07 June 2013

Water & Storm Country Blog Tour: Author Interview + Excerpt + Giveaway

Water & Storm Country (Country Saga #3)
by David Estes
Genre: Young Adult Dystopia
Publication: June 6th, 2013
Huck Jones, the son of the admiral of the Soaker fleet, has a legacy to live up to. Haunted by the distorted memories of his mother's untimely death, he must face his demons and the man who raised him as he strives to take the courageous step forward into manhood. When he's transferred to the worst-performing ship in the fleet, everything he believes is called into question when he meets a lowly brown-skinned bilge rat girl. Huck walks a deadly rope...

Meanwhile, Sadie, destined to be a Rider in the Stormer army, seeks to avenge her brother's death at the hands of the Soakers. Trained hard by her mother, an experienced Rider, Sadie knows strength and determination more than most. Her father, a Man of Wisdom, has shown his cowardice more times than she can count. As her world and family fall apart, she must cast aside her anger and focus on the wisdom she's always brushed off as foolishness.

Amidst everything, a Plague ravages all, discriminating against no one.

When four worlds collide, lines will be drawn, sides will be chosen, victory will be sought. Death will be wrought. The mysteries of the Cure for the deadly Plague will be uncovered. Who will survive? And what will those who do learn about themselves and the ones they love?


When the weight of Gard’s heavy hands lifts from the crown of my head, I look up and the war leader nods. I stand to cheers and thunder from stomping feet, stride toward the stables, invincible, where a horse is being led toward me.

With a sleek, black hide, long, black mane, and fierce brown eyes, she’s everything I always imagined she would be. Stamping her feet, pulling at the ropes, snorting heavy plumes of breath out of her flaring nostrils, she’s unbroken.

It takes four strong men, Riders, to control her, and even then, she’s uncontrollable. Wild. Hungry. Mine.

As I approach, I notice a mar on the complete darkness of her coloring: A single patch of white sits high on her nose, almost between her ears, shaped like a butterfly. White wings.

Can she fly?

I’m still admiring her wild and untamed perfection, wondering where she was found, how hard it was for the Horse Whisperers to lure her close enough to capture her, whether she put up a fight, when one of the ropes are thrust into my hands.

Thankfully, I have enough sense to grab it firmly, to hold on, to remember the words my mother taught me, let them flow freely through my mind. I am yours, you are mine, we are one. A warrior and a steed become a Rider. Fight with me even as I fight with you. Separate, our strength is breakable, matched by many; combined, our power is above all, unstoppable.

The words roll over and over in my mind as I take the second rope, walking my hands up the thick strands, feeling them burn my palms as the horse bucks and strains against the bonds that are so foreign to a creature that has known only complete freedom while roaming wild on the plains.

Freedom is an illusion. I’m surprised to hear my father’s words in my head while I’m so focused on approaching my horse. I shake my head and resume my chant, this time out loud, first as a whisper and then louder and louder as I get closer and closer. The horse isn’t calmed by my words, but I know she hears them, because she’s completely focused on me now, and I’m oblivious to the ceremony that continues behind me.

Passion. The name occurs to me just like my mother said it would, right when one of the Riders are thrown down when the horse charges sharply to one side.
“Passion,” I say, and she stands perfectly still, matching the intensity of my gaze. “Sadie.” She snorts, as if my name is but a cricket under the stomp of her grand feet. And so it is.

I shouldn’t be this close, not at the first meeting. My mother told me, but it takes Passion to teach me.

She seems calm since I spoke her name. Her head even bows a little, and my mother said a wild horse will never do that. Already, our bond is special.
I reach forward to rub the white butterfly on her nose.

Her drooping eyes suddenly flash with anger and her head bucks as she leaps forward, butting me, throwing me backward, nearly stomping on my leg as I skid across the grass.


Hi David and welcome to Sab The Book Eater! I’m a big fan of your work, You have no idea how excited I am that you’re here! Are you excited?! (Please say ‘yes.’ *bribes you with candy*)

Awwww! *blushes* Thank you so much and you don’t have to bribe me to say yes! *grabs candy anyway* *munching*

Before I start asking you the more relevant questions (but this is relevant too, trust me), please tell us three weird things about you. Aaaaaand go!

Ha! Double ha! Shoot, brain freeze! Uh, uh, uh, OK here goes:

1) I have big time OCD, like to the point where if certain things aren’t done a certain way then it freaks me out and I get all stressed. Like with writing, for example. Until I’ve gotten my 5,000 words in for the day, I don’t feel cool, calm, and collected. It drives my wife, Adele, nuts, so she usually just locks me in a room with a jug of coffee until I come out. Oh, and I hate sand! I go to the beach all the time, but I’m constantly trying to get the sand off of me. It’s a losing battle, I know.

2) I dance and sing and act quite strange in public places. And related to that, I get random songs stuck in my head that I haven’t heard in years. My only explanation is that I hear them in my dreams and then wake up with them in my head. 

3) My arch nemesis is a cute (but maniacal) teddy bear that Adele has had since she was little. Affectionately named “Teddy”, from the very beginning when Adele and I were just dating, he’s always liked me since I took some of her attention away from him. It might also be because I like to chuck him against the wall. Anyway, we talk about Teddy far more than “normal” people would, and he was even the inspiration for a fan favorite character in my book, Fire Country. The character’s name is Perry…and he’s a cactus.

I love the one about Teddy. I have plenty of stuffed animals myself. And I'm pretty obsessed with them. Heehee. ANYWAY! So David, what motivated you to write another dystopia series after The Dwellers?

Great question! I guess this is the start of the “serious” questions ;) Honestly, it was a single character that inspired me, Siena. One day while I was writing the second book in the Dwellers Saga, The Star Dwellers, Siena just appeared in my head. It was incredible how she just started talking to me and how she wouldn’t shut up. She’s someone who speaks to you loud and clear, like no one else you’ve ever met before, and she basically just wrote herself, which is a rare and awesome thing. Her language is colorful and interesting and very, very, real, because she tells me each and every thing she wants to say! 

At first she was just a potential new character for the 4th Dwellers book, but then she became so important and so real-sounding in my head that I knew she needed her own book, and even her own series. So nothing really inspired The Country Saga, it was just one of those writer’s moments when everything comes together in your head and you know you have a story to tell.

You seem to churn out books so quickly! I mean, Ice Country was just released last April and now we have the last book in The Country Saga. How do you do it? What’s your writing schedule like, David?

In short, CRAZYTOWN! In the year since becoming a fulltime writer (June 2012), I’ve published 10 books (6 YA and 4 Children’s). That kind of production comes from spending a lot of time writing and having a very well-organized publishing process. First, the writing. When I’m working on a project, I write about four hours a day at 1,250 words per hour. So 5,000 words per day, usually in the morning. That allows me to finish a typical 90,000-word YA novel in 18 days. I don’t take days off, not even weekends. Every day, no exceptions. I treat it like any other job. And that’s only the writing part. Another four hours a day are typically spent on promotional activities, like interacting with readers, blog posts, interviews, giveaways, etc. 

But to publish a book every two months or so, there has to be more than just time for writing. Once I complete a well-self-edited draft manuscript, I give it to my awesome beta readers. I usually give them 3 weeks to read it and provide feedback. During that time, I don’t look at my manuscript. I need time away from it, and that gives me time to start planning to publish, doing things like working with my cover artist to design an appropriate cover, planning a blog tour, drafting a release blog post, etc. 

Finally, once I get the feedback from my betas, it’s time to spend some serious time editing and rewriting. I allow myself a week in the process to do this. It sounds short, but if you’re spending 7 days fulltime working on your book, you can accomplish quite a lot. Once the final draft is ready, I read it three or four times, at least once aloud, to ensure it’s exactly the way I want it to be. Then I prepare the ARCs and get them out to my Street Team members so they can read, review, and hopefully love it and start building hype. 

And of course, the final step is formatting it for print and the various forms of ebook so I publish! It’s a lot to accomplish in two months but I try to stay ahead of schedule, and to avoid getting burnt out, I occasionally build in three months between book to give myself a break, like I’ve done between Water & Storm Country and the 7th and final book in the combined Dwellers/Country Saga series, titled The Earth Dwellers, set for release on September 5th of this year!

Woah it does sound like crazytown! Now let's talk about what goes on in your books. I really like the world building in your dystopia novels. What’s the writing process like when you come up with the different worlds?

Thanks so much! I’m so pleased you pointed that out and asked this question. With dystopian novels, world building is as important as anything you do, and it’s something that can either make or break your book. So I definitely focus significantly on this aspect. I don’t really use a strict writing process, preferring to let my imagination run wild, but I usually try to come up with the key ingredients for my world. What’s the setting? What kind of people would live there? What problems would the world have? What’s the role of the government/leaders, if any? What happened to make the world this way? Regardless of whether I decide to give my readers the answers to these questions right away, later on, or at all, I need to know the answers. However, no matter how much I think about it before hand, my worlds always tend to evolve in ways I didn’t even expect them to! That’s the fun part ;)

Where did you find the inspiration for Water & Storm Country?

Well, the whole concept behind the Country Saga is that each of the “tribes” live in very different climates. From the deserts of Fire Country to the snowy mountains of Ice Country, the first two books really came alive in my mind. I knew I wanted the third book to be just as vivid as the first two, and I had two competing ideas, one around people living on ships (almost like pirates) and sailing the oceans, and another around people living on the beaches and flatlands where great storms are frequent and a part of life. When it came down to it, I couldn’t decide so I just did both, building my plot around both tribes and how they’re connected to the tribes in fire and ice country. In the end, I think it made for a really compelling story with very contrasting people. I hope you all will love it!

What did you do differently in this last installment?

The first two books in this series were from a single main character’s perspective. Fire Country was from Siena’s perspective and Ice Country from Dazz’s. In Water & Storm Country, I once again go back to the dual-point of view style, with a male and a female, similar to the Dwellers Saga. This was necessary to really bring alive the two distinct worlds I’ve created in the third book.

The other thing I hope I did, is create a couple of characters that have a lot to learn and have to start pretty young and na├»ve in order to really find themselves. There’s some degree of that in both Fire Country and Ice Country, but in Water & Storm Country I think it’ll be even more apparent to readers.

In a nutshell, tell us what readers can expect from Water & Storm Country.

Like all my books, action, action, action, a very light touch of romance, some pretty shocking and suspenseful moments, and of course, more of the characters you know and love from both Fire Country and Ice Country. Finally, for fans of the Dwellers Saga, you’ll finally (FINALLY!) get to see how everything comes full circle and how Adele and Tristan end up meeting Skye, Siena and Wilde. That’s probably what I’m most excited about!

*shrieks* I really, really, really want to see how Adele and Tristan fit into all this!!! I love those two! Thanks, David. But the interview's not quiet over yet because it's time for....


Place you’d really like to visit but haven’t yet: 
Greek Isles, ever since watching The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants
Something you always carry around with you: 
my iPhone, for jotting down book ideas and connecting with readers
Quick fix to a bad day: 
hug from Adele and ice cream, do I need to explain these two?
Author you’d want to work with someday: 
Patrick Ness! OMG his Chaos Walking series is the best of the best of YA dystopian
Complete the sentence, “If you’re happy and you know it……” 
sing in the shower!

About the author
David Estes

David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been happily married to for more than two years.

A reader all his life, David began writing novels for the children's and YA markets in 2010, and has completed 14 novels, 12 of which have been published. In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now travelling the world with Adele while he writes books, and she writes and takes photographs.

David gleans inspiration from all sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things, dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and even from thin air sometimes!

David’s a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table. He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends.




  1. I loved the interview and the post looks awesome!

  2. Thanks so much!! I had a blast doing this interview :)

  3. Awesome interview! :) Books sound awesome.

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