NiFtY Author Heidi Ayarbe AND GIVEAWAY!

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

The No-Nap Blues

The No-Nap Blues: I’m singin’ ’em.

Yesterday, I, the Ever-Suffering Mother, sat through an hour of listening to my child whine in the next room. “I don’t want to sleep. Let me up. Let me up!” (As if I were physically holding her down on the bed. However, if she’s going to continue believing herself stuck in bed, I’m not gonna enlighten her.)

Later in the afternoon, I spoke with one of the members of my Maternal Support Team (a.k.a. “Mom”).

Ever-Suffering Mother: Why didn’t she go to sleep? I think I don’t like her at all.

Maternal Support Team: (makes indistinct noises without committing the blasphemy of speaking against her granddaughter)

ESM: (wails) I just wish I knew what I did wrong!

MST: (finally kicking into supportive mode) You didn’t do a single thing wrong. Sometimes these things just happen.

ESM: No. Something went wrong. I did something different, and I will figure out what it was so it never happens again. (shakes fist at the other room where Z happily plays with her stuffed animal friends)

MST: Really, sometimes these things just happen, and you can’t control them–

ESM: Can so. I know I turned around three times in the kitchen before her naptime. That might have influenced it. Or her sound machine…maybe the volume got adjusted up or down after we brought it back from your house. Or I sang the second verse of her second lullaby in the wrong key. I will figure it out!

MST: (laughs)

By the time my Spousal Support Team (a.k.a. “Husband”) returned home from work, I was a total wreck. Still in my sweatpants, hair tied back in a nasty black scarf (the color of mourning), wondering if I’d ever have time to work on my manuscript again. Feeling a little sick from self-medicating with half a bag of Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips. (Oh wait, that’s every evening. Tears optional. Maybe change the color of the scarf.)

Really, though, what do stay-at-homies DO when their child stops taking naps? Do they have a second child to distract the first? Do they run away from home? What I’d like to do is institute a three-hour Solitude and Quiet Time. And, yeah, maybe run away for a couple of days.

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

Set-up: Aura’s an artist, and artistic talent runs in her family. When her mom’s schizophrenic episodes start to peak and Aura is alone in caring for her, Aura begins to worry that schizophrenia runs in her family too. Believing art and mental illness to be linked, she starts to alienate herself from the one escape she has: her art.

Main character’s goals: Aura’s goals are quite different from your average teen’s: keep mom alive, contain mom, prevent mom from burning the house down. Her approach to these goals changes throughout the story.

My reaction: Ah. Big sigh of happiness. I’m really digging my sabbatical from series books, because the finished endings in my latest reads are so satisfying. The ending in A Blue So Dark was absolutely perfect. I wouldn’t have changed a word.

Of interest to writers: Literary fiction does not have to be slow or boring! The beauty of this novel is that although the prose is poetic and there are no werewolves ripping people to shreds, the tension is high throughout the book. Also, the epigrams at the beginning of each chapter were often quietly hilarious.

Bottom line: I don’t know how much attention this book has gotten (it was another random library shelf pull), but it deserves to be read. Spread the word!