saying I am not one of these people? Of course not. In fact, my child’s due any minute now by my crack-addicted girlfriend. The world needs to hear stories of people actually accomplishing things, of people doing what makes them happy, fulfilling dreams they themselves have always had. This is where the hearts of others lie. We live in the dreams of others when we can’t call these dreams our own. Age becomes a number we judge our accomplishments by, a number that often dooms us to depression and discontentment. What little things haven’t we accomplished? As human beings, our desire to strive for something is great, much like our affinity for failure. For the writer, this is an opportunity to connect with such a networked world, a world that doesn’t even recognize its own reflection half the time, and in doing so, struggle to make an mark.

Although the goals of many is to make it, whatever that means, countless people seem to fall through the cracks. Who gives them a voice? Who lights a path for them? I believe writers do, in our struggle to create names not only for ourselves but for the nameless and for the faceless sea of souls trapped by society, empty hopes and dreams unfulfilled. This is part of the reason people gravitate to movie stars and the idea of celebrity, because we like to live in another world apart from our own. Readers and writers are perhaps the most guilty, even if this compulsion is not necessarily a bad thing. We try to make sense of our own wars and our own fears and failures by peeking into the lives of others: our fictional worlds. In a lot of ways, this is a redemptive voyeurism.

So my journey to becoming a writer begins with this desire to enter another world, and to allow others to do the same through me. It began when I was a young kid, a punk with ideas of grandeur and a fictional life I desired to call my own. I started to write a book. It didn’t matter that I was only in the sixth grade. It didn’t matter that I had never before published anything. It didn’t matter that I might fall flat on my face. I was young, ambitious and naïve. But aren’t we all, during one stage of our lives or another? I think somewhere along the road we lose sight of that; we get so caught up in our busy, ordinary lives that we forget what it’s like to be those characters we sketched out in our minds, the fearless ones, the heroes.

When people ask me about my age, I tell them that it’s a blessing I started to write. It’s a blessing that I found this passion so early in life. One, because it allows me to connect with readers while I’m young and hopefully hold onto them well into my twilight years; and two, I can unload what’s on my mind to anyone willing to read it. People find safety in a story, they let their guards down, if only for a moment, and that’s when they remember what it’s like to be that child, to be that dreamer. There’s a connection which transcends ideas, a connection beyond words on a page. I write because I have to, and my age is just something that seems to get my foot in the door with some people.  Maybe it’s time to get in touch with the dreamer again. You never know what might happen.

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Day 5 Top Ten Days of Estevan Vega

Visit Estevan’s Blog

http://estevanvega.com/blog/

 

The world according to I

June 28th, 2008

Most people will tell you they are happy. They live happy lives. They have happy friends. But sometimes it seems harder than ever to find that ounce of joviality we swore we once possessed. How easily it slips away from us.

I can recall myself being happy once. OK, maybe twice. After all, happiness is fleeting, momentary. But when you’re a kid, I think we think that slice of heaven will be enough to fill us for a lifetime. It isn’t. The inevitable truth is that life sucks sometimes. People suck. Jobs suck. The world sucks. Allow me to express my sincerest apologies if what I’m saying doesn’t align itself to your definition of life, liberty and whatever else you’re living for, but it is my discontentment which forces me to examine myself more closely, to examine this world. My chaotic therapy. A chance to step back and see the world for what it truly is, for what we truly are. And what are we? We are human. We are fragile. We exist in a broken world, with broken people who live broken lives. We swear we’re happy, mostly because we have collected our fair share of riches or friendship or love, but what do we really have?

What’s wrong with us if that’s not enough to make us happy?

Arson, writer’s block, and life in general

May 12th, 2008

Hola,

Ever have one of those self-made deadlines, the ones you say you’re gonna keep but you never actually do? Yeah, me too. I made one of those blood pacts with myself about six months ago. I said that A Boy Called Arson, would be complete in January 2008. That was my goal, my overly-ambitious goal. Figuring that my college winter break, which was over a month long, would be plenty of time to finish up the manuscript, I find myself looking back at what a laughing matter I’ve become. It’s mid-May, and I’m still scratching my curly head, waiting for that spark of inspiration, that light which will simply flash on when it feels good and ready and equip me with the ability to finish the last few chapters. I know I’m capable of it; I just need to push myself to do it.

After suffering through writer’s block, conquering the pitch and shop conference, and doing a myriad of other things–from book signings to finishing freshman year, oh and trying to continue my dysfunctional life–I so desperately want to give Arson his due. I’ve been writing his story for over a year, the concept now nearly two years old, and I found myself begging for Divine inspiration, inspiration which will enable me to complete the manuscript that has already been requested by Penguin, and which I feel is my strongest story yet. So, here’s to writer’s block, watching too many movies, and any and all writers who can relate to what I’m going through.

Cheers,

Estevan (DW)

A Penguin in NYC

April 30th, 2008

There comes a time in every man’s life where he is forced to simply jump up and down, scream and shout, and dare I say shake his hips with excitement. Today, is not one of those times. However, this past Saturday was. I know, I’m a little behind in my blogging, but seeing as how less than ten people probably read this thing, I guess I’m pretty much safe from an attack. So, on to the news. In case you weren’t aware, I attended the NYC Pitch and Shop Conference last weekend. What is it? Well, in short, 60 writers, one of whom was me, sit around in a few different rooms and figure out the best way to convince editors of major publishing houses why their lives are not complete without our manuscripts. We had a total of 4 days to “pitch” our novel concepts, essentially writing our own back covers to what we could only hope and pray would one day be birthed into existence with the aid of one of the big-time houses, waiting in desperation for that green light of acceptance. My group was filled with countless vessels of talent. The author of Dangerous Minds was among the gifted individuals in our literary circle, and she bought me breakfast! The other writers in company ranged from news reporters to romance novelists to scientific geniuses to top secret  military writers. I was honored merely to be in the group, let alone the youngest. Being only 19, and pitching my 3rd novel in the same room as so many accomplished individuals, and having them congratulate me on my accomplishments, was nothing short of a blessing. After all was said and done, in my personal group of about 16, half were requested by editors. But mine was one of them. One could assume that my bribing paid off. But no, really, there was no bribing, maybe a wink of allure on my part, but no financial assistance, just good writing…I guess, and some help from the Divine.

It is my absolute pleasure to announce that an editor from Penguin requested A Boy Called Arson. When I heard this, a myriad of emotions stormed through me. I couldn’t help thinking: “Well, why didn’t the other editors want it, too?” and I should’ve been thinking: “Thank you, Jesus, someone actually gives a crap about my writing.” Considering the novel is primarily about the idea of acceptance, I suppose I should spend a little more time rejoicing over conquering one giant. The glass is half full, right?

So now begins the real struggle. The biting my nails, chewing my lip, scratching my curly head of hair kind of struggle to complete the manuscript in a reasonable amount of time. Wish me luck!

Estevan (DW)

 

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