Heidi Ayarbe is the author of three young adult novels: Freeze Frame, Compromised, and Compulsion. I can say with authority that Compromised and Compulsion are both awesome, and Freeze Frame is on my To Read list. Compulsion just came out on Tuesday, and it’s freaking great, and at the end of this interview you can comment for a chance to win an advance reader’s copy of Compulsion.
BH: What’s your one-paragraph pitch for Compulsion?
HA: Compulsion happens over a period of five days in the life of Jake Martin. Jake’s the star of the soccer team, ready to lead his high school team to their third state championship in a row this Saturday. This Saturday means everything because this Saturday, if he plays perfect, he will be released him from the spiders – the numbers – and the other obsessions that rule his life. Saturday, the primes converge and Jake believes that if he does everything right, Saturday will be the day Jake gets to be normal. He’s tired of hiding, tired of living with OCD.
BH: What compelled you (haha) to write Compulsion?
HA: I had a few panic attacks a few years ago. I don’t know why – out of the blue – I became literally panicked over small spaces and being closed in. I figured out how to keep from panicking in elevators and on airplanes, buses and closed-in spaces – some tricks to keep me okay. Each attack lasted just a few minutes but felt like an eternity. I got to thinking about people who live with anxiety – the real deal – every day and how that feeling never goes away. I wanted to write that story because I’m aware that over 40 million people are diagnosed with some kind of anxiety disorder … But I can bet that so many of those 40 million feel pretty alone. I hope Compulsion, somehow, can reach out to those who suffer – give them a voice.
BH: I read Compromised, loved it, and reviewed it awhile back. (HA: Thank you!) How was your experience different when writing the two different books? How was it the same?
HA: Every book is so different. But, I think, there’s nothing as daunting and terrifying as a second novel. (Compromised was my second novel). Once I wrote Freeze Frame, my first novel, revised it, and gone through the grueling process from getting an agent through to copy edits, it felt so … done. And then I was given the chance to write a second novel, Compromised, and everything changed. There were expectations and deadlines – different ones – and reviews to compare to FF reviews. And THE DREADED FIRST DRAFT. I’d totally forgotten how abysmal my first drafts ARE (and continue to be). So seeing Compromised through the published-eye lens was ghastly! All I saw was drivel, having forgotten that I’d get a chance to make it work. I didn’t really enjoy the process as much because I was horrified. So Compulsion was pure joy. I knew I could do it. I made it through novel #2 (which I happen to love, but it was really tough) and Compulsion’s first draft, as expected, was a mess, but I got the structure down and a chance to make it into a novel I love. So, BIG difference in perspective. Same process.
BH: Is it hard to write from a male perspective? Do you have any tips for authors who wish to write from the perspective of the opposite sex?
HA: I think it’s the same tip for writing anything: OBSERVATION. Take the time to watch how people act in public, at restaurants. Watch out for clichés! Writing is about creating believable characters. So watch how males talk compared to females. Listen to them. Think of a male reacting to something and how would a female react to it (typically), then switch it up and give the male the “cliché” female reaction but make it a real guy thing. It’s mostly about creating wonderful, believable people and making them people we can relate to.
BH: What does your workspace look like?
HA: Cramped, overflowing with papers, books, receipts from milk I purchased years ago and other useless things … MESSY!
BH: What is your favorite book on the craft of writing?
HA: I LOVE Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. It makes me feel reassured that I’m not alone in my neurosis and insecurities and fear of failure and more. What I LOVE most is how she says, SPILL IT OUT ON THE PAGE, EVERY PAGE, EVERY NOVEL. I love that advice. See below!
BH: What is the best writing advice anyone has given you?
HA: See above … though technically she didn’t give it to me personally. But GREAT advice.
BH: Thank you for the interview, Heidi, and thanks for the great reads!
And didn’t I say something about a contest? A big thank you to Heidi for making it possible. So, the rules are simple. The giveaway is limited to the continental United States (sorry, overseas people…unless you have an address here you’d like the book shipped to!). To enter, leave a comment at the end of this post. (Email address required to comment, but your email address isn’t published or shared with anyone, ever!)
If you tweet about the contest & share this link, you can get an extra entry (limit one extra). Just comment with the link to your tweet so I can verify that everything’s on the up & up.
The winner will be picked out of a hat at random. Well, his or her name will be picked out of a hat…not the winner in person, which would be too strange.
Deadline: Next Thursday, 5/12/2011, 11:59 p.m. PST. Winner announced sometime on Friday.
For more on Heidi and her books, check out the sites below:
Heidi’s Website: www.heidiayarbe.com
HarperCollins Website: www.harperteen.com
Heidi’s blog: http://heidiayarbe.blogspot.com/
IndieBound Link to COMPULSION: http://www.indiebound.org/hybrid?filter0=compulsion+by+heidi+ayarbe&x=0&y=0
- Compulsion by Heidi Ayarbe (bethhull.com)
- Compromised by Heidi Ayarbe (bethhull.com)
- Living With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (everydayhealth.com)
- NiFtY Author Ebony Joy Wilkins (bethhull.com)
Sounds like such a great book! My students would love it 🙂
I’m finally reading Bird by Bird! Ms. Lamott is so funny. Next on my list is one of Ms. Ayarbe’s books. Great interview!
I enjoyed the interview and feel compelled to read the book!
For some reason I’m really drawn to books with one-word titles, so this will be on my To Read list, but also because I like the window of observation & learning that it gives to a disorder that comes & goes in subtle ways in my own mind. Thx for the giveaway!
Very good interview! Heidi’s books are now on my “to read” list (in fact, they’ll take precedence over a few of the books already on the list). I especially appreciated her reaching out to give a voice to those who suffer from anxiety disorders. Bravo, Heidi!
I found it really helpful to learn of her experiences with the dreaded first draft and her reminder to observe, observe, observe. (Oh, how I need those reminders!)
Many thanks for the great interview!
Great interview, short and sweet, and I lke the questions asked and her answers about the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd novels. Also liked the advice about watching how people act and react.
Now I’m going to read all three of her books, in order.
lol I’m glad to hear that some authors work spaces are just as chaotic as mine. also That sounds like a fascinating book. I’m definitly going to have to read it. as well as Bird by Bird
thanks for taking the time to give a really interesting interview. Could I add another way to understand dialogue. When I listened to conversations, I find that pretty soon I am engaged in them (only in my mind of course) and I am no longer listening. The same happens when I am reading dialogue in a book. The technique that I have found that works for me is to type dialogue out of a book. I skip words and definitely don’t worry about accuracy, but I find I can stand back and watch how the writer is constructing the dialogue. Jeri