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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