Brookhaven author’s debut novel ‘Roars’

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, June 11, 2024

“He needs to surrender. She needs to fight. Are they ready for their next battle?”

These statements and question introduce the story of a popular mixed martial arts fighter and a mysterious woman who meet in Japan and become embroiled in … well, for that you have to read the book.

Charlsie Estess’ debut novel, “When the Ocean Roars,” hit shelves Tuesday. 

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Estess came to Lincoln County via marriage to “a Brookhaven boy,” Clint Estess. She worked in international finance, domestically and overseas — including Japan — and worked in real estate investment trust in Jackson prior to relocating to the Home Seekers Paradise. 

“I started writing a lot when we were moving to Brookhaven,” she said. “With a lot of change in jobs, and change in locations, I really started writing as a hobby. I felt led to write — but not with the goal of selling a book. It was a way of learning some things, and processing some things.”

She’s completed three books so far, and is working on a fourth. “Ocean” is not the first book she penned, but it is the first to go to the press. The books waited as Estess worked, but when she decided to stay at home to be more flexible for their two sons, she picked up the writing again.

“I started entering books in contests, and they did really well,” said Estess. 

She had “Ocean” professionally edited, took it to a conference, and pitched it to a couple of publication houses in the spring of 2023. Within a month, one company bought it. 

“It’s a really fast-paced, romance-mystery-suspense novel, written as a ‘clean read’ for the general market,” she said. 

Because she is a Christian, Estess did not include things in her novel that were objectionable to herself. The story was not written as a “Christian” story, but has some Christian themes, and is published by a Christian publishing house, IronStream Media. 

“When the Christian house bought it, I did not change the story line at all,” she said. “I did change a few small things to give it more a spiritual arc that would appeal to that market more.

The story didn’t change at all, but there were a couple of word choices that I changed. It is a contemporary Christian romance with crossover appeal to the general market.”

With a background in business, Estess didn’t think she knew what she was doing when it came to writing. So she took a class at Millsaps College, and did some webinars. She wanted to learn, and to hone what she knew.

“Several ideas converged to make the story. A story about an American fighter, a natural at Karate, now a pro fighter, overseas for a world championship, ends up meeting a woman who doesn’t exactly tell him who she is, and it goes from there,” she said. “When he finds out who she is, they try to part ways, but romance takes off.”

The “young” romance — aimed primarily at 18-to-30-year-old women — is about fighting in more ways than one.

“The fighter ends up fighting a fight while overseas that he never expected to fight. It’s about life. We think we have hard circumstances, little things can distract us really easily, but so often things land in our path that was not expected, but ends up teaching us something or bringing more value to our lives.”

Though the book has a target audience, it is for women of any age, Estess said.

“I think it will appeal to some men, too, because of the fighter aspect,” she said. “It’s not a typical romance. It’s fast-paced. It’s got Christian undertones; an alpha guy who is a believer. It’s a little bit of faith-meets-science.”

“Ocean” was a 2023 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Finalist. Best-selling Christian author Patricia Bradley also read the book recently and told Estess it was “amazing.” 

“I’m really glad she read it,” Estess said. “And I’m really excited that it’s coming out. Matt Hall is planning to have some signed copies at [Hall & Company in Brookhaven]. It’s also available on Amazon.”