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Rose Estes: On An Unstoppable Endless Quest
Today, Rediscovered Realms is honored to be speaking with Rose Estes – the very creator of TSR’s Endless Quest books, which were so monumental in drawing kids into reading and fantasy back in the early 80s. They were a gateway for me, a driving force for lifelong reading as well as a major inspiration for starting this newsletter.
JQ: Rose, thank you for joining me on Rediscovered Realms! First, let me say congratulations for being inducted into “The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame” last year.
The curator, Michael Elliot credited you with drawing countless people into Tabletop Role Playing Games and helping make the $12-billion industry what it is today.
Tell us about this award and how it feels to know you’ve had such an impact on the world?
RE: To understand the impact the award has had on my life, you'd have to know what happened before. After leaving TSR and signing with Random House, Bantam, Putnam Berkeley and others, I had transitioned into Rose the Writer.
That was who I was until 1994 when I was a passenger in a vehicle that was T Boned, on my side of the car. I suffered a closed head injury and it was eventually discovered that it had "killed" the part of the brain that retrieves vocabulary.
Ironic, no? Because I had an extensive vocabulary before the accident, I seemed fine to everyone else. But I wasn't. Words no longer sprang easily to mind and I felt as though I were stumbling in the dark searching without finding and struggling with my very thoughts.
Oddly enough, before the accident, I had always struggled to find plots and used to beg friends like Jim Ward to give me ideas. Once I had the idea, I was good but until then, it was a desert.
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But after the accident ideas sprung forth unbidden like weeds after rain. It was overwhelming. And there was no way to shut them off, ideas and wild unrelated thoughts each screaming to be heard. It was too much! My brain was bedlam but I was without the ability to impose order or give word to explain what was happening. I've always thought of it as if going from black and white Kansas to technicolor Oz.
The experts all told me that the brain does not rewire itself and what I had was my new reality, which as you might imagine was very depressing.
But fortunately, due to the many serious closed head injuries suffered by football players and those in other sports, sports medicine was coming to the fore with new research and new information. They reported (I read it in Time magazine) that the brain does rewire itself, finding and forging new paths. And, so it was with my brain, but it took a long time and it changed me.
I was overcome by a terrible depression that lasted for years. I felt lost. If I weren't Rose the Writer, who was I? I had numerous contracts at the time of the accident which I was mostly unable to fulfill.
My partner, Tom Wham, would set me up in the morning before he went to work. He'd give me an outline of what I had to write that day and leave me in a dark room with only the computer on, cutting down on all external distractions and in that manner I completed several books and was able to eke out an existence. Bill Fawcett acquired several contracts for me that were written like that with both his and Tom's assistance.
Desperately needing a do over, I left Wisconsin and moved to the Central Oregon Coast in 2002. The close proximity to the ocean did a lot to calm my mind and while I was still fighting depression, things slowly got better.
I started small and wrote three books of nonfiction about dogs. Nonfiction to me is much, much easier than fiction and I self-published which was far easier than working for a publisher and checking all the boxes fitting into another's schedule. All three books sold out of respectable print runs and that gave me a lot of confidence to go forward.
To be honest, the TSR days and the Endless Quest books didn't figure in my thoughts at all at this time. It was just something that had happened to me in the past, while I was struggling daily to have a future.
Many things happened in these years. I married a man named Gary Hauser and when he became ill, I took over running his gallery. I expected that it would be temporary until he got better and came back. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and he died in 2011.
Once again I was overcome by depression. Lost. I decided not to close the gallery, it seemed to be his legacy as he had never had children and it felt wrong to close. But, I couldn't do what he did and when I asked him what I should do, he said "follow your passions," which gave me a direction to follow.
Now, over the years, the Hauser Gallery, located in the tiny town of Seal Rock, Oregon (population 400) has become a destination point and is filled with wondrous things gathered from all the places in the world that I would have liked to travel to.
And Dragons. In all shapes and sizes. We are known locally as the “Dragon Gallery” and have become a destination point rather than a casual stop. And I have learned just how much everyone loves dragons. Not just children, mostly adults.
It was into this new life that the award came.
At first, I was merely bemused. I nearly deleted Mike Elliott's email, thinking it was spam. How could such a thing be? In the first place, it had happened 40 years ago!
In the second place, it had all come about because of a fluke. I had never even thought of writing a book. I'd been a journalist, but books? No, I never thought I had a book in me. It felt like a mistake.
The Endless Quest's weren't deemed important in the company, at least I'd never felt that way. I'd always felt out of the loop with the company, never felt a deep connection with them. While I wasn't actually on adversarial terms with management, I didn't feel that they actually liked me and that hurt because I loved the company.
For those reasons, and more, it was hard for me to take the award seriously. I really couldn't wrap my head around it. But people who worked with me at the gallery took it seriously and notified the local papers who also took it seriously and several long interviews followed along with photos of me and the books.
There have been numerous podcasts and my oldest son, Daniel, even has an Instagram account called Return to Brookmere with over 2,000 followers!
And people have started arriving at the gallery carrying their dog-eared books that they've kept for 40 years! I don't even have a single book I've kept for 40 years!
I was dumbfounded. But it has continued to happen and people are writing to me and everyone is saying how much the E.Q's mattered to them and made profound impressions.
At first, I was incredulous but as I hear it over and over again I have finally accepted that something I did truly made a difference in people's lives.
So, to finally answer your question, the award has given validity to my life.
I have made a difference and truly, when you think about it, isn't that all we can really hope for in this brief span of time we've been given--to make a positive difference in someone's life? Even if it did happen because of a fluke. It mattered.
Hear Rose Estes accept her award and talk about the Endless Quest origin story!
JQ: I’m speechless. There were so many challenges, disappointments and unknowns you faced down. It makes my heart glad that people have made it known to you how important your books were to them from their childhoods all the way through adulthood. You’re right, it did matter.
Now Rose, from what I’ve read and what you just told me, you’ve had a very colorful and interesting life so far. You learned to read at the age of 2, grew up to be a self-proclaimed hippie for a while, had several different careers from newspaper reporter to author to gallery curator, multiple life-changing accidents & health issues including losing your ability to effectively formulate words - and you were the longest record holder NY Times bestselling author until JK Rowling. There was even a time as an adult you joined the circus! Wow.
RE: I came along too late be an actual hippie. But I did live deep in the mountains of British Columbia in a log cabin in the tiny village of Brookmere (population 16) with my husband, before the children came along, for two years and that was an idealistic time of peacefulness that I look back on fondly.
JQ: Now that you’ve just achieved 83 years young, when you look back at all of that, what lessons or experiences stand out to you as the most significant and why?
RE: If there's a lesson to be learned from all that's happened in my life, I'd say that it can be important to take risks. Although I didn't realize it as it was happening, I've had a lifelong habit of taking risks and while some have been mistakes (a few could even be called disastrous), they've opened doors that a more cautious person would never have found and they have enriched my life in a great many ways. It's also important to note that these choices frequently did not seem risky, but merely more interesting than other options.
JQ: Wow, that advice hits me right in the gut. If I think about it, it’s many of the scary/risky things I attempted (bruises and all) that have led to my greatest growth and successes. Anything you wish you could get a do-over for (or do again!)?
RE: If I had a do over, I would like to live my life with less personal drama. I was raised in a family with copious amounts of high drama. It's a waste of time and energy and does a lot of damage. I wish I could have told myself to be more straightforward-say what you mean and mean what you say, even if it's hard.
It would have been very helpful to understand depression. Sometimes depression occurs because of temporary circumstances. But sometimes it's a medical issue and not something that one can fix on their own. Medical intervention with understanding of your particular type and proper medication can make a world of difference. Literally. Don't think of it as a personal flaw - that you can fix yourself if you just try harder.
JQ: Thank you for the concentrated wisdom and for being so vulnerable with sharing that, Rose.
While we’re delving a bit into the past, I saw that you are a big J.R.R Tolkien fan. I am too. Tell us about experiencing Tolkien in your life and the effect it had on you.
RE: While we were driving cross country on our way to Canada in 1969 I discovered Tolkien and it quite literally exploded in my mind.
I raced through each book and anguished when I could not find the next one. I'd NEVER read anything like him and became literally obsessed.
All three of my birth children have names from the trilogy: Daniel Aragorn, Lydia Arwen and Max Samwise. It was almost Max Boromir but in my culture we name children after those family members we've lost and I had recently lost an uncle Sam. Their names were chosen before they were ever conceived.
JQ: I heard a little birdie somewhere that you even created a Lord of the Rings Find Your Fate book that never got published! Is this true, and if so, how much money do you want for that draft? Would $2 million cover it?
RE: Yes, the birdie told you correctly. As part of the inducement to sign with them, Random House offered the opportunity to write the prequel to The Hobbit. It's my understanding that Christopher Tolkien and two of his aunts liked what I wrote but one aunt disagreed and all had to agree before the project could go forward. I read only recently that someone had been chosen. They also offered an Indiana Jones book, an Alfred Hitchcock Three Investigators book (I'd never heard of it) and a ten book contract.
Putnam/Berkeley offered five books and the opportunity to write a book on the making of the movie Dune. I'd have been sent to Chihuahua, Mexico immediately. I hate the heat and desolation of Chihuahua and didn't like Dune all that much so it was an easy decision. There were other offers as well.
Although we've found the first of the four original hand written (on legal pads) EQ's, I have no idea where the first draft of The Hobbit prequel is or if I still even have it.
JQ: Well, you let me know if you ever find it! Were there other fantasy influences you had in your childhood?
RE: My father and his mother were both storytellers and I heard all the classic fairy tales as well as original stories and European staples like the Russian Baba Yaga (who scared me to death) and golems, live Yiddish theater, movies, books and a radio program called “Let's Pretend”.
The first Indiana Jones electrified me and I bought the screenplay the very next day. I credit the opening scene of that Indiana Jones movie and serialized Saturday movie cartoons with forging my style of chapter ending cliffhangers.
I also saw a lot of classic ballet and opera due to my father's love of theater in any form. But his influence in turning me into a reader at such a young age as well as seeing probably every movie released in the first ten years of my life were also a huge influence.
JQ: Now, before we move on to the TSR days, you mentioned the dog books you wrote. It sounds like you have a huge passion for dogs and dog ephemera. What is it about dogs that you love so much?
RE: Dogs. Don't know what I can say about them that hasn't been said a hundred million times already. They are nonjudgmental and given love, they return it without conditions.
I was taught how to be a better person from the dogs in my life. On the other hand, cats ARE judgmental and do not love as easily. They held me to a higher standard which I still strive to achieve.
Dogs will listen to you ramble on and even pretend to be interested. Cats don't, but they communicate on a deeper/different level. I guess that's why I find it comfortable with talking animals in my stories. It feels natural to me.
JQ: OK. TSR. Late 70s. You were hired by fledgling TSR to do whatever needed doing as a startup needs, but wound up dealing with angry people & clergy who were calling in about the “Satanic Panic” – that time when Dungeons & Dragons was being vilified in the media due to false allegations and misunderstandings. TSR employees couldn’t even get through the doors with the protestors at some points.
You stated in an interview, “I was talking to ministers, teachers and parents who apparently thought we were leading their children into demon worship,”
“The rest of the company was so new and so unaware of how the rest of the world works, they thought if you just didn’t answer the phone or talk to any reporters, then the whole thing would go away. Instead, it just got worse and worse.”
What was the craziest thing you remember from that time, and were there any skills you acquired from it that helped you later in your career?
RE: Hmmm. I'm not sure about that. Talking has always been easy for me, even talking to strangers of any sort. I suppose my early years in journalism made it an even greater ability/strength. I've often said that you could shove me onto a stage in a theater filled to the brim with people and give me a sentence/a word and I could talk for hours. I have no fear of crowds or audiences.
JQ: There’s something I’d like for you to clear up for me, please. The Wikipedia article about you states that you were TSR’s 13th employee.
Tom Wham, your partner of several years, is in a Wikipedia article that states HE was TSR’s 13th employee.
Who’s fibbing here?
RE: Tom was hired much, much earlier than I was. In fact, Brian Blume agreed to hire me before he even met me, just because Tom asked him to.
JQ: By the way, there was a recent eBay auction for Tom’s 1978 TSR “Snits Revenge Bolotomus” plush toy, based on his popular game. Can you believe it sold for $1,136?!
RE: Wow! That's wild! Too bad Tom didn't sell it. I think he still has one on his bookcase. I remember the Bolotomus-stuffing party that we had once, it was a lot of fun. I even have some pictures.
JQ: Cool - Let us know when you dig those pictures up!
Rose, when I started Rediscovered Realms, I began to discover a lot about the creators behind the scenes of my favorite games, artwork, books & magazines. In my article about TSR’s Conan RPG, I tried to discover more about Ruth Hoyer, who’s name was listed in so many TSR games, mags and modules. I’ve asked other TSR employees of the era, including Clyde Caldwell, Jeff Easley, Jeff Butler and Margaret Weis, but can’t seem to find out more about her.
She worked her way up to art director and even had a Dragon magazine article featuring her. Do you happen to know anything more about her. Her maiden name looks like it was Ruth Hodges.
RE: I've never even heard of her. She must have come after me.
JQ: Curses! Foiled again in finding out more about Ruth! All my hope now rests in David “Diesel” LaForce - I mean, he is sitting right next to her in the picture above. May LaForce be with us.
By the way, this isn’t the first time Rediscovered Realms has talked about Rose Estes. In fact, my 1st article was about my original “Mountain of Mirrors” Endless Quest book!
JQ: Rose, your demonic telesales skills appear to have led you organically & eventually to TSR’s Education department. Was this created in response to the “Satanic Panic”, or were there other reasons behind the decision?
RE: I don't think that had anything to do with it. I wrote the first four books and they were thrown into production so fast that no one had given any thought to where they would fit into the organization.
I think it only became an issue when we started getting tons of mail from kids and teachers. I don't understand now nor did I understand then why it needed to be a separate division called education. That's the only reason I can think of, teachers and kids. But maybe labeling them education took some of the sting out of the satanic inference.
By the way, Rose hardly ever signs books for those who ask - she instead inscribes them with personal memories, feelings & history! (There are some really fascinating gems in these pages)
JQ: It sounds like you were acquainted with and were instrumental in the hiring of Jean Black (Blashfield), who headed that Education department. Does that sound right?
RE: Jim Ward was our boss. I loved working with Jim and he was much better at interfacing with management than I was. He mostly left us alone.
Jean was a sweetheart. She and I were called into a meeting with Duke Siefert where management of the "department" was discussed. I didn't realize it was essentially an interview. The subject of spreadsheets came up. I'd never heard of them and said so. Jean had. She was made head of the department. Which was fine with me. I just wanted to be left alone and write. I could not have handled all the meetings and associated crap and ridiculous reports and paperwork. Not my thing.
JQ: You and me both - I hate useless meetings & reports!
I also understand that Jean - who you helped get hired - wound up hiring Margaret Weis, half the creative team of Dragonlance fame. So, the way I look at it, Rose, you were single-handedly responsible for bringing Dragonlance into our world too! Another childhood watershed moment for me and millions of others. How does that strike you?
RE: I didn't know that either! Dragonlance took fantasy to a whole different level for me as well. Hard to take any credit for that though. Just a happy occurrence no matter how it came about.
JQ: In the shadows and lore of TSR, there were tales of educational adventures that were created using D&D to teach academic subjects – adventures that were never released to the public. Were you involved with any of these, and if so, what do you remember?
RE: Boy, I'm certainly sounding clueless here. But, it should be mentioned that I was the very last person to leave the Hotel Clair in downtown Lake Geneva where we were based when I was hired. I never went to the new building.
I'm extremely claustrophobic and the building had no windows. I had to get a note from my doctor saying so! At that point, they let me write from home. I was the first person to do that. I don't know anything about this.
Sadly, Jean Black has passed on, entirely too early! But Jim Ward would be the person to ask. I really had zero interaction with management at this point. I had deadlines and I wrote. That was pretty much it.
The atmosphere had changed dramatically from the early days when we were all part of the whole, working closely toward a common goal. It had become corporate. I was not a corporate type person and could not fit into that mold.
JQ: No problem, but I bet you’ll find this interesting - recently, Jim Ward has been unloading some of his TSR possessions on eBay, and I came across these! (Some other lucky collector(s) won them however)
RE: It makes me shudder. I could never have done that.
JQ: LOL! Who was Dr. Snow? I wasn’t able to find any other information on him.
RE: Don Snow was a really terrific guy. I liked him a lot. He was brought on before the corporate building existed. I reported to him. We got along well. He gave me a lot of good advice on how to interact with management.
I recently found a folder of personnel comments on my employment. It was reported [not by Don Snow] that "I was difficult to control." I have to say that I found that very hurtful.
Don's method of working with me was to act as an interface between management and myself. I literally had no contact with them, everything went through Don and he did not try to control me. As long as I met my deadlines, everything was cool. And I always did. Except once when I accidentally erased an entire book and had to rewrite it in a week.
JQ: Rewrite an entire book in a week?! That’ll teach ya.
Ok, so I can’t wait any longer to talk with you about your Endless Quest books. There have been so many other excellent interviews where you have related their origin story. Let me consolidate them and recap my understanding of events here:
You were working at TSR when you asked for a leave of absence to join the circus for a month at the invitation of a circus employee you already knew. You were going to use the experience as inspiration for future articles/writing newspapers.
A week or so in, at a laundromat doing your laundry, minding your own business, you noticed one of R.A. Montgomery’s Choose Your Own Adventure books on a bookshelf where in those days you could read the laundromat books or buy them for a quarter.
In your own words, “I realized within a few pages, it was exactly what TSR needed to do to make people understand D&D”
So, leaving $0.25 and taking the book, you cut your bigtop excursion short, rushed back to TSR to share your finding and excitement with your boss to the response of . . . crickets
Your boss wasn’t interested, and after several of your follow-ups he tried to get you out of his hair by telling you to write it yourself.
“I’d never written fiction. But I was so mad—Don’t tell me I can’t do something—so I did it.” – Rose Estes
You took it as a personal challenge and used your personal time on nights and weekends outside of work with yellow legal pads to write out by hand, “Return to Brookmere”.
Providing said manuscript to uninspired boss led to it sitting on his desk, gathering dust - probably being used as a coffee coaster. And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost . . .
Until The One Book came to a new owner. Said boss went to a Penguin-Random House book conference in Puerto Rico in early January. Upon his return, your boss became suddenly inspired to find the discarded Brookmere printed manuscript within the piles on his desk, wipe off his coffee mug and Cup-A-Soup stains, then drop it in front of you, saying, “write three more, I need them by April 1st”.
You see, what had happened at that conference was Penguin-Random House had some D&D licensing at the time and asked if TSR had any non-module stuff. Your boss lost no time in telling them about your manuscript. They saw the opportunity and how the world had gone wild with CYOA books and Bantam's sales of these books. They wanted it. They needed it, but wouldn’t buy one unless they could buy 4 - and they needed all four in just 3 months!
So off you went, with your boss’ newfound staunch belief & support (not really) to create the first 4 of these wonderful books.
“I can be maddeningly persistent if I believe in something.” - Rose Estes
These 4 books, along with the other 5 you wrote in the series went on to sell 12M+ copies and still inspire and entertain people of all ages today.
Does that sound about right, Rose?
RE: There was no support from that person, then or ever. There was zero liking or respect between us. The last number I heard was 16 million when I was inducted into TSR's Millionaire's Club. The last time I talked to Hasbro, they said 21 million that was in 2010.
JQ: 21 million! Wow - and that was a while ago - it’s got to be more now! Truly an incredible hero’s journey you were on. What’s something you can share with us about these early Endless Quest books that you haven’t shared anywhere else?
RE: I'm ashamed to say that I never had a plot for any of those early books, I just picked up a pen and started to write. I had no clue how to build a story and no idea how it would end. Fortunately, the format almost told you what to do. I've never admitted that to anyone.
JQ: 🙄😲😵 Don’t worry, Rose, your secret is safe with me.
By the way, how was it working with Clyde Caldwell, Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Jim Holloway and the other artists from the Endless Quest books?
RE: It was great fun. Except when Jim Holloway asked my daughter to pose for the cover. He drew her as a busty fantasy heroine in scanty clothes though that wasn't how she posed. Apparently, I went off on him. He was startled and taken aback. I don't remember the incident at all. Hopefully, he forgave me.
Larry Elmore, Jeff Easley, Clyde Caldwell, Keith Parkinson, Harry Quinn and Holloway were all easy to work with and I loved all of their covers. The first six EQ covers have been turned into prints and are signed by the artists and myself.
JQ: After your massive Endless Quest success (and other books like Greyhawk), TSR made a HUGE mistake. They sent you to a book conference to promote these books, not realizing the celebrity you had become. Publishers lined up to get you to come work for them. That must have felt so good & vindicating after having your work & ideas minimized for so long.
RE: No one was more surprised than I. But on the flight to Dallas, my boss at the time suggested that such a thing might happen, so I was somewhat prepared but still VERY surprised. And yes, it made me realize how much the company didn't like me, personally and how adversarial our relationship had become.
JQ: That is such a shame, but I’m glad you got out of there for yourself . . . and because that’s when another one of my most favorite childhood experiences (and current possessions) came to be: Indiana Jones and the Lost Treasure of Sheba - a “Find Your Fate Adventure” by Bantam Books. How was it working there, and tell us about some of your favorite experiences working on those Find Your Fate books.
RE: I didn't actually ever work at RH [Random House is the parent company of Bantam], I wrote from home. They bought me a Phillips computer. It had to be shipped from the Netherlands. Personal computers were pretty rare and expensive at the time. Working with my editor Jenny Fanelli was fantastic. I learned so much from her and she actually DID like me.
Reminisce with Rediscovered Realms about the Indiana Jones Find Your Fate books!
JQ: Rose, it seems like your life experiences make their way into most of the books you write. For example, I’ve read that “Mountain of Mirrors” was written during the coldest winter in Lake Geneva, and “Pillars of Pentegarn” was to help you grieve the loss of your parents and both grandmothers. And we learned about “Return to Brookmere”, earlier in the interview.
Even the dwarves in “Revolt of the Dwarves” were based on the D&D gaming group that hung out where you lived!
“All these bearded men came over, playing all night, some falling asleep during the game. That's how I envisioned the dwarves would be.”
Looking back, would you say your life experiences, good & bad, provided you with what you needed to become who you were meant to be?
JQ: You had also once stated that you had a bunch of “odd and colorful friends”. It appears your place was a sort of nexus – a commune of sorts where everyone could hang out with different artists, authors and creators. Which ones were you friends with and what’s a story or two you can share about them?
RE: There have always been odd and colorful people in my life, people who don't believe in rules which often puts them crosswise of society. I guess they are more interesting to me than "normal" members of society.
JQ: That makes a lot of sense to me!
I just want to make a statement that I understand it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns at TSR for employees back then. It was a real world imperfect business with real world imperfect people, and therefore, real world B.S.
I recognize from things that you and others have made that there could be unfair biases and mean-spiritedness at times. I’m sorry you went through that, but thank you and the others for persisting in bringing to fruition the wonderful fantasy creations you all made together.
RE: It was a very exciting time in the beginning and the emphasis was less on who you were as an individual and more on what you could bring to the common goal, even though we didn't really know what that was. When success actually arrived, is when the separations began.
JQ: Rose, it sounds like you’ve had more than your fair share of difficulties in life. The car accident you mentioned earlier that left you with Aphasia wasn’t even the first time you experienced extreme medical hardship. An illness forced you to spend the entire year from the age of 10-11 convalescing in bed. Was this where you developed your love of reading?
RE: I was a fragile sickly child from birth. Rheumatic fever got me when I was nine and I spent the entire next year in bed. If I needed to go to the bathroom, I was carried.
All of this was apparently useless and earlier this year I had heart surgery to replace the aortic valve that was damaged by the fever.
JQ: Can you explain more about what was “useless”?
RE: The staying in bed for a year to prevent heart damage, plus a restriction of physical activity was useless because the damage to the heart had already occurred. In fact, the total bed rest and lack of physical activity actually prevented the heart from gaining muscle strength. Doctor's just shake their heads when I tell them that now.
The good/bad news is that while they could save my life with modern medical advances, my father died of the exact same problem, caused by the same fever when he was a body. He died when he was 48.
No, reading was my passion from a very, very young age. Since I was unable to go out and play I had few, if any friends. Books were my worlds, my friends. Books have sustained me all of my life, in good times and especially in the bad times.
JQ: Rose, you are apparently unstoppable. You’ve surpassed your acquired disability, other extreme health issues, workplace challenges and more, and keep creating and keep writing. To date, you have 39 titles under your name.
What advice can you give to other creators, authors & artists when they’re feeling lower than low - when it feels like the world is playing a cruel trick on you – or even worse – when it feels like it just doesn’t care?
RE: READ, escape your own life and merge with someone else's. Bring a dog or cat into your world. Believe in yourself and never give up.
JQ: Thank you for that inspiration. Oh, I was so shockingly surprised to see a new RPG module a few weeks ago based on your “Mountain of Mirrors” Endless Quest book - and you were part of it! Congratulations!
Check out “The Mirrored Mountain” OSR Adventure by Roderic Waibel of Izegrim Creations with illustration by Bryan “Glad” Thomas and Larry Elmore! (So cool)
JQ: What’s next? What are you working on now?
RE: I wrote two books TrollTaken and TrollQuest that I actually believe are the best books I've written.
Apparently they would be classed as Urban Fantasy, a genre I was unfamiliar with when I wrote them. The car accident ended what was to be a three book series.
Recently, I've become immersed in urban fantasy from several authors, Devon Monk first and foremost.
I now know where those books could have gone and am hoping that I can rewrite and finish them. I don't know if that's even possible. I may do it for myself if Berkeley says no.
Aside from that I'm working on a book called “Different” involving a young rainbow dragon named Ember who is an ugly, muddy brown color and is the secret shame of her family - and a young boy named Wili who is supposed to follow in his family's footsteps and become a sorcerer, but he's dyslexic and the runes never look the same twice. Also, a young bugbear who .... ok, that's all I'm going to reveal.
JQ: Ooh, so exciting! Rose, in a recent podcast interview with your 3 children, you were asked what you were most proud of. Your response touched me very deeply and I had to write it down.
You replied, “One of the things I’m most proud about is that apparently I’ve created a legion of boy readers who grew up and are still reading.”
What an amazing testament to your life work. When did you fully embrace this, knowing that imposter syndrome affects all of us and has an insidious way of sapping the joy out of the successes in our life? (btw, I know girl readers are part of that mix too, but they rarely needed as much encouragement to read as us boys did.!)
RE: I've never heard of imposter syndrome. I guess I really am an old fogey. I've just always known, though not understood that boys/men, do not read willingly. I've never understood it. I think one's mindworld is so much smaller without the expanded visions we gain from reading and learning other ways of viewing life.
JQ: On this topic, in a follow-up conversation, Rose shared with me:
RE: “You asked about the impact the award has had on my life and I think part of this new happiness is because of the award. I've had a difficult time embracing a lot of the emotion that comes from fans. I actually feel embarrassed, to be honest.
Another interviewer, I think the very first one, a man named Martin in Australia has helped me finally figure it out.
I felt that I was a fraud.
The books came about because of a mere fluke. Because someone pissed me off. I hadn't sat up nights writing till my fingers were numb. I hadn't sent off hundreds of manuscripts and been rejected 101 times. I hadn't yearned and burned to be an author. It just happened, almost without even trying hard. And it was merely one of a great many things I'd done to support myself and the kids. The fame had not felt deserved nor had it been thought of as anything important by those I worked with.
But Martin has helped me to see that even though it wasn't intentional and I hadn't ticked any of the above mentioned boxes didn't mean that the response and the award weren't deserved.
One reviewer, I forget who, gave me a 4-5 out of a possible 10. One of his criticisms was that there was too much talking and too few choices.
A reader wrote back and said, "man, you just don't get it. He pointed out that the reader wasn't just an anonymous "you". You were actually someone who had a story, a background and real worries and friends, even if they were talking animals and the choices they made mattered."
They pointed out that my books were very emotional and the reader connected on an emotional level unlike the anonymous multi, multi choice books. I felt like that person got it and then, finally, I did too. And so, while I am still not very comfortable with the praise, at least I am more accepting of it.”
The recent podcast interview done with Rose and her children by “Raised on DnD” was super-well done, interesting & fun. Make sure to check it out!
JQ: In an excellent interview you did with Grand DM, he asked you: “If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?”
And your reply: “Well done, you made a difference in children's/animal's lives."
Rose, while we’re both still here I want to tell you “Well done” and Thank You from the bottom of my heart. You did make a difference in this child’s life.
Rose Estes has signed books, posters and more fulfilled by her son, Daniel, who also does regular readings of his Mom’s Endless Quest books!
Also, if you ever find yourself near Seal Rock, Oregon, make sure to stop by The Hauser Gallery and pay Rose a visit.
(a HUGE thank you goes out to Daniel Estes for helping me make this interview happen, for his support, and for many of the pics I stole from his site!)
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(Featuring artwork from Clyde Caldwell & Luke Eidenschink!)