Monday, October 13, 2014

Interview Feature: Brock Eastman

Dear imps, today I am pleased to feature a prolific and exciting novelist, whose work has touched many, many readers! This gentleman is involved in so many cool projects, including The Adventures in Odyssey series, which I know many of you love (I used to listen to those all the time myself!). He writes fantastic novels for children and young adults, and I know you are going to find his work intriguing. Allow me to introduce Brock Eastman!

BROCK EASTMAN has a degree in Marketing, specializing in Integrating Marketing Communications. He currently works for Compassion International as the Retail Partnerships Manager. IN his role he cultivates relationships with hundreds of independent book retailers across the country. His previous role was with Focus on the Family as the Odyssey Adventure Club Producer, marketing and creating new content for Adventures in Odyssey. His involvement with Adventures in Odyssey gives him recognition in a brand with a rich 27 year history, millions of fans, and a global reach.

Over the past five years he has worked the product development cycle for books, videos, and audio products as product marketing manager for kids and parenting products at Focus on the Family.

Brock maintains a blog, Facebook group, Twitter, and posts to each regularly. He has written for Focus on the Family's Thriving Family magazine, Adventures in Odyssey's Clubhouse magazine, and Salem's Family Fiction Edge.

His first series, The Quest for Truth, was published in 2011 by P&R Publishing and Focus on the Family. His second published series, Sages of Darkness, also released in 2011. Brock wrote an Adventures in Odyssey: Imagination Station title in 2011. The series has sold over 275k copies and is published by Focus on the Family and Tyndale House Publishers.

Brock is currently writing devotions for the Odyssey Adventure Club that will be created into two Adventures in Odyssey 365 Day Devotional books, releasing 2015 and 2016.

Brock is here today to share in this great interview feature. Enjoy, and check out the AWESOME giveaway he is offering for my readers down below!

INTERVIEW


Welcome to the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog! First of all, would you mind telling us a little about yourself? Hobbies, personality . . . tea or coffee? 

Brock: First I love your welcome, I feel like I’m now on a journey already into the Wood. Who am I? Most importantly I’m a husband and daddy of three little girls. We live in the Rocky Mountains which provide amazing weather and scenic beauty, a rather inspiring place to be an author. 

I’m a latte-in-the-morning-and-at-3-pm-please kind of guy. And really this addiction to coffee is my wife’s fault and a very recent thing for me. Unlike many students, I never succumbed to it in college, it was after. When my wife started student teaching she got a coffee pot (that was just 6 short years ago.) A few months later, after ‘sampling’ sweeter coffee fair (lattes, mochas, frappes,) I became hooked. And now I blame and thank her at the same time, after all how could I go on midnight writing marathons without it. 

Hobbies, well mostly I enjoy my time with my family, we do all sorts of things together and at their (my girls) young ages, we’re having a lot of first experiences which is really fun and exciting. Plus this journey with my best friend, my wife, is pretty exciting and really keeps us entertained and moving! Parenting and marriage are two adventures all in their own, who needs a hobby? 

What led you into the writing life? Were you always a storyteller? How did you get into publishing? 

Brock: I didn’t follow the typical route into writing. I hated reading and writing all through my younger years, in fact it wasn’t until college and a race against my girlfriend (now wife,) that got me into reading. We chose the Harry Potter series (no I didn’t convert to witchcraft) and raced through it, though we did have to wait on the midnight release for the Deathly Hallows at an extinct Borders Store. I won, yes, I won the race, though it was through perhaps some unfair methods (a later conversation on that). But still I won. 

From there I set out to write my own book in 2005. I had no idea what I was doing, only that I felt God laid a story on my heart. I was supposed to write a book that wouldn’t have death, language, or unnecessary violence in it, a family friendly action adventure series, where the hero exemplifies what it means to have good scruples and beliefs, not one that lied or cheated to get to the end. 

So I wrote 100k words in college (called Evad) with no idea how or plan to get published, after all that’s a one in a million sort of thing, right (not so much anymore.) I printed 6 copies with LuLu, gave one to my parents, sister, and soon to be wife. Put my copy on the bookshelf and was happy with my accomplishment. That was in 2006. 

But God had a plan for that story. I was very surprised when I found myself working at Focus on the Family in 2008 a thousand miles away from anywhere I expected to ever live and married to my best friend. His plan for the series started to be revealed when a year later God opened doors for me to work in product marketing. A year later and I had three book contracts each for different series (The Quest for Truth, Sages of Darkness, and an Imagination Station series book.) I wrote like a madman, while working a full time job. The kid who hated to read and still couldn’t write (I’m very thankful for editors) was publishing kids’ books and getting paid to do it. God opens the doors and we get to walk through them and that adventure alone is amazing. 

Tell us a little about your work! What was your debut novel? 

Brock: Takenwas my debt novel, though that same year I released HowlSage and Showdown withthe Shepherd, all in different series. But Taken went to press first. Taken is the first of five in The Quest for Truth (TQ4T). 

My style caters to kids and young adults; I try to use seat of your pants action, quick short chapters, moment to moment events, cool gadgets, scary beasts, weapons, and sometimes space ships! I work hard to write stories both boys and girls will like. For example the Wikk family is three boys and one girl, each find themselves in the lead at some point throughout the series, Oliver in Taken, Austin in Risk, Tiffany in Unleash, Mason in Tangle and in the book, Hope, all fours’ strengths will be at the center as they unify to defeat evil. 
 
I hope my books exemplify Christ and show different facets of living a life to serve Him. In TQ4T (10 and up) my characters are discovering the Truth. It’s a series meant to be evangelistic, hand it to anyone and they’ll slowly learn about what it looks like to follow and trust in our Creator, because the characters themselves go on the same journey. 

In Sages of Darkness (13 and up), I wanted to focus on the spiritual fight that Christians sometimes gloss over. If we’re not aware of the daily battle between angels and demons, then we’re living ignorantly. 

Then I wrote my favorite Bible story, David and Goliath, as an Imagination Station (6 to 9) (Adventures in Odyssey) book. I grew up listening to Adventures in Odyssey and I partnered with Marianne Herring and Paul McCusker to finally bring this early reader series to life. It’s heading toward 18 books and over 250k books sold in the series. 

The Quest for Truth series looks like quite an action-packed set of adventures! How did those stories come about? 

Brock: I’m glad it looks that way, because that’s what I hope it is and my readers tend to confirm that with their emails and comments (by the way I love feedback from readers.) I like to call my readers Questers. At times In TQ4T there are two page chapters because the action jumps back and forth amongst the characters in such an intense in-the-moment way. 

This series started nothing like, but yet exactly like, it is, if that makes sense. It was outlined first as an adventure about four missionary kids traveling the Nile (in Africa) on a houseboat. When their parents are kidnapped, they find themselves trusting no one and trying to rescue their parents. As the story unfolded they began to discover who they were and what they were capable of along the way. 

Somehow through my ever expanding imagination and daydreaming, the kids were soon thrust into space aboard an awesome silver ship and their parents were no longer missionaries but archeologists and they weren’t just trying to rescue their parents, but discovering what Truth is. This provided an amazing backdrop and excuse to let my imagination go wild about what our far future might be like; new technologies, space ships, gadgets, planets, places, creatures, and so much more. 

The characters’ backgrounds also changed allowing me to use the series as an evangelistic tool. My goal was through the characters learning about Truth, so would the readers, and some of those would be kids who don’t yet know who Jesus is. Really God just took the series and made it what He wanted it to be, I’m just the vessel hammering the keyboard. 

Now do tell us about Howl Sage and the Sages series. How long have you been developing the ideas for this series? Did the first book present any unusual challenges? 

Brock: HowlSage came about in a weird way. When I pitched TQ4T, I had several publishers interested. And one in particular had a great offer, but God made it clear that P&R was the right place for the series, and He has proven that to be true time and time again (a bit more on that later.) But as I made the decision to go with P&R for TQ4T I was left with a publisher who’d been very interested in my work and partnering with me to create a new series for kids. 

A few weeks later God struck me with inspiration again. It’s as clear to me as I write this as the moment it happened in 2010. I was driving down Powers Boulevard and headed over an overpass, the mountains were to my left, the rising sun glinting off them in a warm orange color. It was September and fall was upon us, one of my favorite times of year. I heard the word, HowlSage, audibly as I drove to work. I thought to myself what does that mean, what is that? Howl stood out to me as the call of a wolf, and a sage is a magician. So I defined the word to be magician of the moon. 

 I knew the story was going to be about a werewolf, but I wasn’t going to position them as heroes or boyfriends, I wanted to place them where they belonged as demons. By the time I arrived at work I had a story synopsis in my head. A teen who’d just lost his father, and then given his father’s mantle of ‘demon hunter’ from the secret society his father worked for. Immediately he was thrown into the hunt for an evil creature and shouldered with the responsibility to protect the town of Ashley Meadows. 

You are pursuing a new publication path for this series, aren’t you? Can you tell us a little about it (and how we can pitch in and help?) 

Brock: HowlSage was released in 2011 and I’d written BlizzardSage in 2012 and turned it in. Then a month later I got an email from Destiny Image that they were closing their fiction line. This left my characters in the lurch, and my readers without a conclusion. The publisher was kind enough to return all rights back to me, including HowlSage, as well as turn the covers over to me so I could use them. 

Still I was still left with an unedited manuscript and I mean what I said earlier, I need editing. So I’ve turned to KickStarter. It’s a crowdfunding platform that allows creators to raise funds to finish their projects and provide rewards to their backers in return. I’d actually started creating the KickStarter back in 2012, but never launched it. Then this year, I felt it was time to make the series happen. I’d received enough emails and website comments as well as questions at book signings that I wanted to finally give my readers what they’d been asking for; the conclusion to the story. They’d been patient for three years, now it was time.

A friend helped me with the video and I launched the project on September 1st. Crowdfunding is a really cool way to publish because it unites the reader and the author as a team. Together the project happens, the author needs funding and the readers want the story. So I came up with all sorts of rewards and calculated exactly what I needed to get the series edited and pay for the cost of all the rewards. I am happy to report at the time of writing this, I am 65% funded. The campaign ends October 15th, so it’s not too late to join. At the least check out the many rewards, there is something for everyone from $5 to $8000, from your name in the book to writing an entire book with me. So take a look at the KickStarter Campaign HERE. Or go to KickStarter.com and search Sages of Darkness. 

So why go the self-publishing route? Self-publishing is growing quickly, with so many new and accessible distribution platforms available you can release your book in print or electronically and distribute through channels that will reach all the major online retailers, most of the brick & mortar stores, as well as libraries. And with my four years of product marketing experience at Focus on the Family and having an established readership with my traditionally published series, I felt this was the best option for the series. So here we are, in the midst of creating Sages of Darkness series together. And as I mentioned for as low as $5 you can get your name in the acknowledgements of the books. 

What inspires your work? Where do you turn when you need a renewal of inspiration? 

Brock: I truly believe inspiration comes directly from our Creator, you can read an article I did about just that HERE. I believe that as I write God is speaking to me through my imagination, and I’m interpreting those thoughts as I put them down on paper. 

He surrounds us with a beautiful world full of inspiration. Like I said I live in Colorado, and a quick drive into the mountains can fill my mind with knew thoughts and inspiration. 

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the writing process? 

Brock: My favorite is just flowing, slamming the keys and letting the ideas spew onto the page. I like to lay down my full story or chapter and not let up until it’s down. This can be of course very dangerous, entire chapters or events are laid out that aren’t in my outline, and by the time I let up, I’m struck with, “Oh crud how did I get here and what do I do now?” If you’ve ever heard that a character can come to life to an author, it’s so true. 

Sitting and pondering is one of my least favorite parts of the process. I mean it’s good, but the instead of pondering I’d rather by putting the idea down. 

Another think I dislike, is when I get moving on an idea and I need to slow down for description or to fill in certain areas that provide needed information. I know it’s necessary to help with the deepening of the story and give the readers a breather, but it can be time consuming and slow my pace. To alleviate the potential for losing creative momentum I usually make a note to come back and fill in that area later. And yes I end up really liking those parts of the book, the detail areas. 

Another area I don’t care for is the cutting process during editing. I’ve been pretty blessed by my publisher, to not have to do a lot of it, but there are things that have to change, and it’s a bummer when you think your idea, phrase, character, or description is awesome, and you learn maybe not so great as you thought. But that’s the nice thing about the author editor relationship, they help to look at the book from another perspective, and usually they’re right. They want you want after all; a stronger book for the readers.

What are you actively writing right now? 

Brock I am working on the edits for Tangle, book 4 in The Quest for Truth. It’s been a fun series to write, and I am feeling melancholy as I near the end. Probably one of the reasons it is taking me so long to write and edit this book. Tangle is also the book when many of the story lines draw together and we see the collision of all the forces at work in the series. There is one more in TQ4T to write, Hope, and I look forward to digging into it. Though, I fear how large of a book it might turn out to be.

Would you share a short snippet from HowlSage?


Excerpt from

HOWLSAGE
By Brock Eastman



The sun set a half hour ago leaving Ashley Meadows in a cloak of moonlight. I’m flying over the mines when an alarm at the local jeweler’s goes off. McGarrett confirms the HowlSage’s presence from looking at the jewelry stores security camera feed; though it’s black and white, grainy, and low quality footage.
I change direction and twist the throttle on the J-Pak. The thrust increases and I surge forward on silken black wings. I’m over the forest and at the edge of town, when one of the engines misfires. It drives me down. I pull up on the controls, but don’t miss the wispy branches of a willow. Three dozen branches tear across my exposed neck; thankfully my eyes are covered by goggles. The five-story building housing the jewelry store is in sight.
“Taylor, it’s escaping. It’s heading to the roof,” McGarrett’s voice echoes in my ear-buds. I don’t speak. I focus on my target.
An engine on the J-Pak misfires again.
Spiraling toward the ground, I pull back but the wings don’t respond. The pavement nears. And within a couple dozen feet I get control, I zip upward barely missing the brick exterior of a three story building.
I land on the west side of the roof with my sword drawn. I slip off my goggles since the roof is semi-lit from a light next to the roof access door.
The roof access is less than thirty feet away. A deafening crash echoes from the metal door as it flies forward and scrapes against the ground; a twisted scrap of metal.
This is my first look at the demon. The wolf-like beast steps out of the dark stairway; jagged teeth, glowing yellow eyes, and sharply pointed ears. Dark brown matted fur covers all but its chest. The HowlSage glares at me and flashes its white razor sharp teeth in what can only be described as a smile. Saliva drips from it, exploding in green spurts of flame as each acidy drop hits the ground. Yes, green fire; an irrefutable sign of a HowlSage.
Pull yourself together, I think.
I raise my sword to attack. It has nowhere to go with only the edge of the roof behind it. A glint of light draws my attention to the demon’s right paw. A long silvery chain with a ruby pendant dangles from its claws. Silver?
The HowlSage snarls, narrowing its eyes. It hunches to lunge at me. I tell myself I’m ready, but the moisture on the hilt of my sword signals otherwise.
The demon bares its teeth in a wide grin of sorts then jumps backward off the roof. Its smile told me all I needed to know; this is nothing more than a game. And I am losing.
 

________________________________


Thank you so much, Brock! That was a thrilling and excerpt and a fascinating interview. I enjoyed featuring you here and hope to have you back again soon.

What do you think, dear readers? Intrigued? Well, I hope so, because Brock is offering an awesome giveaway for all of you . . . one lucky winner will win the first three books in the Quest for Truth series! That's right . . . all three, in print! Just in time to read up on them and get ready for book four to release . . .


So be certain to enter your name in the Rafflecopter below for a chance to carry home the prize. And be certain to leave any questions and thanks for Brock in the comments below!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 comments:

Allison Ruvidich said...

Your books sound wonderful, and I'm really impressed with your background in marketing! Do you market your own books? What type of marketing do you do for them?

Sierra Faith said...

These books have always looked amazing!!! I love fantasy! Would love to win! And If I don't I plan on getting this books somehow!

Anonymous said...

The covers for the Quest of Truth books are good -- especially the Tangle! I should try the series someday.

Rachel said...

Thanks so much for the great interview! I would love to get a copy of this series!

Brock Eastman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brock Eastman said...

@Allison Yep I love marketing and I indeed market my own books. When I Was at Focus on the Family I'd brainstorm and work on the promotional plan for the series. I try to do the same for P&R and provide them with a big long wish list of ideas. I also use social media as much as possible; facebook, twitter, youtube, pinterest, an e-newsletter, and my website. It's a lot of fun and since I love marketing, I enjoy it.

Brock Eastman said...

@Sierra I'm glad you're interested and I hope you win too! But if not check out BrockEastman.com to order signed copies! Out of curiosity, what do you mean always looked amazing? I'd love to know where you've seen them promoted before?

Brock Eastman said...

@Rachel glad you enjoyed the interview. @Anonymous if you don't win I hope you will indeed try it out!

Merenwen Inglorion said...

All of your books sound so cool!!
My siblings need quality reads, so I'll definitely be checking all of these out! And I wouldn't mind reading them myself... ;)

Even if the story is geared more towards a younger audience, I find myself drawn to it if a) the story is good and b) God is the focus! Either obviously or as the "elusive" More that everyone searches for.

Were the covers for the Sages of Darkness series inspired by the Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith covers? Saw the similarity and had to ask :).

Thanks!

God bless,
-Merenwen

Brock Eastman said...

@Merenwen I looked up the covers, as far as I knew the artist did not. And when I checked the release date those books came out in 2012, these covers were designed in 2010. :) Maybe they thought these covers rocked! :)

I hope you will check out The Quest for Truth. Please let me know what you think of the series.

Also $5 gets your name in the back of the Sages of Darkness books, but there is only 60 hours left to join the KickStarter.

Emily said...

OMG! I loved the Adventures in Odyssey when I was little! You Rock!!!!

Brock Eastman said...

@Emily who is your favorite character?

Becky said...

Thank you for the interview, Mr. Eastman and Anne Elisabeth. It was all very interesting. Kickstarter is a new idea to me, but I'm glad to hear about it, as well as your professional story.

My family has been huge Adventures in Odysseyfans for about 20 years, as well as fans of Focus on the Family. We haven't heard some of the more recent Odysseys, but when I do hear them, I haven't been disappointed. Some of our favorite characters are Eugene, Connie, Mr. Whitaker, Tom Riley, Wooten, and Jimmy! Our all-time favorite show is "Aloha Oy!" with "Back to Bethlehem" close behind.

Thank you for shining the Truth through your work.

Brock Eastman said...

@Becky you're welcome and hanks for the delightful comments. It was a blessing to work on Adventures in Odyssey.

Sarah said...

Wow. HowlSage looks really cool. I want to read it now.

Brock Eastman said...

@Sarah I am glad you think so. The great news is the KickStarter is fully funded so the books will get released. As a caution don't purchase the old HowlSage version that is still out there. It will be outdated when I release the new version spring 2015. Join the KickStarter before midnight tonight and you can nab some cool rewards.

J.F. Dreamrider said...

Once I picked up this series I was totally engrossed! I loved it how the kids were a family.

Brock Eastman said...

J.F. Thank you I am glad to hear it. WHo was your favorite character if you had one, or a favorite part perhaps?

Brock Eastman said...

@Micailah I just like to read a lot. Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, all great movies and books. But what helps me the most is listening to soundtracks.

Teish said...

Your books come highly recommended from a friend of mine! I absolutely love the science fiction and fantasy genre of books, but it sure is hard to find kid appropriate stuff in either of those genres! Thanks for giving me options that I can let my kids read!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing a giveaway.

-Caitlyn

Brock Eastman said...

@Teish Thanks for the encouragement and tell your friend thanks. If you hop on over to my website you can sign up for my enewsletter so you wont miss the release of Tangle when it comes out. Thanks again for your encouragement. Now back to editing book 4