We're so honored to have this next author as our guest today because if you aren't familiar with him, you really should be! Steven Dos Santos is a superhero in his field and If every superhero has a catch phrase his would be:
Embrace the D.A.R.K( Diversity. Action. Romance, KickAss)
Don't you already want to get to know him?
He's got Adventure, He's got diversity, He's got Sci-Fi, so all you have to do is ask yourself this: Why aren't I a fan yet?
Thank you! It’s a real honor to be here! Ever since I was a child I always loved to write. I still remember writing my first “book” in second grade, a seven page fantasy opus, also illustrated by me, called “The Enchanted Prince.” I still have the sole remaining copy out of about seven! LOL!
From there it was writing and recording scripts with my friends based on mash-ups of popular movies of the time (Damien’s Ominous Star Fever comes to mind, a combo of The Omen, Star Wars, and Saturday Night Fever—don’t ask). I also wrote short stories and puzzles for the school newspaper, and a Whodunnit murder mystery play in High School, which put a whole new spin on the “Butler Did it” trope.
But it wasn’t until 2002 that I got really serious about publishing a novel, and wrote my first full length manuscript, a middle grade fantasy called “Darius Devine and the Necromancer’s Curse.” It was shortly after that when I discovered the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators in 2004, through which I met my literary agent in 2009.
2. We're usually most excited when books incorporate diversity, so it's awesome that your "The Torch Keeper" series features queer main character. Was it hard to convince an agent, editor or publishing house to feature a queer character as your leading man?
Oh my, was it hard! When I first started querying agents and stacking up rejections, I actually received an email from an agent that said she absolutely LOVED my book, thought it would make a GREAT series, but could not take me on as a client, as books with gay male protagonists would not appeal to the primarily female, and heterosexual YA audience.
Aside from my jaw-dropping over the incredible lack of understanding regarding reader appeal, it was absolutely devastating to hear that no one would be interested in stories featuring LGBTQ protagonists. Fortunately, I met my current agent shortly after that, and she really believed in the project. But after the manuscript went out on submission, it was obvious there was resistance from publishers because of the gay male component. After an emotional roller coaster ride of rejections and frustration, I finally caught a break when “The Culling” was acquired in 2011. The cast of the sequel, “The Sowing,” is even more diverse, featuring more characters of color, bisexual, and lesbian characters.
3. How did Lucian Spark come to you? Was your final version of him different from his initial concept? Why do you think readers relate to him so much?
The evolution of Lucian Spark has truly been a delight to write. My original concept for the character was a young man who is quite sensitive, a hopeless romantic who has a strong sense of family, and is somewhat naïve. I think many readers can relate to him because there is a strong sense of innocence about him and he is, quite literally, a hopeful spark in all the darkness surrounding him. I deliberately chose to make Lucian a bit too trusting in “The Culling,” because after he endures the horrifying events of the first book, the character becomes stronger, somewhat jaded, consumed by vengeance. Hopefully, this has created an interesting and intense arc, with Lucian wrestling with his dark demons, for better or worse.
4. Has your heritage influenced the characters you write?
Absolutely! Growing up in a close-knit Hispanic family has definitely instilled my characters with certain values, namely, a very strong sense of family and tradition. Though it’s not specifically stated in “The Culling” because it takes place in a distant future where ethnicity isn’t recognized like it is now, Lucian was definitely conceived as being Latino, alluded to in his physical description. Some people have said the glimpses of Lucian seen on the covers for both “The Culling” and “The Sowing” resemble me. I assure you, any resemblance is purely coincidental!
5. Have you always been a lover of speculative fiction? What were some of the things you liked and disliked about your favorite genres?
Yes, I’ve always been fascinated by futuristic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi! What I find most fascinating and frightening is reading a tale where the author takes the seeds planted in current society and allows them to bloom into something destructive that shatters the illusion that things will always remain the same. When you think about the great civilizations that have collapsed in our history, it’s inevitable that our society will eventually fall. No matter how much we’d prefer not to think about it, it seems to be an unavoidable cycle and it’s interesting to delve into the imagination of authors delivering their versions. That being said, the lack of diversity, particularly LGBTQ protagonists, has been very disappointing, and this dearth of representation needs to be addressed.
6. Did any books influence your choice to write books, growing up? What are some of your favorite titles and why?
I would have to say that the works of Stephen King have been a great influence on my decision to write books. I just love how visceral his stories are and his disturbing glimpses into the human psyche. I would say my favorite work by him is “The Stand.” It was so epic! And I thought all of his characterizations in a book with such a huge cast were masterfully crafted.
7. Any plans for your next book? What can we expect to come out of you over the course of 2015?
I’m busy trying to complete a draft of the third book in The Torch Keeper series before the end of 2014. In the meantime, my Young Adult Paranormal/Espionage novel, “Dagger,” is currently out on submission to publishers, so, hopefully, I’ll have some good news soon! I also plan on trying my hand at a thriller in 2015, so I definitely have a full plate!
8. Lastly, where can readers go to get updates on new releases, or funny rants on everything and anything Steven dos Santos?
I always love to hear reader feedback! You can share your thoughts and read up on my current and upcoming projects at www.stevendossantos.com.
And if you’re a fan of The Torch Keeper series, check out the official Fan Forums here.
Thanks again for having me as a guest!
About the Author:
Steven dos Santos is author of THE TORCH KEEPER novels, a Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic series. Book One, THE CULLING, was released by FLUX Books in March of 2013. Book Two, THE SOWING, will be released on March 8, 2014! THE CULLING has been named a TOP TEN Selection of the American Library Association's 2014 Rainbow List.
Please be sure to check out our giveaway! Included are a signed set of Steven's two books The Culling and The Sowing.
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