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Adam Interviews...JD Estrada!

Okay, I'll keep the shouting down to a minimum - I know it's The Day After. That much green can't be good for your system, and I don't care how you took it in!

Did you know that March 17th is a legal holiday in Suffolk County (Boston) and Somerville, MA?

It's the day in 1776 that the British withdrew their troops from Boston, after George Washington emplaced cannons on Dorchester Heights. As a child growing up in Massachusetts, it meant that we had a bonus holiday!

Enough of the past. Today we have one interview, and it's with a friend of mine, JD Estrada. Although JD Estrada currently resides in Atlanta, GA, home shall always be Puerto Rico. With 22 published works and many more on the way, Estrada likes to explore a variety of genres including urban fantasy, middle-grade, poetry, non-fiction, and horror in both English and Spanish because if variety is the spice of life, then let things be spicy. Beyond books, he is also a Creativity Ambassador with a sock collection that borders on the ludicrous and is the original banana secret agent #00Bananas. If you don’t know what that is, check that hashtag for some silly. If that wasn’t enough, he’s also the host of #MarchOfTheWriters a yearly tradition where 31 prompts are designed to inspire authors to connect with fellow authors as well as offering their readers a deep dive into who and how they are.z


For Writing Out Loud Blog – 

Firefly – gone too soon or overrated?

This is an interesting question because it begs the question, would they have botched a second season? For me, I was impressed with how fresh, surprising, complex, and varied it was. The entire cast was brilliant and on point, and simply put, when that happens, everyone’s a winner. It’s a unique space, western, Asian hybrid that I would gladly watch again. So count me in the Gone Too Soon Team. If I watch it again and I change my opinion, I’ll make sure to get in touch to update.

Reboots – a great idea or a lack of creativity?

Absolute lack of creativity and content generated with return of investment written all over it. Only reboot I think was worthwhile was Oceans 11 and it’s a WHOLE different take. But live-action, reboots, and lazy sequels are an absolute waste of time and money. Tell me one Transformers movie that didn’t suck. Tell me one GI JOE movie that wasn’t garbage. Tell me that Twisters is a good idea. If you want to continue an existing IP, put in the work. For a good example, look at what Twin Peaks did. Took ALL the risks, went off the rocker, and still delivered. Now tell me there’s any logical reason why Poseidon exists when you have the Poseidon Adventure. Beyond the wave CGI, everything else wasn’t just subpar, it sucked.

A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)?

When Christie Stratos finally releases her Vella stories in book form, I’ll flock like a madman. From indie authors, she’s one of my autobuys, and for good reason. Beyond that, I’m consistently behind the times and read years after release most times just because I’m an odd duck.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

As a kid, I always said I wanted to be an inventor. I saw Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Absent Minded Professor and that kind of stuck with me. Who knew I’d end up using words to invent worlds?

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Ideas come from any and everywhere and I consume a bunch of media. I’ve read tons of comics and books, I actively read a wide variety of topics, am fascinated by science, watch a lot of standup comedy, listen to ridiculous amounts of music, play video games, and watch a lot of TV and movies. That plus life all feed into the ideas for my books. I can be watching a documentary and find an interesting factoid to dive into deeper at some point. As for ideas, I spoke in March of the Writers about capture tools and I’m a fiend when it comes to capturing ideas. Sometimes it’s a small nugget, and sometimes it’s something intense, but I’m fascinated by creativity and diving into our different soul wells. Another source of ideas and inspiration is all the random foods I try. That exploratory nature opens so many doors.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Working in advertising/communications there’s a whole lot of writing whenever I have a chance. Depending on where I work and workload, this has included me going to lunch with notebooks, or even going to the bathroom to write so I’m not disturbed for a half hour. Lately, I’ve taken the habit of every day working on writing for at least 15 minutes in the morning and 30-45 minutes at night. If I can find a bigger chunk, I take it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love reading, trying new foods, playing video games, playing guitar, and making music, and I shall be a bodyboarder for life. For those who don’t know, bodyboarding or boogieboarding is like surfing, except you do it laying down on a much shorter board, wear swim fins, and your approach to wave riding is much more different. Bodyboarders tend to favor hollower waves and to me, few things feel better than getting a big barrel or busting a big air.

Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?

I have never found any interest whatsoever in the love triangle. Having been in one when I was a teen, that’s not fun or fascinating and the whole Team A or Team B dynamic is 100% toxic. No thanks. A recurring trope or theme is manners and the importance of them.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

How healing and personal it can become. The last 10 chapters of Shadow of a Human were intensely cathartic and often when I write poetry, I’m practicing what I call emotional alchemy, i.e., taking something negative and creating something positive from it. When it comes to my blog and non-fiction, everything I write is to make sense of reality as I face it. It’s amazing how much it’s helped me to handle some very heavy situations and I always recommend people to give writing a try. Who knows? It could help more than you imagine.

Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Hold yourself to the highest standard, but be kind to yourself. It’s a fine line between good enough and perfectionistic tendencies. Allow yourself to make mistakes and embrace them, taking them as opportunities to include something you didn’t expect. Also, always keep learning and look for your method but mix it up as often as possible. That last one is because I know people who land in writer’s block and their method doesn’t work for X or Y. Creativity isn’t limited to what you write but how you write. Write with your non-dominant hand. Explore aromatherapy or explore your senses. Write in a notebook BY HAND. Do voice to text. Invite yourself to experiment and above all, play and enjoy yourself. I know writing can be a serious business and is the livelihood for many people, which is why I recommend doing anything to make it as enjoyable as possible.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

My door is always open and readers are kind enough to stay in touch. I have many people say many kind things and the highest compliment is to have people read across genres and encourage me to keep exploring. I’ve had to work several years to prove that I can write beyond one genre and many people tag along. I’ve also had a lot of people say that a poem, an essay, a story, or a novel helped them through a rough patch. I’ve experienced that, reading special books when I’ve been broken, so to know I have been able to write something that can do that for someone else means a lot to me.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Writing and talking about writing always revs me up. Getting me to stop talking is probably the bigger challenge lol. And when I write and I’m in flow, everything else disappears and there is only the pen, the paper, the story, and the music that’s playing. It’s a special kind of freedom that I can never get enough of.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

Where to begin? Comparing yourself to others is a bad one a LOT of people get caught up on. Remember that people show the highlights and rarely the struggles. Also, there are a LOT of people trying to scam you out of your money. Ask, be wary, exercise caution, read the contracts. Another thing is to suck at taking critique, which can be several ways. Incorporating EVERYTHING everyone says is detrimental to your book and a lot of people querying fall into that and struggle. But also, thinking your God’s gift to literature and not taking advice won’t do you any favors….more on this in the next question.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

If you ask me, even in regards to ego, size matters and a big ego can get you into a lot of trouble. Some people might win an award or have some sort of success and you see how the tone shifts. They may speak with more authority or whatever, and hey it’s their right. The whole thinking you’re better than someone else has never sat well with me and I know some people indie and traditional that I keep some distance from because of that. It’s good to love what you do and be proud of what you do, but being insufferable is never a good look. And also the false humility while holstering a big ole ego is adorable. It’s like, if you’re going to be a dick, at least own it.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

The story dictates what it needs to be. I don’t go out of my way to be more original but I want to write something that engages and surprises. But in my short story collections, I try to flex different muscles to challenge myself. In short story collections, I allow myself to explore the familiar or go OUT there. I think there’s fun to be had inside the box as well as venturing into the great unknown. The main thing is to always be true to my vision and my voice. One of my biggest influences is David Bowie because as an artist he always pushed and explored, but regardless of the genre, it always sounded like Bowie. I want people to read a poem, an essay, a novel, or a short story and say, that’s SO JD, and to enjoy that experience.

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

 Although I make a case for each series and genre to be its own thing, I love connecting things to show that it’s all part of my soul. The name Odstein is recurring in my projects for a very good reason, it’s the surname of my literary persona that appears in my works. You’ll see that there are manufacturing or tech companies that have that name and it’ll often appear in small things as an Easter egg. My literary name is Fäet Odstein, two anagrams for fate, one in English (fate) and one in Spanish (destino)…so yeah, there’s a lot of randomness connecting everything even if it’s in a minor way. I find that fascinating and fun for me.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

A couple of years back I forced myself to stop jotting down and starting new projects. With the last 3 published books, that brings my total down to 25 unfinished projects…and yes, I said projects, not books, because some of the projects have multiple books lol. Trust me, I never get bored.

What do you have coming next?

I have just released Beyond Human, the third book in my Human Cycle series. It’s taken a long time to finish though I think I did right by the story, and all I can hope for is that readers will be satisfied with the conclusion. In addition, I’ll be at the Puerto Rico Comic Con at the end of March, will be offering a writing course in mid-April which I pitched in support of the Shine Bright Academy (a non-profit homeschool co-op for parents), and in June I’ll be participating in the AuthorTube Writer Conference with my presentation titled “Collaborating for the Perfect Cover”. As for my next projects, I’m outlining three novels, two in English and one in Spanish, and I’ll be chipping away at a short story collection of which I’ll be entering some of those stories in contests to see what happens. In the meantime, more shenanigans, banana secret agent silliness, tea drinking, random food tasting, and doing all I can to have fun with what I post on social media. Just search @JDEstradaWriter and if I’m on a platform, you’ll find me, and I’d love to connect.

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