In your opinion do you believe that gangs are more prevalent in poorer, disadvantaged communities?
This is a very good question but in my opinion, gangs are more prominent where ever there is money to be made. I can understand why people in general would instantly think that gang members are more active in disadvantaged areas due to the lack of resources made available to them as compared to more advantaged areas. However, at the end of the day it really comes down to the individual person’s self belief, exposure and moral sense. I am friends with people who grew up with very little, were exposed to drugs and violence on an almost daily basis and still went on to succeed in life.
Many years ago (like twenty plus years ago), it was obvious that gangs tended to exist in poorer areas, however, fast – forward to the present and you will notice that gangs are just about anywhere the money is. For example, during the 1970’s/80’s when cocaine was first introduced to the American people by then Columbian drug lord – Pablo Escobar, the drug was being sold to A-list celebrities, musicians, politicians, etc as well as on the streets. In the end, gangsters go where the money is.
People who become gangsters don’t necessarily come from a poor background because I have seen friends who come from financially stable families, who are incredibly gifted in their studies, and with the world at their feet they still turn to a life of crime. In my book, Purged by Darkness the reader will discover the motives behind some of the characters reasons for joining and their economic status at the time, which clearly shows that not all people who go on to become gangsters are poor to begin with.
Michael self published and financed his book releasing it locally in 2004. For two years he went around talking to libraries, youth groups, his old high school and book clubs about his book, gangs, drugs, believing in yourself, the writing process etc. He even appeared in several local newspapers and on the local radio. “I enjoyed my talks with these kids and meeting new people because it allowed me to do my part in giving back to the community by helping and inspiring kids. I wrote Purged by Darkness as a vehicle to do just that and if my book is able to steer even just one youth away from the path I almost ventured into then I know everything I have been through is worth it!” said Michael.
While his book did find success locally with his old high school and a number of libraries purchasing his book, he felt there was so much more his book had to offer. So he sent his work to America and was fortunate in obtaining an American literary agency in 2006. “While they loved my work, my agent felt that my work needed to be worked on. At first, I was hesitant to change anything but then I realised, I can’t be stubborn as I only have one shot at the American reader to make an impression,” he said. After much time was spent rewriting, editing and searching for a publisher, Michael would be knocked back a total of 22 times over the course of two years by American publishers. “I definitely felt disheartened, I was even at a point where I wanted to give up and work on something else. The problem was, I believed in my manuscript too much to just give up. I honestly believed that my book would make a difference in the lives of young people or anyone for that matter,” said Michael. His patience and belief paid off as Michael finally got his break when his agent announced that they had a possible publisher interested in him. After liaising with the publisher, they offered him a contract. As of November, 2008 Michael’s manuscript Purged by Darkness will be officially published by Eloquent Books. His book won’t be released until later this year.
For more information on the book and author, please visit: www.MichaelEstepa.com
Purged by Darkness revolves around six friends in Melbourne, Australia, and their journey inside the organised crime syndicate known as the Triads.
In the gang lifestyle, honor and absolute loyalty is demanded of all members, while fear, death and betrayal often follow. The group’s friendship endures as the six try to define their lives interwoven with their life of crime. In their world, no one ever wins and everyone involved finds it too difficult to ever get out. To them, the city represents violence and the countryside, peace.
In this strange existence, love and loyalty among the friends flourish because they can only depend on each other. But friendship is pushed beyond all normal limits, as danger waits at every turn.
What is it like to live in a world of death and violence? Is every moment cherished because it could be the last? Finally, what does it take to survive life in the mob?